Haida artist James Sawyer was born Oct 31, 1969 in Queen Charlotte City located in central area of the Haida Gwaii(formerly the Queen Charlotte Islands).. and is currently resides in a small town of Masset located in northern area of the Haida Gwaii Sawyer credits his great-grandfather, argillite carver Ike Hans, and his uncles Thomas Hans of Vancouver and Douglas Wilson of Victoria, both well-known painters and carvers, with inspiring him to create and produce his traditional Haida paintings, paddles, wood panels and gold & silver jewelry.
Although born in Queen Charlotte City, his family moved away when he was a child. However, being a member of the Eagle Clan, the largest of the Haida clans, Sawyer often returned to the islands for family gatherings and holidays and finally at the age of 21 he took up permanent residence. Currently he resides in the small town of Masset, located in northern Haida Gwaii.
Upon his return to the islands, Sawyer honed his craft under the tutelage of well-known Haida artist Pat Wesley, an argillite carver and painter. Sawyer prefers painting to carving, and prefers to use the traditional black and red colors in his acrylic renderings.
Sawyer’s design ideas draw heavily on spiritual interpretation. A dream or sweat lodge experience will bring an idea to the surface, which he will then refine in drawings before beginning to paint.