Alumni success: Emma Cochrane


Our ABSPD Alumni are such talented individuals & have done some amazing things before & after graduating! Emma Cochrane went from taking Module 1 of our course to winning a Barker and Stonehouse cushion designing competition in less than 4 months! 

Emma has a degree in Outdoor Studies and was a project manager before taking a course in upholstery. While learning, she realised her true passion lay in pattern designing. Being inspired by the patterns and designs for fabric much more than the upholstery itself, she took our Module 1 class and hasn’t looked back since! Read about her experience below:


The ABSPD Module 1 has given me a new lease of life and a new lust for life. As is true for many people, my plans to follow a career in art and design didn’t materialise when I was a teenager and I followed a different path. The ABSPD course has allowed me to dream again, it’s provided a safe place to give my creative journey another go. It’s been wonderful and challenging, but it feels so right.


I was having a frustrating day, but felt a million times better when I stopped, looked back and realised how far I have come. In March when I started Module 1, I had no mac, no Photoshop or Illustrator software, no scanner/printer just painting and drawing experience. But this time I shared my goals and told people what it is I’m trying to do. I used a mac at my sister’s work then acquired a second hand mac, upgraded it myself (yeaaah), used some birthday vouchers for a scanner, and taught myself how to use Photoshop from hours of online tutorials and the amazing support of the ABSPD class alumni – and now I’m designing patterns!


In July I entered a cushion pattern design competition with Barker and Stonehouse for a bit of practice. I treated it as a professional level brief and did my research. I had completely forgotten I had entered when I received an email telling me I had won!! I have received £500 in vouchers to spend in their store and featured on their blog. I was so happy I nearly cried. No job offer has ever made me feel that good.


I also completed all the Intermediate level briefs for the ABSPD Summer School. I was blown away by the professional level briefs and the effort that had gone into creating the entire summer school. The briefs pushed me well out of my comfort zone. They really stretched me and I can’t believe what I managed to create! It was inspiring and motivating to be part of the design community too.


ABSPD Module 1 gave me my confidence back in other areas too. My enthusiasm for painting has been reinvigorated and I did my first painting in 5 years. On holiday I was constantly taking photos of things that were inspiring pattern designs! And I carry my sketchbook around with me everywhere now. I was terrified of my sketchbook before the course, not now!


I am continuing my journey in surface pattern design with ABSPD and have signed up for Modules 2 and 3. I cannot wait to get stuck in! EmmaCochranelogoforABSPDlores


Headshotb&wloresEmma graduated in 2002 with a degree in Outdoor Studies and gained 12 years’ experience in project management in the voluntary sector. Her artistic talent was always there under the surface and she sold some paintings during this time. Emma recently completed an upholstery course and while doing this she found what it was she wanted to do. She was much more enthusiastic and inspired by the colours and patterns of the textiles than doing the upholstery work itself. After some research she found the ABSPD courses, signed up for Module 1 in March 2014 and hasn’t looked back!


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