Maker Profile – making it 2015-17: Andrew Cooke

Maker Profile – making it 2015-17: Andrew Cooke

As Craft NI's making it Programmme comes to a close, and ahead of the Maiden Voyage exhibition celebrating the programme, we talk to some of the makers who've been involved. Next up, Andrew Cooke guides us through his process, background, and more.

HI Andrew! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? How did you get into making?

Hi, my name is Andrew Cooke, and making is something I have always done. I really believe everything we do as kids moulds you into the adult you become. From building and customizing old bikes as a kid and sitting for hours playing with plasticine it has always been in the back of my mind. It’s what I do best. I got my chance to start on my creative business after being forced to quit my trade as a car body man due to illness. I then went back to art/making.

Can you tell us a bit about your making process and how the making it programhas helped?

Whenever I started my foundation year I was diagnosed as dyslexic and everything clicked into place, I now know why I work the way I way I do. I need to work out my own way of doing, I love problem solving and discovering new techniques. Having a past working life means I can use skills and tools from my trade to play and experiment.

I find it hard to fit into the system of the so called “best practice” but the main thing the making it program has given me is deadlines and goals. It’s really helped guide me as a maker. I have used the advice and guidance and shaped my practice to suit my own vision.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I love classic cars and motorbikes, from an early age I had off-road bikes and messed around with old cars. I am a gearhead and love all things vintage. I have built and restored loads of cars and vans over the years. At the moment I have a 1950 Chevy which I have customized and an 80s Winnebago so my hands are full keeping them roadworthy.

Hopefully this summer we will get away in the camper more, it’s the only time my wife gets to see me with clean hands!

Where can people currently see or buy your work?

I have a home gallery and push my work on social media, I do have work in 1808 Gallery in Bushmills. At the moment I am pushing my work internationally through my website and online platforms.

What are you looking forward to the most about the exhibition?

I am looking forward to working with the University of Ulster, as this is where I completed my degree in 2012 and I'm looking forward to networking opportunities with the University. It’s also great to work with my fellow makers on the programme.

Where would you like to see your business in a year's time? Do you have any big plans for 2017?

I am really excited for the future, I received funding from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland for a kiln so this lets me have a self-sufficient practice. I will be traveling to Germany in May for a major Kustom Kulture lifestyle show where I am an invited Artist. I am working with Justin Johnson who is one of the world’s stars in roots music and has been playing my slide guitars in Nashville. I would like to get more links with the States and hopefully get an outlet for my work there. It’s a great feeling knowing my work is selling around the world, if I had been told 10 years ago I would be doing this I would never have believed it! So never give up, life can take you in different directions.

Find out more about 'Maiden Voyage', the 'making it' group's upcoming exhibition, which launches on 23 March in the University of Ulster, Belfast, here.

'making it' is supported by Invest NI, as well as the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.