The Creative Journey: Insights from program alumnus John Fluevog 

Photo: John Fluevog, BC Achievement program alumnus

Recently, we had the privilege of interviewing John Fluevog, renowned shoe designer and Award of Distinction recipient of the 2008 Creative Art Award, now known as the Sam Carter Award in Applied Art + Design. This conversation was a highlight as we gear up the call for nominations for the award program and launch its new name in honour of the late Sam Carter

John revealed some insights by sharing his story as a successful artist while providing advice for aspiring creatives.  

The impact of the award 

John reflected on receiving the Applied Art + Design in 2008 sharing that, “I felt honoured that we collectively recognize how important the arts are in our community”. 

John continues to support efforts that inspire participation in the creative economy, believing it is a great idea to honour artists through the award program. 

Standing the test of time 

As a Vancouver resident, who lives part time on the Sunshine Coast, John acknowledges that his artistic practice is influenced by his home. “Vancouver is a wide-open field to do what one wants to do. You don’t have to fit a certain mold to make yourself known like you might have to in cities like London or New York. I guess you could say I’m a big fish in a small pond.” This environment allowed him the freedom to innovate without the pressures that come with larger, more competitive markets. “Vancouver provides a supportive community that has fuelled my business,” he shares. This intrinsic drive, combined with external support, has been key to his longevity and success. 

Discovering Creativity 

Interestingly, John’s journey into the creative world was one of self-discovery and he offers the following advice: “I didn’t think I was creative. My story is about finding out that I am. My message to others is that they are far more creative than they think they are. Their uniqueness is a gift. We all need to embrace our creativity because it is the gel that holds our society together.”  

The Role of Arts in Society 

John believes passionately in the transformative power of the arts that ensure communities thrive. “Creative people shape the heart and soul of a community. While others build and manage, it’s the creative individuals who bring vibrancy and cohesion. That’s why I’m thrilled that BC Achievement recognizes this through programs that encourage people to excel creatively. This recognition is crucial, especially in a society often driven by metrics and tangible outputs,” he says. 

John hopes to see more community engagement among artists, underlining that “Artists are seers; they can envision things differently. We need to work together and have an influence on policies and city planning. The arts are crucial for the heart and soul of our communities.”  

He also sees a role for the arts in supporting the individuals living on the streets in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver. “On the street I see people carving, I see people drawing little things, and they may be in a stupor that is seriously dictated by mental health issues, yet they’re doing creative things in their own way,” he says. “Wouldn’t it be nice if we could harness that somehow and give them a sense of purpose. We all need a sense of purpose.” 

Applied Art + Design as a Career Choice 

When asked about the future of the creative field and advice for those contemplating a career in the creative arts rather than a more traditional path like finance, John offers a nuanced perspective. “Everything is creative. You can be creative in finance just as much as in traditional arts. Our daily lives are stories, and that’s our art. We are all a personal brand, and how we interact with the world is a form of creativity.” 

Staying Inspired and Creative 

What keeps John going is his commitment to creativity and the relentless pursuit of that challenge keeps him grounded and fulfilled. “Creating is my happy place. If I’m not making something, I wonder what I’m doing here. I try to make it a daily practice.”  

Forever the creative mind, in his spare time, John enjoys building and customizing vintage boats and cars. “It’s like returning to childhood. I used to love playing with cars and digging in the dirt. Now, at 76, I’m still doing that, and it’s wonderful.”  

John’s journey is a testament to the power of creativity and the importance of supporting the arts. His advice to aspiring creatives is clear: embrace your uniqueness, stay true to your creative impulses, and remember that creativity exists in all aspects of life. 

The inaugural Sam Carter Award in Applied Art + Design program celebrated its 20th anniversary launch at the John Fluevog Shoe store in Vancouver on May 30, saluting the creative economy and all those who work within it. Thank you to John Fluevog and staff for hosting BC Achievement, supporting applied artists and designers and continuing the enduring legacy of the late Sam Carter. 

Nominations for this year’s award will be accepted through BCAF’s website until June 30. Recipients will be announced in October, with an exhibit of their selected works taking place November 18 – 24 at the Roundhouse Community Arts and Recreation Centre in downtown Vancouver. 

For more information about the BC Achievement Foundation and its award programs, visit  

BC Achievement: Elevate Excellence. Share Success. Inspire Change.

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