Honouring an Award of Distinction Recipient, Robert Anderson

Photo: 2022 Applied Art + Design, Award of Distinction, Robert Anderson

In recognition of his extraordinary and sustained accomplishments as a master luthier, Robert Anderson was named the 2022 Award of Distinction recipient for BC Achievement’s Applied Art + Design Award program. Robert Anderson is a Victoria, BC based master luthier committed to hand-building stringed instruments that are objects of beauty and acoustic design. We caught up with him recently to find out what receiving this award has meant to him. 

“It is important to draw attention to the work of craftspeople in applied arts and design by honouring them with these kinds of awards for excellence in their field. It is a public endorsement and reminder of the value of hand crafting which celebrates individual achievement over mass manufacturing which dehumanizes it. I am tremendously honoured to have received the Award of Distinction.” 

With much humility, Applied Art + Design awardees often point to how receiving this award is more than just a recognition of their own skills, experience and the work they are doing in field; it’s about the impact of the recognition on others. Robert follows the traditions of the old masters, using carefully selected and aged woods, hide glue and dovetail neck joints. Over 25 years of instrument making has deepened his understanding of materials, acoustic design and hand-building methods, resulting in subtle, incremental changes which improve tone, volume and ergonomics. 

Photo: 2022 Applied Art + Design, Award of Distinction, Robert Anderson

In an age when cheap, factory-made instruments are overwhelming the market, Robert also instructs and mentors aspiring instrument builders in the tradition of luthiery, keeping alive the spirit of inquiry and skill development fundamental to the craft. “I am inspired daily by the materials and designs I work with and by the unflagging enthusiasm of my students.” 

Robert feels fortunate to work in a field where he can create the tools that enable musicians to fully give expression to their art. “I hope to continue designing and making instruments and passing the knowledge on to my students for a good many years to come.” He is also fortunate to share his talent playing the guitar when he performs with his band, Backyard Boulevard. 

In its 19th year, BC Achievement’s Applied Art + Design award program shines a light on functional art and celebrates the vigour of BC’s creative economy. The awardees of the Applied Art + Design program enhance day-to-day life while enriching our collective experiences. 

To date, over 83 applied artists and designers from across this province have been recognized by the program including 19 receiving the lifetime Award of Distinction honour. You can find a film produced by BC Achievement on Robert Anderson on our YouTube channel. Films on awardees are available as part of an online archive library – please watch and share.  

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