Close up interview with art teacher Wanda Grein from Art Studio Kiama, Wollongong

Tell us a little about your art class at Art Studio Kiama and your role?

I am the director of Anise Art Consultancy and within the business realm, I also run an Art Studio@ KIAMA here in beautiful Kiama where I teach weekly Art lessons.

As a consultancy business, I am various roles under the one name: such as art teacher & facilitator, art consultant for private and educational establishments, art therapist and counsellor. I also conduct ‘Art of Tarot’ courses.

My role in the business is everything- from creating the art classes, teacher, cleaning lady, purchasing officer, advertising clerk, business negotiator, novice accountant, tea lady, OH&S supervisor and at times counsellor.

I named my business ‘ Anise Art Consultancy’ after a young student who I was working with at one of my schools. His name was Anise. He loved art, loved music, singing and drama. He was a free spirit, an angel in disguise. He felt it was his role in life to help students who had nobody to play with, to protect the little ones and fight the bullies! He did not tolerate bullying at all. He took a stand for justice, and so at times he was a ‘ninja turtle’. That’s why sometimes he got into trouble, and so that’s how he ended up being one of my students in a ‘social skills program’.

I discovered he had a beautiful singing voice, and so I tried to get him into the Australian Children’s Choir who were recruiting at the time, but that was just before he became unwell. He was diagnosed with Felconnes Anemia, and after spending several months in hospital, and unexpected liver complications, he just did not make it and passed away shortly after his eleventh birthday.  Every time I visited him in hospital he would ask me if I could sneak in a drink of lime-flavoured cordial. Unfortunately he was never allowed to drink it. He asked about his little mates at school.

Naming the business after him was my way of ensuring that the adults and children who attended the art class were FREE to explore art, learn painting and drawing skills and have fun while doing it.  And of course afternoon tea for the young students consists of cordial and cookies, and ice cream every fortnight.

What are the five words that people who know you would use to describe you and your business?

My clients have expressed this about my art classes: Fun: my child loves the art classes-very excited; it’s a world between worlds; unconventional and no judgement; it’s more than an art class;

Art studio

What was the purpose on starting Art Class and how has the concept come about?

I have always wanted to teach Art in my own art studio and also to the local communities (all ages) aside from the educational institutions I have worked in for several years. I did a small business course at TAFE with my husband. I asked many business owners a lot of questions. I got informed! I visited other art studios to see what the set up was like. I spoke to art retailers to discuss suppliers and so forth.

I left my full time work in Sydney to try being self-employed. I gave myself one year to get my idea off the ground. When the opportunity came about to do this, I started in a local council hall at Werri Beach in Gerringong. I was there for 2 years.  When we had to move house, I opened the Art Studio in the 5-car garage in Kiama! Spectacular!

My Gerringong art students followed me to Kiama and I have students who attend from as far north as Wollongong and Sydney, and as far south as Nowra. We had our first Art Studio Exhibition in September last year. This was to advertise the Studio as well as provide my clients with an art audience! It was held in the Kiama Arts Centre. We had some great reviews! Setting up an exhibition is a lot of work and organisation, but it was worth it when some students sold their artworks!

My usual methods of advertising are a monthly local advertising booklet that gets delivered free to all households in Kiama and the surrounds. I leave little advertisements on popular notice boards, and most of my clients come from ‘word of mouth.’

I believe I still have much to learn about running a business. I am open for any ideas or thoughts from the Artshine Community.

The Art classes can range from 10 to 20 students at a time, so I have the assistance of a lovely lady (who is also an art student) who comes to help me out on the busy day, which is Wednesdays. In return for kindness, I provide free art lessons for her and her children. She is just wonderful with the children, and I feel this experience helping in the Art studio is a stepping-stone for her in the workforce for the future! I am sure of it!

Wanda & her grand daughter at the Oak park

What are the most common issues that relate to creatively mind attending your art classes?

It feels that in schools there is not enough time given for children to explore visual ARTS. There are several reasons for this. I understand from a teacher’s point of view that time and expertise can be a problem.

For the younger students I would have to say that while they love painting and drawing, the other art forms such as sculpture, ceramics, and printmaking for example are neglected.

In schools, there is a sense that the students ‘have to hurry’ to finish their art projects. I spend the first 3 months teaching my young artisans to slow down, take their time, and learn to really enjoy the artistic process.

I believe that everyone is born creative!

That does not necessarily mean ‘artistic’ there is a distinction here.

You can be creative in many ways such as how you solve problems; how you can play with numbers, gardening, decorating a house and so on. Creativity is much much broader and not confined to the painting on a canvas.

It is my job as art teacher to connect the artistic ability with the creative mind! And then find the Art form that best suits the artisan.

MY students develop the skills as they go! Once they have learned some general skills on the  ‘how to’ of painting, drawing, and sculpting, I then encourage their own creativity to shine through their art, which leads to them finding their own styles and becoming confident in their own art choices and art decisions they make.

Since opening the Studio in 2009, 4 of my adult art students are now selling their art works, and 3 of them are doing artistic commissions! That is so fabulous!

Art class

Tell us more about your services that you provide to your client & the creative community?  

As part of my business role and role as artist consultant, I involve myself with various charity and volunteer groups. I find this a wonderful way to meet future clients. I also work with other artisans in community Art retreats, as that is another way of generating my business and

broadening my clientele. Over the years, I have gained clients from these retreats.

When new clients make enquiries about the art studio, I invite them to come along to visit the art studio and see if they like it. They are also welcome to participate in one lesson before they commit themselves to a term of Art classes. I also consider how often a student would like to attend. Most of my students come weekly, but some of my students come fortnightly (due to parental finances or other issues). I am open about payments as well. So parents can pay upfront, or weekly. I know how hard it is for some parents especially single parent families where money is tight.

I encourage parents with children who are diagnosed with Autism, Aspergers and ADHD to consider bringing their child to art class, as sometimes the Arts is a great way for them to learn about solving problems, decision making and confidence building.

Clients need to feel comfortable and at ease in the art studio surroundings.

As a consultant I follow up the consultation with an email, and a possible invoice of expenses before any work or purchasing of materials begins.

Tell us about your process for working with clients?

I have an open policy with working with clients as they can be different, and establishments function in different way especially if there are cultural or religious etiquettes . I must consider the following:

My dress code, appearance.

Speaking clearly and in simple English

Take notes and your diary

Be honest and up front

Return all business calls and emails.

Don’t promise a client what you can’t deliver

Bring your camera and take photos if you are allowed. It helps the memory. Iphones are great for this reason alone!

Integrity is a very positive business principle- be it!

What advice can you offer to emerging designers & crafters who are just starting out?

The best advise I would give any emerging artisan, would be to get as much experience as you can with your craft and gain experience working in a variety of firms (small and large) and with the leaders in your field. Learn from them- they have many things to teach you! Both good and bad! That way you gain a wider perspective of your craft and how other organisations work, that will help you in the future when you establish your own business. You would have also learned how to relate to clients and leaders better, and you would have picked up a few handy tricks and skills along the way to do with every aspect of your craft. Being open and willing to learn is the key!

And remember, there are no coincidences in life, every experience we have –good or bad– is part of a bigger picture that will shape where you are meant be, and what you are meant to be doing in life so you can work and express your talents with passion! All you need to do is learn to listen to the inner voice that guides you, and trust your inner guidance.

 Do you have a book that you would like to recommend?

I do not know of a book I could recommend regarding business. I do have a book that may inspire others though as this book is about a mother’s approach to her very gifted daughter. This is a book called, her art, her poetry’ written by Akiane and Foreli Kramarik.

by akiane and Foreli Kramarik.

‘her art, her poetry’

It is a compilation of a little girl’s story, her art and poetry. She is truly amazing! Akiane dedicates her book to God in gratitude for her gift of painting. Her artworks are truly spectacular for one so young. The book also demonstrates how Akiane was not necessarily your regular child, and how her mother nurtured her education according to her needs. Her artwork moves and inspires anyone from many denominations and cultures. She is a true Earth Angel! I would love to meet her one-day. You can see videos of her on You tube. A very worthwhile exercise!

Where do we find your services?

As I am still a work in progress, I can be contacted on the following:

Wanda Grein

Art Studio @ KIAMA

H 02 4233 2297

M 0422 029 084


The Art Studio is open from Tuesday through to Thursday.

Please call to make an appointment. I would love to see you.

Vinh Van Lam
the authorVinh Van Lam
Vinh Van Lam, co-founder of ArtSHINE, is a visionary art coach and entrepreneur with a passion for fostering creativity. With a diverse background in art and business, he brings a unique perspective to empower emerging artists, enabling them to thrive in the dynamic art industry through the innovative platform of ArtSHINE.

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