June 25, 2023

Al PhillipsON THE SURFACE, many think art and the trades are two very distinct fields with little in common. The trades are considered technical and physically demanding, while traditional art focuses more on the imagination and how to express it in different forms.

Most of us who work in the industry know differently. While it is true there is a large technical component to our work, we all have been around a craftsperson who adds creativity to everyday tasks.

There are often several solutions to a problem that will meet the codes and requirements so familiar to knowledgeable skilled tradespeople. These codes, bylaws and other rules change over time and from place to place. Having an open mind and being able to adjust to the new rules and best practices is what we do.

When a tradesperson approaches a job, they often need to rely on problem-solving skills and creativity to produce something that is effective and efficient as well as visually appealing. From carpenters to electricians to plumbers, our members need to be able to think outside the box to come up with unique and attractive solutions that are also functional. This requires attention to detail, experience and knowledge — the very same skills relied upon by artists.

We are fortunate as a profession to be able to continue to see the results of our work, years after completion. Many of the buildings, structures and
facilities we have worked on throughout our careers are on public display, our very own gallery of sorts. When we drive past, we reflect and reminisce on our contribution as well as the collective blend of technical skill and creative energy that went into the project.

It is no surprise that many of our members have talents and skills that extend beyond their professional lives. We have musicians, painters, carvers and more among us who apply the same skills from the jobsite to other art forms.

I would like the readers to enjoy the work of our members and reflect on the fact that on the landscape, the skyline and even under the earth and sidewalks, lies the effort, work and artistry of the members of the British Columbia Building Trades.

By Al Phillips