Interview with Artist Iris Fritschi-Cussens
Art teacher and coach, Iris Fritschi-Cussens introduces her art coaching and offers advice on teaching online art classes.
Iris Fritschi-Cussens Bio
My name is Iris, I am a London-based mixed media artist. I live in the heart of Bloomsbury with my beautiful family (husband, 2 kids & 1 cat).
I’m a mixed media artist, art journaler and creative coach. My passion is art for self-expression and self-discovery. There is a real sweet spot where art and self-development overlap. I love inspiring people to look further and go deeper through their own art.
Please tell us about your art business?
I’m a mixed media artist and an art journaler. I create art for self-expression and self-discovery. I teach all these things online, both from a technical point of view, but also with a strong focus on self-development. On my website, I offer my own courses and I also participate as a teacher on online collaborative courses (such as Life Book and Art Journal Summer School).
How do you describe your art?
My art style is raw intuitive expressionism. The simplest answer I can give when people ask me what type of things I paint is “I paint my feelings”. My work features a lot of colours, textures and movement. It’s sometimes graphic or uncomfortable, with blocked out eyes, scratches, bleeding eyes, or creepy hands. The darkness in my art is not intentional, but I also don’t avoid it. Painting for me is about connecting with what is going on in my subconscious and what comes out is usually quite surprising.
How did you get started online?
I’ve been online with some form of a website or blog since 2000, long before I got into art. So when I started painting and art journaling a few years ago, it was very natural to me to put it online straightaway. I first came to art online as a student, taking courses and developing my skill set. It wasn’t until I started developing my own style that I began
At the start, I really struggled with confidence in my courses. It takes time to build up a loyal following, and when starting out it can be so tempting to compare yourself to people who have been doing it for many years. It can be disheartening to pour all your effort into a course and then only to sell a few spots.
One of the most helpful things I did was to join a few collaborative courses as a teacher. It gave me really good exposure and my first actual income from teaching art.
Please tell us about your art coaching?
There is a coaching aspect to most of the teaching work that I do. I am not so much interested in art techniques or artistic skills in and of themselves, as I am in using them as a vehicle to help us develop as people and understand ourselves (and as a consequence others) better.
I offer art and self-development coaching to complement my art teaching for those students who really want to dig deeper and would benefit from one-on-one work.
What results can artists expect from your
What I love about coaching is that each person’s reasons and goals are different from the next. Most of my clients are people who feel stuck either artistically or in their art business. I have a knack for being able to identify the heart of the problem that someone is struggling with and then work with them to develop solutions and practical steps that
they can actually do.
I always think that advice is cheap, anyone can look at someone else and know how they could do it better in an ideal world. It’s much harder, and more valuable, to help people in a way that is sustainable and motivating for them. That’s not just about finding practical solutions to implement but also helping people gain a better understanding about why they get stuck in the first place.
What business opportunity would you recommend
For me, the most lucrative area so far has been teaching art. People love to learn and especially if you have a recognizable style and something that sets you apart, people will really enjoy learning from you. Having said that though, making a commercial success from teaching art online is about 80% marketing and only 20% teaching. So you have to ensure that the business side is something you enjoy, otherwise, you will make a miserable job for yourself.
Personally I do art teaching part-time (approx. 1 working day a week), and I have another job that provides my main income. I know other people who make a full-time income from art teaching, so it’s possible, but like running any business it’s a lot of hard work. You have to balance between making art and courses, marketing and also planning for the future and keeping things new and interesting.
What advice do you have for artists who want to
create a business around their passions?
Pick something you truly love and be cognizant of all the aspects of the business you intend to operate, i.e. be aware that it’s unlikely you’ll spend 80% of your work time painting – it might be a goal to work towards, but it definitely doesn’t start out that way.
I also really want to help destigmatize the ‘part-time artist’. There is no shame in not earning 100% of your income from your art. I would personally experience way too much pressure if I had to earn all my income with my art and teaching, and it would probably affect the quality of what I do too. The way I do things means there is a balance, and things can grow organically.
My best piece of advice is: don’t be afraid to ask for opportunities. Almost every course I’ve been involved in and got paid for I have asked to be part of. It’s scary to ask for things because you might get told no, but in the end, you remember when people said yes.
Iris Fritschi-Cussens’ most popular art class has three watercolor projects. You’ll learn her signature style for creating abstract watercolour flowers, you’ll learn to sketch a simple portrait and explore a layering technique for shading a face with watercolours and in the mixed media project you will use modelling paste for a raised effect.