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(Image: Iris Scott)

Artist of the Week: Iris Scott

Seattle might be notorious for niche coffee shops and scenic waterways, but locals know it's also home to an array of people who love to create. This city is chock-full of artists who we love to feature weekly on Seattle Refined! If you have a local artist in mind that you would like to see featured, let us know at And if you're wondering just what constitutes art, that's the beauty of it; it's up to you!

Seattle Refined: How long have you been creating? Do you work with different mediums?
Iris Scott: I have been creating since I was a 6-year-old kid in kindergarten. In a way, my whole life journey has been to become a professional kindergartener. I've tried out pretty much everything from pastels to pottery in my fine art education at WSU. I wasn't able to make a living as a professional artist until I turned 26 and focused on just one medium — oil fingerprinting — which I have been practicing for the past 10 years.

Can you tell us about your artistic process and how the different stages work into it?
Every painting has a slightly different story, but they all usually start from some phenomenon I've observed in real life. Whether it's the tiny little rainbows between the droplets of a shaking dog's mist or the way the light plays through some fabric that's laying around with just the perfect folds, every painting starts with one of those WOW-this-world-is-amazing moments. Then I will try to capture what I saw with photography and use those images to make a digital collage in Photoshop. I'll usually combine a dozen or two dozen photos into one perfect composition. Then I will use that as a reference for the actual painting. From start to finish, this process takes several weeks. Finger-painting involves putting on thick thick thick layers of paint, so it takes a month for these paintings to dry!

Tell us about where your inspiration for your art come from?
When I am not being completely mesmerized by the world of my immediate surroundings, I get incredibly inspired by the nature documentaries I watch. Videography and recording technology is so advanced and low-profile these days that we are able to see the most intimate and precious details of so many animals' lives! For example, my last show in New York was inspired by Bowerbirds, who spend years collecting shiny objects, building an artistic sculpture, and learning the most complicated dance routines to impress a mate. Seeing the level of their dedication and effort just filled me with incredible joy that we can live on a planet that makes their lives possible. For my most recent show, The Big Wonderful, I have several pieces that feature octopuses because I was reading about them and could not believe how complex and brilliant they are (it also helps that they are ethereally beautiful and capable of changing color at will.

Do you have a specific "beat" you like best – nature, food, profiles, etc.?
Nature is definitely my beat, but I also enjoy painting my visions for the future of humanity. These usually involve female leadership, interactions with supernatural beings, living in harmony with nature and definitely not eating animals.

Do you have one piece of art that means more to you, or is extremely special to you?
One of my recent works, titled "Exodus of Pisces," is particularly meaningful to me. It epitomizes some of my favorite themes, including sea creatures, female goddess beings and a magical-realist setting. However, the real reason it is so meaningful to me is because I made the first sketch, which that painting is based on, with colored pencils when I was 10 years old (here is a link to the backstory). I think painting that funny little drawing as a professional artist was a form of time travel that allowed me to reconnect with the young girl full of big ideas that I once was. So, it's super special.

What experiences in your life have affected your art the most?
I tell this story a lot because it is the single most important experience of my artistic career. It was the year that I moved to Taiwan without a plan or knowing anybody there. I was just hoping to gain some life experience before returning to the states and starting the "real life" of a long career. However, I ended up having time to practice art and painting full time every single day, which I had never had the opportunity to do before. It was through this diligent and focused process that I was able to make the breakthrough that changed my life completely — I ran out of clean brushes, I was losing the last light of the day and I put the last strokes of color on a floral painting with my fingers. The rest is history!

If we want to see more of your work, where should we go to find it?
I post a lot of updates, photos, and videos of my creative process on my Facebook and Instagram. I post how-to videos as well because I really want to make my art democratic and available to everyone who is interested in learning. Making art available and accessible is also one of the reasons I sell very affordable prints of my work through my website at

What is next for you? Anything you're working on right now that you're really excited about?
I've been living in New Mexico for the whole past year, and I've found the landscape here incredibly inspiring. I've noticed that my latest collection of paintings has leaned heavily toward aquatic and marine themes — I'm quite thirsty for them out here in this desert, I guess. Additionally, I've really been fascinated by various depictions of mythical beings in the area, like the Chupacabra. I have been collecting various testimonies of people's eyewitness accounts and putting together a sort of "police sketch" to paint from. It's a strange and wonderful place out here!

Lastly, how do you take your coffee? (We ask everyone!)
I like a Columbian roast with a lot of oat milk and no sugar.