For artists Shape Youth Andrew Cochrane Talking with Andrew Cochrane Lelani Lewis meets with emerging artist Andrew Cochrane. I first met Andrew at Shape's gallery at Westfield. Here is a bit about him and his practice. Statement: Cochrane roams freely between sculptural and visual media. Known for his humorous and nostalgic tendencies, Cochrane’s work uses visual metaphors that encourage the audience to see life a bit differently. Despite being deaf, Cochrane is not dis-abled as an artist. If anything, his art enables him to express his natural humour and curiosity for the world on an equal par to all others. It is actually his deafness and experience of living in a ‘visual world’ that enhances his ability to communicate visually. Andrew Cochrane What has been your involvement with Shape? I first got involved with Shape Arts back in 2012 when I had the opportunity to exhibit one of my Onomatopoeia Animal series for the Shape Open at Portobello Gallery, London. I moved to London in early 2014 to try to find opportunities to develop myself as an artist, and found Inspiring Futures - a Shape Arts project that provides group mentoring and skills sessions for young disabled artists. The project not only helped with my confidence but also helped me gain practical skills like marketing through social media. It was through Inspiring Futures that I was given an opportunity to volunteer, helping with the new Shape Open website. Then, two months later, I applied for a role as an Exhibitions Intern with Shape, a position I have been striving for for a long time, and was thankfully successful in my application. What have been your biggest challenges to establish yourself as a self-defined disabled artist? I have found communications and networking my biggest challenges as an independent artist who happens to be Deaf. I do encounter communication breakdowns at times which made me very reluctant to continue, but I have been attending Inspiring Futures, where you learn to build confidence and brush up on your Artist Statement etc. I have found it really beneficial and I see the world differently and in a more positive way. I strongly encourage young aspiring artists to take part. What advice would you offer another young disabled aspiring artist? Be ambitious, creative, innovative and impactful so your audience will remember your work whenever they leave an exhibition. Be enthusiastic and motivated by self-promotion and working through social media. It will be a lot of hard work, but it is the way forward - push yourself and show yourself out there. Two years from now what would you like to be celebrating? Two years from now I would like to be continuing to work for an arts organisation or at a gallery, as an assistant technician/curator. I want to be involved and surrounded by art every day. To find out more about Andrew's work, go to his website: www.acochrane.comImage: Self Portrait by Andrew Cochrane Welcome to the Shape Youth blog! Visit us here to find out more about the people we support and work with, following their progress and views about life in the arts and creative industries.