Filled with unfinished sculptures, heavy wooden furniture, sketches, graphics and positive attitude, Academie voor Beeldende Kunsten is an essential place to visit in Mechelen.
I ducked into the Academy one rainy afternoon for a quick browse, but the visit turned into a two-hour chat with a Vrije Grafiek Docent Mik Mariën, a kind and gregarious woman who welcomed me in and inspired with her enthusiasm for traditional etching techniques. I asked her to tell me more about her atelier and the Academy. Afterwards I just subscribed and I'm a part of the Mik's atelier since 2014.
Who can follow the classes?
School has two kind of Ateliers. One is dedicated to artists below 18 years old and second is for those who are already adults.
This means that as an adult you can as well join an art school courses for personal enrichment as well as for credit toward a full certificate or degree at Academie voor Beeldende Kunsten in Mechelen.
Atelier is open 8 hours a week on Tuesday and Wednesday from 13.30 to 17.00 or during the same days in the evening from 18.30u to 21.15.
Check out all the needed information on the website of the Academy here: www.academiemechelen.be
What do I love most about the Academy?
It’s easy to stick to the computer when it comes to crafting a design. What’s often forgotten is the beauty of actually crafting something with your hands. Minimum twice a week I choose to stay off the computer for a bit. Instead, I take out those strong acid or mordant to cut into the unprotected parts of a metal surface to create a design in intaglio (incised) in it. Of course, in modern manufacturing, other chemicals may be used on other types of material. As a method of printmaking, it is, along with engraving, the most important technique for old master prints, and remains in wide use today. You might be surprised at how enjoyable making something so real can be.
Why did I sign up?
Since I graduated University of Art in Poznan I have been longing to working more analogue, getting my hands dirty with ink, feeling the paper texture. I honestly believe that expressing myself in this form makes me a better designer.
How does it help me to be a better designer?
Being a designer is hard work. It can get even harder with time, when you start to realise that being a designer is actually constantly trying to discover why you want to be a designer. Perhaps you can find some ways to cover the emotions, but it seems to me that in this business you have very little place to hide—you must love it, each day of it, or you’ll not be able to wake up in the morning and do it.
What did I discover after signing up?
Following an art school means not only improving your creative skills, but as well joining a supportive community of people who think in a similar way you do. A strong community is like good music—it can keep your spirits up.
Words and Photographs by Agata Smok
designer and art director specialising in visual identity projects.