Bill Helin is of Tsimshian/Norwegian decent and is a member of the Tsimshian Nation, born and raised in the Northwest Coastal community of Prince Rupert, BC. His father was Arthur Helin, his Grandfather Henry William Helin, was Chief of the Gitlan Tribe, and his Grandmother Maud Helin, was Chief of the Gitgeese Tribe. Bill spent many hours listening to his grandmother in wonder, as she told him many Legends of the Tsimshian People. By the time he was three, he was already drawing and it wasn’t long before he was amusing his family, friends and teachers with caricatures and cartoons. For the most part Bill is a self-taught artist. He learned from books, and was soon mastering techniques such as three-dimensional forming, called repousse. In the 1980’s Bill was sponsored to go to K’San, BC’s famous Indian Art and Carving School in Hazelton. In February 1988, Bill attended the renowned Gemology Institute of America in Santa Monica, California, completing advanced courses in gold smithing and gem setting. Today he lives and works from his studio/home on Vancouver Island.
Bill spent most of his career, which started in 1979, carving traditional Tsimshian wood carving, jewellery and paintings. His art has evolved from creating large wood projects such as a 40 foot long Ravensong Canoe in 1993 and working on the world’s tallest totem pole with Richard Krentz in 1994, to illustrating children’s story books and working on many animation projects. Other projects include working with NASA and the Canadian Space Agency to design three mission patches as well as some education materials.