About Raven Publishing Inc.
Our unique books take you step-by-step through understanding, appreciating, and creating Pacific Northwest Coast Native art.
Raven Publishing Inc. is a Canadian business specializing in researching and writing books about Pacific Northwest Coast Native art and culture. We feel our books lead to a better understanding, appreciation, and respect for Pacific Northwest Coast art styles and the Indigenous cultures from which the art form is inseparable.
Our books are for artists, teachers, students, collectors, and anyone interested in Pacific Northwest Coast First Nations arts and culture.
Artists have used our books to create fabric designs, weaving, embroidery, painted and carved wood, decorative furniture, precious metal engraving, cement block, stepping stone and garden bed walls, mixed glass and metal lamps, tile mosaics, stone sculpture, pottery, ceramics, copper etching and enamel, jewelry, stained and etched glass, paintings, and original graphics.
We’ve had the pleasure of seeing carvers, painters, jewelry makers, tattoo artists, clothing, coin and logo designers, elementary school teachers, and high school teachers easily apply the knowledge and techniques in our books. We regularly hear how accessible it is to learn Pacific Northwest Coast formline design from our books.
Raven Publishing Inc. respectfully acknowledges that our staff live, work, and play on the traditional territories of the K’ómoks Nations, in the beautiful Comox Valley. Our headquarters are located on Vancouver Island in the small community of Union Bay, British Columbia.
Our Authors and Contributors
Our authors and contributors have over 80 years of combined experience in Indigenous education, teaching, and creating Pacific Northwest Coast art. Since 1985, we’ve been researching, writing, and illustrating our books.
Jim Gilbert, B.A. (April 8, 1932 - November 14, 2000)
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."
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.
Karin has also authored the following books available for order at School District 61: First Nations Awareness: Putting It All Together; First Nations in B.C.: Comparing Interior and Coastal Cultures; Potlatch Perspectives; First Nations Full Day Kindergarten: From Our Treasure Box (co-author with Sheilia Austin); First Nations Art Projects and Activities (co-author with Butch Dick); Sk u k altx “To Teach in School” Salish Language and Art Curriculum (co-author with Butch Dick); First Nations Young People: Becoming Healthy Leaders for Today and Tomorrow (co-author with P. Stevenson); Framework for developing First Nations Curriculums (co-author with Nella Nelson); First Nations Art Teachers’ Handbook (co-author with C. Dick, V. Newman, A. Clark, B. Dick); Raven Visits Victoria; Victoria Long Ago; First Nations Families; Grandma’s Special Feeling (First Nations use of plants); First Nations Technology (Past & Present); Wait for Me!; Whale's Tales: Positive Stories About Contemporary First Nations Young People; The Economics of Staying in School, First Nations version, for Junior Achievement Canada; First Nations Learning Resources for the Commonwealth Games held in Victoria 1997; Ucwalmicwts Language Curriculum (framework) (co-author with Veronica Bikadi); Woodworking Curriculum co-author with Scott McIver.
Nella Nelson - Nella Cook Nelson, originally from the N’amgis Nation, was born and raised in Alert Bay, B.C. Her father George Cook is from the Tsakis N’amgis and K’ómoks Nations and her mother, Ruth Sewid-Mundy, descends from the Da’naxda’xw and the Mamallikula Nations. After marrying Alex Nelson in 1972, Nella became part of the Dzawataineuk Nation of Kingcome Inlet. She has a daughter Tasha, and grandsons Gigalis, Braden, Dallas and Zayden. Over the years Nella and Alex have taken in and cared for 29 children from their home territories.
It wasn’t until Nella was in grade 4 that aboriginal students were allowed to attend British Columbia public schools. When she was 12 years old, the first bighouse since the anti-potlatch law had been lifted was built in Alert Bay. Watching it being built was a highlight of her childhood.
Nella attended both Camosun College and the University of Victoria. When she started teaching in public schools in 1979, aboriginal content didn’t exist. After 11 years teaching, she coordinated the Victoria School District’s Aboriginal Nations Education Division for 27 years. She serves on provincial, college, university, community boards and advisory committees to improve aboriginal health, safety, and education.
Nella has received the Queen’s 125 Commemorative Medal, YM/YWCA Women of Distinction, Camosun’s Distinguished Alumni, and Excellence in Cultural Heritage & Diversity Awards.
Nella’s most recent book, Welcome Family and Friends to Our Bighouse, is a contemporary story told through the voice of a 12-year-old Kwakwaka’wakw girl named Gana, who lives in ‘Yalis (Alert Bay, BC). From the time she is little, Gana attends Potlatches and ceremonies in the Bighouse. The regalia she wears—a button blanket, dancing apron and masks—were designed and made for her based on her family origins or clans. The ancient cultural teachings she learns in the Bighouse are useful to Gana in her everyday life and continue to have value in the 21st century.
Nella’s motto is: “We strive to put a new memory into the minds of our children.” Gilakasla
Wedlidi Speck, Chief Kimkaxawidi (Kwaguł- Gixsam), Chief Ma’malxtłu’sut (E’iksan – K’ate’mot) - Wedlidi is a member of the Namgis tribe of Alert Bay. He is Chief of the Kwaguł- Gixsam clan on his mother’s side, and through his maternal uncle, George Cook, Wedlidi is the hereditary chief of the E’iksan – K’ate’mot clan of the Island K’omoks.
Versed in his cultural history, Wedlidi plays the role of cultural advisor and speaker and mentor for several families. He is a storyteller, Clan Myth-Keeper and spiritual leader. He understands the importance of traditional knowledge, knowledge transfer and traditional decision making and mentors several emerging leaders and hereditary chiefs. In his work with the Ministry of Children and Family Development, Wedlidi provides cultural advice to the organization’s leadership, management and staff. In his own words, “I have been blessed to be a bi-cultural Indigenous man who is living in a time that calls for new leadership and courageous conversations. It is a great time to be alive”.
For over 40 years, Wedlidi has utilized his free time and holiday time to provide cross cultural training to provincial and federal government employees, community organizations, and college and universities with a focus on cultural awareness, sensitivity, agility and safety topics. He has volunteered on Boards, committees and working groups and is an advocate for inclusion, diversity and collaborative practice.
Wedlidi currently lives in the Comox Valley. He is married and has four adult children, five grandchildren with a 6th grandchild on the way.
Wedlidi wrote In the Beginning, there was the First World, illustrated by Jim Gilbert and Ron Stacy, a beautifully illustrated Pacific Northwest Coast creation story with 20 designs comparing the four major native art style regions. The 16-page booklet is also included in Learning by Designing Volume 2, which includes an interview with Wedlidi.
“What does First Nation art mean to me? To the Tsimshian, Haida, Kwagiulth, Nuu-Chah-Nulth, or the Salish – all Native people of the Northwest Coast – art is a way to connect to our past, to our pride in who we are as people. It gives us wonderful, emotional connection to our past. Art is also language. It’s communicating something to us … The art tells us what is really important about our past. It mirrors to the community those values or ideas that are really important.” – Wedlidi Speck, Learning by Designing Volume 2, pg. 41.
Paul Dean – Paul Dean was born in Birkenhead, England in 1947. After completing university, he entered the computer industry as a programmer. His career took him from England to South Africa and finally to Canada where he settled in Calgary, Alberta in 1980. For the remainder of his career, Paul worked for a company that produced building products, where he introduced computer integrated manufacturing systems. At the same time, Paul completed his PhD through the University of Calgary in 2009.
Paul was first introduced to Marquetry during his teenage years at boarding school. His father was a carpenter, so having a hobby using wood seemed very natural. During his professional career, Paul completed a number of pieces of Marquetry as he developed his skills and techniques. In 1996 he went to the UK and visited with Derick Austin in Wales, who introduced him to the “Window Method” of doing marquetry. The same year he spent a week at Belstead Hall in England attending a workshop given by Ernie Ives, where he learned more techniques. Since his retirement, in 2009, Paul has been able to devote more time to his craft. He recently completed a cabinetmaking course at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) where he was able to extend his Marquetry skills in embellishing wooden objects and furniture.
Paul is the author of Pacific Northwest Coast Native Art in Marquetry, a book based on the art and designs created by Jim Gilbert and published in the three books that comprise the ‘Learning by Series’ by Jim Gilbert and Karin Clark.
Sheron Ruffel – Sheron Ruffel was born in Port Alberni where her parents settled when they immigrated from the Shetland Islands. She was raised on the lower mainland where she graduated from high school with majors in Art and Commerce. She always had an interest in any type of arts and crafts being taught and she was encouraged by her mother at an early age, especially for her love of knitting and embroidery. A chance meeting with Karin Clark gave Sheron the opportunity to convert the beautiful works of Jim Gilbert into cross stitch.
Sheron Ruffel adapted the original designs of Jim Gilbert for Cross Stitch Patterns Based on Pacific Northwest Coast Native Indian Art Styles: Book 1 Thunderbirds.
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?
A bit of our history
Our first publication, Learning by Doing Northwest Coast Native Indian Art, was published in 1987 and reprinted in 1990, 1993, 1999, 2001, 2003 and 2017. It has sold over 15,000 copies to date, and it is still in print and in demand.
Our second publication, Learning by Designing Pacific Northwest Coast Native Indian Art, Volume 1, was first published 2000 and reprinted in 2002, 2005, and 2012. It has sold over 25,000 copies to date, and it is one of our most popular books.
Our third book, Learning by Designing Pacific Northwest Coast Native Indian Art, Volume 2 is an essential companion manual to Volume 1, and it explores the art’s contemporary evolution and changes made by contemporary artists. It was first published in 2002 and reprinted in 2007 and 2017. It has sold over 15,000 copies to date.
Together, our three “Learning by" series books comprise one of the most comprehensive looks at Pacific Northwest Coast Indigenous formline art written to date.