Gus cook was born in 1982 in Alert Bay, British Columbia. He is a member of the ‘Namgis tribe, and since a young age has retained a keen interest in the art of his people. His passion was sparked by cultural programs offered in his elementary school. Gus went on to complete a bachelor’s of Science degree in Psychology from the University of Victoria.
Gus has taken great influence from his cousins, Rande Cook and William Cook. Alongside his family he credits Frank Nelson and Richard Sumner as some of his mentors.
Known for his use of repoussé, an old European metalworking technique which involves the hammering out of metal from behind so the designs appear 3-dimensional, Gus is one of very few Northwest Coast artists practicing repoussé. This unique blend of influences makes his works, while using this technique, quite amazing.
In 2010, Rande Cook went to Italy to study repoussé under Valentin Yotkovhe, a Bulgarian master. He quickly followed this with another course in New York. Upon his return home to BC, Rande started to pass on his new skillset to Gus and a select number of other artists.
Gus quickly became proficient in this technique and began his own research, reading and studying as much as he could on the topic. He had made the decision to pursue this new craft to its fullest.
“I just spent as much time as I needed to finish the piece — and did as much work as I possibly can. And that’s when things started to look up for me. That’s when I started to love it.”
This attitude lead Gus to master his practice and surpass his mentors. Cook continues to push the boundaries of First Nations art and jewelry, with his work being highly sought after.