Derek Wilson began his career as an artist at the age of five, when he studied―along with his brother Barry―under the guidance of his uncle, Henry Robertson. Their crest is the Killer Whale.
Wilson used a variety of materials, working in wood, silver, gold, copper, ivory, gemstones and silkscreen. His work is known for its creative design and precise execution. He attended Vancouver Community College for formal training in stone-setting and he often incorporated abalone or precious/semi-precious stones into his pieces.
In 1981, the Queen of England received a gold ring from Derek as a representative gift from the visiting First Nations. From 2004 to 2006, Derek helped his uncle Henry Robertson oversee the recreation of the nineteenth-century G’psgolox pole that was made for the country of Sweden as part of a repatriation deal between Sweden and Canada. Derek was featured in the National Film Board's documentary Totem: The Return of the G’psgolox Pole.
Derek was also a teacher, having taught at the Northwest Coast Jewelry Arts Program at the Native Education College in Vancouver BC. He worked with established artists like Kelvin Thompson, Ivan Thomas and Dan Wallace. Wilson passed away in September 2011.