Unconventional Minds

21st Century Arts for the Exceptionally Curious Student

Welcome. My name is Ari Kalinowski, and I am excited you are visiting. Let me tell you more about my practice: I teach creative writing, creative coding and game design to inquisitive students who think outside the box. I also teach important supplementary skills like self-awareness, organization and portfolio development. These skills refine my students’ creative and technical abilities, clarify their sense of purpose and improve their educational attainment. On this website, you can see the platforms I use to teach, view examples of student work, read about what expert psychologists say about the importance of mentoring and learn how to get started. I look forward to hearing from you!


Creative Writing

I teach poetry, science fiction, creative non-fiction, interactive fiction with twine and how to collaboratively write with AI with transformer.



I teach project-based metacognition (aka self awareness). I help my students learn about the internal conditions that tend to bring them success on a project, as well as the conditions that tend to cause difficulties. Then, we develop strategies for amplifying the former and diminishing the latter.


Creative Coding

I teach programming with p5.js, computer graphics with three.js and digital project management with glitch. Think of it all as painting and sculpting, but with code.


Executive Function

I teach project-based executive function (aka project management): how to divide projects into pieces, set deadlines, understand the different phases of the creation process, track back and forth between the details and big picture, etc. These skills will transfer to other domains.


Game Design

I teach 2D and 3D game design using unity. Along the way we may touch upon graphic design, 3D modeling and interaction design.


Portfolio Development

I help my students package their work into a portfolio that can be shown to future collaborators, employers and colleges. I help them learn how to clearly differentiate their practice from other practices (aka age appropriate branding and marketing).


Principal Mentor: Ari Kalinowski

I am passionately committed to helping my students prepare for creative careers in the 21st century. I hold a BA from Columbia in Poetry and Comparative Literature, an MFA from Brown w/a full scholarship in Creative Writing and Computer Science and a 100K Eyebeam-Buzzfeed Art & Technology Fellowship. For over ten years, I have been helping students learn more about these skills and the techniques that can help them succeed, in their way, according to their unique learning styles. Subjects I’m researching that I’d like to one day teach: digital mapmaking, data visualization, augmented reality, virtual reality, machine learning, marketing and branding. Feel free to reach out if you’d like to discuss these fields and their relationship to education!


What experts say about mentoring

Benefits [to students] of mentorships include: enriched perspective on a topic or area of interest, increased competence, encouragement and guidance for self-directed learning, new connections between one’s learning and the real world, discovery of resources beyond the classroom, personal growth (confidence, persistence, empowerment, self-efficacy, autonomy), career path awareness, respect for expertise, relationship-building experiences, model for enjoyment and accomplishment in the chosen area, introduction to other individuals who might provide insight and support, increased exposure to and visibility within a field of interest, preparation for taking on roles in society. (from Talent Development as a Framework for Gifted Education).

Mentors are behind the creative and academic talent development of many talented people, and are particularly crucial for moving beyond an expert level of creativity toward eminence where transformational ideas and revolutionary performance occur (Subotnik & Jarvin, 2005, from Talent Development as a Framework for Gifted Education).

What parents say about Ari

"I cannot sing Ari's praises enough! My son Moe was at first quite reluctant to put any extra effort into his school work. Ari was patient and creative in getting Moe to work on some of the more challenging aspects of his assignments. Ari got to know Moe and really took into account his interests and personality. He was able to guide Moe with his writing issues by working together intensely on essays and honing his skills in brainstorming ideas, outlining and polishing his writing. As they worked together, Moe began to see the effort pay off. He has now actually published articles in the NY Times online and CBS Sports online. Without Ari I am not certain that would have ever come to pass. Besides writing, Ari was hugely helpful in managing Moe's study skills and helping him to figure out a way to best organize his assignments and his time management. This led to Moe actually having time enough to pursue other interests. Ari was instrumental in getting Moe to start the Game Theory Club at school. I believe all of this was critical in getting Moe to get into the college of his choice." —S.K., mother of Fieldston Student.

More references available upon request.


This multi-media project was created by a student and included in his portfolio to School of the Art Institute of Chicago (where he was accepted). Press “left arrow” or “right arrow” to select a different scene and then “enter” to navigate to that scene. You’ll encounter some audio, some videos and some texts; it’s a story of a kind. Enjoy!


This a game created one of my students created during an independent study over the course of a semester. It features “procedural level design,” i.e. game levels that always change their shape and form and are never the same. Feel free to play it!

Is This Your Child?

Is your child smart, curious, quirky, artistic or technical? These are the kinds of kids that tend to succeed with the mentorship and skills I deliver. This student is usually between 15 and 22 and is already adapted to working in the online environment (all my mentoring takes place online).

He or she is able to function in a structured educational setting and has a peer/friend group (i.e. is not socially isolated), but is seeking the encouragement and challenge it takes in order to soar in his or her field of interest.

How To Get Started:

Parent Consultation: use the form to the right to set up an initial free 45m consultation. We will discuss numerous aspects of your child’s development, goals we may want consider for the mentorship and in some cases, a prospective timeline for portfolio development.

Name *

Institutional Resources:

The Coding Train : a wonderful resource for creative coding video-tutorials.

The School for Poetic Computation : a unique school in NYC for creative coding and future oriented crafts.

Helpful Books:

Talent Development As a Framework For Gifted Education : great overview of how to nurture strengths in and out of school

Driven to Distraction / Delivered from Distraction: ADHD classic