Roy James Hanuse was born in 1943 in Bella Bella, British Columbia, but grew up in Rivers Inlet (Owikeno). While attending school in Alert Bay in the 1950’s, Roy became interested in his cultural heritage and began to explore the Kwakwaka’wakw art style. In 1966, he started working seriously as an artist.
Roy Hanuse was largely self-taught, but strongly influenced by the work of the renowned Kwakwaka’wakw artist, Mungo Martin. He later received instruction from Doug Cranmer, who was also a huge inspiration for him. Roy’s first significant achievement as an artist was selling four paintings to the University of British Columbia, which were later published in Audrey Hawthorn’s book, Kwakuitl Art (1979). Many other notable achievements followed over the course of his career, including carving a 12-foot totem for the Denver Art Museum (1972) and carving two totem poles for the Montreal Olympics (1976).
Although he was primarily recognized as a wood carver, Roy also made several limited-edition prints, original paintings, and bentwood boxes.