The 1977 Northwest Coast Indian Artists Guild series was the first major statement on contemporary Northwest Coast graphics.
Released at the Vancouver Art Gallery and documented in a feature catalogue produced by the Canadian Indian Marketing Services in Ottawa, the guild was curated cooperatively by the participating artists.
Many of the prints included in this collection were further documented as definitive images in later publications and catalogues. Screen-printing programs were offered during the early years at the Gitanmaax School of Northwest Coast art in Hazelton and established an interest among the artists and the potential for prints in the emerging market. For the first few years, because of the insignificant values the prints were being sold for, the artists were producing very large editions on inexpensive and often, non-archival, paper to keep the production cost down.
Over time, galleries replaced tourist shops and graphics began to earn a respected position in the fine art market—and the artists began to realize that the only way to make the art collectable was to make smaller editions—and make great imagery.
The Guild Series was produced in small editions on archival paper and played with grander scale images. In the words of Robert Davidson: “It was time to take prints from the back bedroom to the living room.”
A second series of prints was released to equal acclaim in 1978 and a lesser-known series in 1979. By this time the artists were firmly on their feet and forging careers in different directions.