To be yourself is all that you can do

Mirza Cizmic, a student in Painting at the Academy of Fine Arts, encourages future artists to express their artistic personality.

Mirza Cizmic began his studies at the Academy of Fine Arts in 2013, the same year that University of the Arts Helsinki was established. Born in Bosnia, Cizmic’s journey has led him from his home country to Sweden and ultimately, to Finland. Before coming to Helsinki, Mirza studied in Munka Konstskola in Sweden. It was there that he first encountered the name Academy of Fine Arts, in a Swedish art magazine.

- I read that Finland has the best education system in the world and that the Academy of Fine Arts was the best art school in Scandinavia.

His girlfriend, who lived in Finland during that time, assured of the academy’s good reputation. Suddenly the possibility to study in Finland felt like the perfect choice and Mirza decided to apply to Kuva (the Finnish epithet for the academy).

From the very beginning of his studies, Mirza was positively surprised by the way art was taught at the academy. The Academy of Fine Arts was nothing he had experienced before. The teachers and staff are very supportive and there is no hierarchy. One of the best elements, he finds, are visits to working artists’ studios.

- Artists from different backgrounds tell about their work and process in their own words. And they give useful advice.

Another eye-opener was the way the first semester is structured. Mylly, which is Finnish for mill, is a try-out period of sorts, during which art students explore different forms of visual arts. After the Mylly semester, students choose the programme they want to focus on for the rest of their studies. For Mirza, painting has always been close to his heart. Although Mylly proved to be a chance to broaden his horizons (“the sculpture department is amazing”), it further strengthened Mirza's identity as a painter. 

- You have to follow your intuition.

When thinking about his future, Mirza feels confident. His current studies form a good base for future aspirations, which include opening a gallery that could showcase younger artists.

When asked about advice for future art students, Mirza has many.

- Work hard, be appreciative of the opportunities you are given and be open to new possibilities.

Moreover, on going through the admissions process, his advice is simple.

- Be honest in what you do, just be yourself. Express your artistic personality.