Updating: Martha Voutas Donegan began her career at Vogue after her writing (Illustrated Humor and Non-fiction) won her a Mademoiselle Guest Editorship (1973). She studied with graphic guru Milton Glaser at SVA, illustrated two beauty books—one for Shirley Lord, the other for Robert Renn. She wrote and illustrated for magazines, while art directing posh Henri Bendel on W. 57th, then launched an ad agency (mvdonegan.com). Early on, she explored a 5-minute cable TV segment concept with hair maestro Kenneth and eventually created the brands for, among others, Perry Ellis (everything Perry for first 6.5 years), Tahari, Donghia Furniture, Bill Robinson, Dukakis/ Bentsen, and La Louisiana. She redesigned Woman’s Day for Peter Diamandis and Ellen Levine, Rags for one of the Ms. founders, Mary Peacock and created promotions for Bergdorf Goodman, 7Days and HB Playwrights. While penning quotes for fashion press kits and articles for Working Woman, Self, and The Village Voice or ghostwriting blogs, (hilltophousebb.com) and websites (stevefabrikant.com), she chaired the Massachusetts College of Art Foundation Board (her alma mater).
Martha also worked as Creative Director (2-D) for Deskey Associates NYC, branders and packagers for Fortune 500 clients. Married to Emmy winning set decorator (As the World Turns), Dennis Donegan, Martha wrote her first play, “Mr. Muybridge,” read at St. Clement’s in NYC. She studied playwriting (w/Brian Silberman) and sitcom at Gotham Writers’ Workshop. Pat Flicker Addiss produced a rewrite of Mr. M then read at the National Arts Club, directed by Michelle Tattenbaum. Her second play “4th Down,” about domestic abuse in a football family, (hot topic) is under consideration. Martha co-authored “TapCracker” Nutcracker on tap and a memoir “Born Gifted,” set in 1950s El Barrio, w/ spiritualist Miriam Cora. She continues to work with NY, CT and LA clients, among them Alan Alda, Chris Goutman, “Ravenswood,” and Sean Gilson, and contributed to Rizolli’s 2013 coffee table book on long-time client Perry Ellis. Martha was culled into the PBS documentary “Search for Spirituality,” from her sangas with Thich Nhat Hanh at the “Healing the Wounds of War” workshop at Omega.
In 2012, Martha and her family moved to New Orleans to pursue careers—their daughter is a NOCCA (New Orleans Center for Performing Art), dance major; husband Dennis is the set decorator for Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta working on four TV shows, the most recent being, “If Loving You is Wrong” —and to be close to Dennis’ aging family.
Martha recently finished, an historical fiction/non fiction book, “Bequeathal—the Story of a New Bedford Spinster House,” set in MA from 1862 to 1982. It portrays the lives of Great Aunt Ethel and her companion of 30+ years, Minna Littman, an award-winning reporter for New Bedford Standard/Standard-Times. “Bequeathal” tells of what Ethel undertakes to inherit the house from former mill girl Sophie Briggs, how Minna purchases the home back from Martha’s mother Eleanor, after Eleanor’s bequeathal from Aunt Ethel permits her to go to college after bearing eight children, which lifts her family from poverty. Based on fact with fiction filling in the missing pieces and history doing the rest, it is illustrated with the spinsters’ own journal entries and letters, with picture postcards and photographs from Ethel’s extensive albums.