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Conversations with Megan Gallagher

Today we’d like to introduce you to Megan Gallagher.

Hi Megan, so excited to have you with us today. What can you tell us about your story?
I’ve known that I wanted to be an artist/designer ever since I won a coloring contest at my local grocery store at the age of five. I grew up designing clothes for my paper dolls, painting the walls and sewing curtains for my treehouse, taking art lessons at the community center and attending First Fridays every month. I’ve always been interested in learning how to do everything, which became a challenge when trying to select a major at university. I began with drawing/painting, switched to culinary design, then to interior design, then back to drawing/painting and printmaking, and I finally ended up combining all of my credits into a generic art degree.

Soon after college, I left one graphic design job for another but I was never fully satisfied. I had also been dealing with the fading of and eventual death of my mother, who died of Alzheimer’s disease, as well as some other parts of my past and I knew I needed to take a break. I stepped away from my graphic design job and decided that the only way to know for sure whether or not I can make a living as an artist was to try. I was fortunate enough to be in a position where I could take some time to reset, learn some new skills, and create a business.

I named my art/design company Modern Lily. I named it after my mother because her last lesson to me was that life is short and I certainly wouldn’t have had the courage to try my hand at running a business without that lesson. Her name was Susan, which comes from Hebrew and means Lily. So I’m the new Susan aka Modern Lily. Plus lilies have always been my favorite flowers and modern art is my favorite genre of art so it worked out in all the ways, in my opinion!

I found a retail space on the corner of Main Street and Westport Road where I can have a studio space and a place to display and sell my wares. I opened my shop quietly in October of 2019, just a few months before the pandemic, so honestly with the shutdowns and things, it feels like I haven’t been open long at all. In the end, I’m an animal lover, a mediocre dancer who just won’t stop, a new mom, a sitcom connoisseur and an avid painter trying to be more conscious of the world around me every day and in every way (while also trying to navigate my art career).

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
Absolutely not. I would say that my number one struggle has been confidence. It has been very hard for me to believe in myself and I’ve definitely struggled with imposter syndrome. It makes it difficult to want to advertise my skillset.

Also, it was really hard to own a small business in 2020. Between all the normal things that businesses dealt with during the pandemic and being INCREDIBLY sick for the entire duration of my pregnancy, which began at the beginning of said pandemic, it was a rough year.

Other struggles have been that they don’t teach you about business or marketing at art school and it’s been difficult to learn all the things involved with that like product photography, making a workable website, what forms to fill out and stay on top of, etc. I was VERY naive to think that I’d just be designing and making art all day.

And lastly, I was robbed last month and have been dealing with the police and insurance ever since. All this is not enough to stop me from trying quite yet though!

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
I create modern, plant-inspired designs that can be hung up as wall art or printed on various products. Alongside owning my shop where I sell the wares that I make, I’m currently contracted with an art licensing company and so far, I’ve signed contracts for my designs to be printed on stacking boxes at Joann’s Fabric and I’ve designed a card for Trader Joe’s. I was also contacted recently by the set decorator for an upcoming Showtime limited series called Marble (a Dexter spinoff), asking permission to use one of my prints so I can’t wait to try and spot one of my designs on TV! I’m hoping for a lot more of this kind of thing in my future!

Is there a quality that you most attribute to your success?
Again, my answer to this would be confidence, grit and persistence.

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