Amsterdamse Kunst Academie



In the Netherlands, we have a large variety of schools and universities where people can learn. There are, however, some schools that operate on the boundaries of the traditional system and address education in an entirely different way. The MIX Academy is one of those schools.

About MIX academy

MIX academy is a creative institute where the approach is bottom-up rather than top-down: individuals get the opportunity to find their identity through creativity and are not forced into a standard curriculum. By creating, one must make choices (in contrast with a conversation, where it is easy to evade choices. When students express themselves using various creative techniques (photography, painting, street-art, illustrations, etc.), and explain their choices, they identify themselves and find their true self and their favorite form of expression. During the 3-year program, the students have to become entrepreneurial which is described in the term “earning while learning”.  In the coming years, they will intend to ground the curriculum based on identity theory and personal development even more.


MIX academy truly focuses on the individual and

1.      Supports the process of finding one’s true self

2.      Making money with creativity.

There is a reason for putting the inner self on the first place; some kids and young adults who enter MIX have no idea what they want in their lives, and do not want to be told what they should know and do. One of the major contributions of the program is that the students get motivated, self-aware, and confident.

Interesting results/figures

  • MIX has two meanings: Mentality, Identity, and eXpectation && Modern, Interdependent, eXpression
  • 15 students fulltime, €4000 per annum student fee, ends with a diploma
  • Student’s between 16 and 25, somehow they do not fit in the standard education system. Their own initiative led them to the MIX academy.
  • Fulltime: 4 days a week, open studio, peer-tutoring // Part-time: Friday and Saturday
  • Workshops by professionals from the industry  > professionals are very motivated. Each professional provides 5-week long courses with a workshop.
  • Earning by learning part of the vision.


MIX is a small, networked organization with fifteen teachers, and a network of industry professionals who organize specific workshops and courses. We have a studio in the center of Amsterdam with the necessary tools to be creative, such as a high-quality camera, mac computers ,paint, etc. The organization is largely dependent on the self-organization of students and teachers, the central authority is Ralph de Lange, the initiator and owner of the academy.

Pedagogical approach and vision

The approach at MIX is different from the regular approach in traditional education. It is bottom-up, and creative expression is both a means and an end: creative expression is first of all an instrument to discover identity, and secondly the objective is becoming a professional in the creativity business.

The three-year program

  • The first year is diverging and explorative: students get to express themselves in various kinds, and get to know various disciplines, including painting, sculpture, illustrative art, web-design, photography and media, etc.
  • The second year is more aimed at improving skills within the discipline the student likes most (finding one’s preferred discipline is a natural process and the result of the first year). About 40% of the time is focused on this one discipline, and 60% of the time on other disciplines.
  • The third year is aimed at valorizing the work, entrepreneurship, and a internship. Usually the students arrange their own internship at an artist or company they like. In this final year, students choose to become either an autonomous artist (not applied art) or specialize in applied art (i.e. web-design, marketing the arts,illustration, pattern design, digital design etc.). The students develop a website and a portfolio.

Earning while learning

A renewed strategy of MIX Academy puts the focus on earning money during the program, even if it is little, with the creative expressions. The students themselves and the teachers find projects and assignments that can earn money, for example the interior decoration of Youth Care Amsterdam. The students learn to pitch their ideas for potential employers and to express the societal or monetary value of their ideas.


The students depend on each other, especially in projects. They learn to collaborate in the discussions about who wants or is able to do which part of the project.

Workshops & Support

Professionals from the creative industry and autonomous artists are organizing a course within their own discipline. Each invited artist will organize 5 workshops, every week one day. They introduce the students to the discipline, explain about the industry, and teach their skills of techniques. In the course of a few weeks, the students will apply that in their own way and create their own projects, which they will aggregate in the portfolio/website.


Second or third-year students are mentors for first-year students. Mentors and students are matched based on similar interests, i.e. a first year student who likes hip-hop and is interested in street-art will be matched with a senior student with similar interests.


MIX Academy has a professional looking blog where teachers and students post their works. It is updated regularly with news about projects, open days, etc. Part of the curriculum is creating a website where the student exhibit his/her portfolio and works in order to attract possible buyers/employers. This is an important part: the work is made public and you have to think about how to identify/brand yourself.


Students arrive without any knowledge about who they are, and what they want. In time, their attitudes change from unknowing and unsure to self-assured and confident. With the focus on “earning while learning” and entrepreneurship, the likelihood of getting a job will greatly increase.

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