Sitting down with Heavy’s Project Development Creative Lead, and ‘artist’ whisperer
Name a role here at Heavy Industries and Sander Henriksen has likely done it. Over the past decade, Sander has seen it all when it comes to the evolution of the company, working first hand on projects from the technical execution, and now applying that expertise and knowledge in an office role on the upfront planning and development.
We recently sat down with Sander to learn more about his Heavy journey, how his experience has benefited him when working with artists and what is the best part of his day.
Q: How long have you been here at Heavy?
Sander: “It’s been about 10 years. I started as a sculptor where I spent the first five years doing everything from woodworking to welding to working with EPS Foam. I then took on the lead for the sculpting department, adding paint and carpentry. Later, I transitioned to other roles at Heavy that focused more on the upfront planning and, project development.”
Q: What does your new role entail?
Sander: “It’s a creative lead role where I work directly with artists and architects, create relationships and see if there are opportunities to work with Heavy. There are generally two ways we will work with creatives on a project. The first is a designer has a project that needs to be fabricated. The second is it’s plan-build where we are involved from the very beginning. In the second instance, we work with developers to realize opportunities for architectural features or public art, bring artists on-board, help set budgets and sometimes even help nurture the story behind what will be built.”
Q: What are some the skills you feel are the most important when working with creatives in both those examples you mentioned above?
Sander: “It’s an understanding of what they do. I have an art background, including a Fine Arts degree from Mount Allison University and I attended the Alberta University of the Arts. Combine that with the 10 years I’ve spent working at Heavy in a number of roles – working with different materials, being involved in hundreds of projects – and it helps me relate with creative professionals in a way that offers a perspective that I hope is valuable to them. All of this helps in understanding their intent and their approach, as well as a way to execute it.”
Q: Does it come down to being able to speak the same language?
Sander: “Absolutely. The benefit to working on so many projects is I’ve also been able to see countless decisions being made – whether by the artist, designer or the fabricator. And over time, I feel I’ve been able to absorb the ‘why’ behind those choices – and even learn how to make better choices next time. It helps me see where there might be opportunities, but also anticipate the risks based on the concept.”
Q: How important is having that rapport with creative professionals?
Sander: “They generally want to know the person they’re dealing with understands what’s important, and has the ability to execute. It’s a trust thing. If you understand the ‘why’ of a project, it’s very easy to establish that trust. I really enjoy talking with professionals in creative arts. I enjoy learning about their approaches and then seeing if there’s alignment with the way Heavy works.”
Q: Is it fair to say that those relationships end up being very personal?
Sander: “At the end of the day, it has their name on it. We’re trying to help them achieve their vision. And that’s where Heavy excels. We not only understand the vision, but we know how to make it happen. And a lot of the time, that involves being creative in respecting that vision, while also keeping an eye on things like budget, safety, maintenance and timelines.”
Q: What’s the best part of your day?
Sander: “It absolutely is talking with other creatives. I feel like I learn something every time I talk with them. But I also really enjoy the problem-solving aspect of what I do – whether that’s identifying the right material or adapting an approach. There’s nothing more satisfying then seeing a project work out and knowing you’ve had a part in that.”
Learn more about how Heavy collaborates with artists and key stakeholders to build world-class art, architecture and placemaking. Connect with us to start the conversation.