Bill Helin's proud native Indian heritage has played an important role in his growth as an artist. Helin is of the Tsimshian Indian Nation, born and raised in the Northwest coastal community of Prince Rupert, B.C.
His Grandfather, Henry William Helin, was Chief of the Gitlan Tribe, and his Grandmother, Maud Helin, was Chieftainess of the Gitgeese Tribe. They raised a family of seven in the remote Northwest coast Indian village of Port Simpson, B.C. When his Grandmother came to live with his family, Bill spent many hours listening in wonder as she spoke of the ways of the Past and the Power of God. Through his 'Granny', Bill learned first hand the many Legends of the Tsimshian.
Helin's artistic nature was evident even at a very early age. 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. His skill at cartooning soon developed, through airbrushing into a more progressive 'heavy metal' style. From there, it wasn't long before he was sign painting and producing first class commercial posters.
For the most part, Helin's artistry is self-taught. He learned from books, and was soon mastering techniques such as three dimensional forming, called repousse. Several jeweller friends provided him with valuable tips on gem settings and they encouraged and inspired Bill in his pursuit of excellence.
In 1973, Helin moved with his family to Nanaimo on Vancouver Island, where he graduated from Nanaimo Senior Secondary School, winning the prestigious Michael Gergley Arts Scholarship in 1979.
Several years later, while recovering from accidental electrocution, he took up woodcarving. At about this time an artist friend, Art Sterrit, was so taken with his work that he sponsored Bill at K'San, B.C.'s famous Indian Art and Carving School in Hazelton. Since then, Bill Helin has never looked at any other vocation. At first he concentrated on silver carving of jewellery, then gold. He also enjoys the woodcarving of bowls, paddles, masks, plaques and totems.
In February 1988, Helin attended the renowned Gemology Institute of America in Santa Monica, California, completing advanced courses in Goldsmithing and Gem Setting.
Today he lives and works from his studio/home on Vancouver Island.
You can also see Bill's work at his website