An Artist Turns to Online Sales

Photo by Francie Towne
Megan Myers stands beside her mural outside The Humble Beet on Newport Avenue in Bend.

Megan Myers, one of Bend’s most iconic artists, discusses how Covid-19 has impacted her business and her hopes for the future. 

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Full-time visual artist Megan Myers is one of Bend’s most recognizable talents. Her hopeful, nature-inspired artwork has been commissioned by Visit Bend, Summit Medical Group and the foster care nonprofit Amara, as well as numerous businesses in the Bend area. 

Myers also has a line of greeting cards, fine art prints, calendars and other paper goods available for wholesale purchase. 

Myers discusses the “devastating” impact Covid-19 has had on her business as well how new opportunities have emerged from increased online sales.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity

How has Covid-19 affected the way you do business? 

The first days of the crisis were the most alarming as my email inbox began fielding project cancellations. But I’ve been encouraged by a few projects that have recently resumed. 

The initial shock of the Covid crisis brought termination or indefinite postponement to many projects. Art shows and events were canceled, leaving me with no venues to exhibit and sell work. 

Similarly, retailers closed or changed their models to the extent that I haven’t received any wholesale orders since mid-March.

“Wolf Hug” by Megan Myers

The fastest growing part of my business over the past few years has been my freelance illustration work. Before Covid I had a lot of confidence about freelance work coming in at comfortable intervals and felt very optimistic about the growth I predicted in this sector of my work this year. 

Emotionally, the cessation in freelance work has been the hardest to reconcile because of expectations I had for 2020.

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How have you adjusted to the new changes?

I’m fortunate because I have some diversity within my business model. A significant part of my income results from the sales of products such as fine art prints, calendars, stickers, greeting cards and postcard books. 

I have retained some income stream through my Etsy shop, which has always been supplementary, but now has become my primary revenue stream. The shop has seen a jump in sales as more people are shopping online.

Many thoughtful humans are choosing to spend money with small businesses to help keep us afloat during this crisis.

My greeting cards and postcard book sales have really flourished on Etsy because those are products that allow people to stay in touch with loved ones during isolation.

“Smith Rock II” by Megan Myers

Have you noticed any changes in the type of work clients have been asking for?

Under normal circumstances, my artwork principally deals with themes of connection, hope, joy and peace. It’s executed in a really approachable, illustrative style.

Clients who have been in touch during this time seem intent on the continuation of this same type of work in the interest of providing comfort to their communities and customers.

But I have had a variety of requests by my direct customers for more diversity in artwork products that I offer. They seek items that might be a good fit for this time at home like puzzles, fabric patterns for masks and coloring books.

But because I subsidize these products myself, it’s difficult to produce and release a new line of products with the reduced cash flow this crisis has caused.

Are you seeing any new opportunities related to the pandemic? 

There has been a little bit of improvement as we’ve all started to adjust to this new world, though freelance suddenly feels like the most unreliable sector of my overall business.

Clients, friends and small businesses that I’ve worked with have been in touch with me about special projects during this time that are for the community and are often unable to be funded.  I’m participating in these projects as much as I can. 

“Smith Rock” by Megan Myers

I’ve created Thank You cards for clients who provide food to essential workers, logo design for a community powered joy project, and I’ve been participating in a project started by Josh Cleland to create custom digital cards for kids who are celebrating birthdays in lockdown this year. 

Art is where people turn for comfort during distressing times, and I feel honored to be able to provide any bit of support I can to people as we all strive to get through this together.

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