Pacific Northwest Coast Aboriginal Art: What Am I Seeing?

Raven Publishing Inc.

Regular price $14.95

Shipping calculated at checkout.

By Karin Clark


Now available in French, German, and Spanish, this guide book, designed to give you a glimpse of Pacific Northwest Coast aboriginal art, will give you a deeper understanding and whet your appetite for learning more about today’s vibrant, complex aboriginal cultures. Three sections show you where to look to identify many of the things you will see—from three-dimensional objects like bentwood boxes, ceremonial houses, masks and canoes, to crest designs, to the main design elements in Pacific Northwest Coast aboriginal art. 

  • Illustrates 10 well-known objects and 19 crest designs from the Pacific Northwest Coast along with meanings and stories.
  • Identifies seven main design elements along with variations.
  • 112 colour illustrations and photos
  • 5" x 8.5"; soft cover, 64 pages.

Table of Contents

Aboriginal Culture & Art Style Regions

Map of the Pacific Northwest Coast

The Potlatch

Materials used by Aboriginal Artists

Three Dimensional Objects

Bentwood Boxes
Bighouses (Longhouses)
Button Blankets
Jewelry / Adornment
Mortuary Poles
Totem Poles
Wearable Cloth Art


    Orca (Killer Whale)
    Sea Lion
    Sea Otter
    Shark (Dogfish)
    Lightning Snake
    Wild Man of the Woods – Bukwus
    Wild Woman of the Woods – Dzunukwa

      Design Components

      S Shape
      Box End Design
      Salmon Head Design
      Other Shapes

        Available from Raven Publishing Inc.



        About the Author & Contributors

        Karin Clark, M.Ed. - Writer/teacher/artist Karin Clark has had over 35 years’ experience working with children and adults. Most of this time has been spent learning and teaching with British Columbia’s First Nations in public and private schools, colleges, art classes, aboriginal/social studies courses, and university teacher education programs.

        With a primary focus on building bridges of understanding among cultures, Karin has written and published books that highlight and appreciate the varied and rich cultures of the NWPC indigenous peoples as well as how to draw, paint and carve in the artistic styles of the Pacific Northwest Coast First Nations.

        In her first book, Learning by Doing Northwest Coast Native Indian Art, co-authored with Jim Gilbert, she used her experiences and training in special and cultural education to produce an easy-to-follow, beginners’ skill development curriculum designed to foster respect for First Nations culture through art.

        Karin spends her work time evaluating teaching/learning strategies and materials, creating curriculum material, writing story books and readers, and using frameworks to create First Nations language programs. She creates material and workshops to: enhance self-esteem and motivation; create Native Indian art; learn and teach using the Cognitive Education Method’s (CEM) 6 keys to success; identify and explore personal learning styles and strategies; identify, strengthen, and remediate thinking skills and strategies; train instructors, paraprofessionals, and curriculum developers; and design flyers and brochures.

        In writing Learning by Designing Pacific Northwest Coast Native Indian Art Volume 1 and Volume 2 and Learning by Doing Northwest Coast Native Indian Art with Jim, Karin has been able to use all her skills and experience to create useful resources for artists, students, teachers, and collectors.

        Jim Gilbert, B.A. - Jim Gilbert, B.A. (April 8, 1932 - November 14, 2000)

        Jim was trained under a traditional Kwagulth art apprenticeship with the Hunt family of Victoria. He worked with and for master carver, Tony Hunt Sr., learned the basics from master carver, Henry Hunt, and felt privileged to have danced at Henry's funeral potlatch.

         Tony Hunt Sr. praised Learning by Designing Pacific Northwest Coast Native Indian Art, Volume 1:

         “This book provides valuable information about the complex variations of Northwest Coast designs. It is well researched and all artists should benefit from this information. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS BOOK. Congratulations.” - Chief Tony Hunt Mupin Kim - Klah Kwa Tzee Four Times Chief/Big Copper - Kwagulth Master Carver and Artist.  Tsaxis/Victoria, B.C. 

        Jim was a versatile and award-winning artist in both traditional and contemporary styles. Over the years, Jim was commissioned by a number of First Nations communities to produce carvings and silver jewellery to be used for ceremonial activities.

        For thirty years, Jim was an active artist working mainly in the art form of the Pacific Northwest Coast First Nations. He worked in most coastal aboriginal art styles with artistic production ranging from original graphics, limited and open edition prints, carvings in wood, ivory, bone and stone, to hand engraved and sculptured jewellery pieces in silver and gold.

        Jim was raised in Brentwood Bay on the Saanich Inlet. His early fishing and hunting partners were local and travelling Indigenous people. That, along with the influence of his father, Harry Gilbert (1898 - 1967), who painted and carved in the Native style, ensured Jim's lifelong affinity to the culture.

        In Learning by Designing Pacific Northwest Coast Native Indian Art, Volume 1 and Volume 2, companions for the previously published Learning by Doing Northwest Coast Native Indian Art, Jim shared his passion and respect for the art form and passed on his own training, understanding, skill, and experience with traditional art apprenticeship methods. His experience teaching First Nations art in Victoria schools gave him an understanding of effective methods of passing on artistic knowledge and skills to larger groups of students.

        Jim used his artistic skills to create over fifteen hundred original illustrations for both volumes of Learning by Designing. His qualifications as a biologist, teacher, artist and author made him uniquely suited to be involved in the production of this extensive working guide and reference book.

        Jim's desire was to pass on his knowledge and appreciation for Pacific Northwest Coast Native art. In his own words, "It is important to me to pass on what I have learned and to make others aware of the value of the finest and most sophisticated art form ever developed by an aboriginal people."

        Bill H. Helin (WeLaaxum Yout) – Bill Helin is a Norwegian/Tsimshian artist born in 1960 in Prince Rupert, BC. He started his art career in 1982. He has specialized in hand engraving precious metals, carving wood, painting using acrylics, as well as writing and illustrating his Tsimshian ancestral legends. Bill enjoys teaching young people, with hopes of keeping alive the amazing beauty of Native traditions, art and culture for many generations to come. Bill Helin contributed to Karin Clark’s book Pacific Northwest Coast Aboriginal Art: What Am I Seeing?

        Ron Stacy was born in Vancouver, BC, in 1943, a fifth generation North American. He has been involved with visual art all his life. “Sometimes the obligations of the artist are completely clear to me. Other times I have no understanding of what I do; knowing only that I must create. People say to me, “It must be a lot of fun, being an artist.’ I don’t find that to be true at all. It’s all-consuming hard work, which can be maddening and frustrating, but on some occasions, incredibly satisfying. Having said that, I can’t imagine doing anything else that gives so much pleasure.” Ron Stacy contributed to Karin Clark’s book Pacific Northwest Coast Aboriginal Art: What Am I Seeing?