Ernest Swanson is the grandson of noted artist Rufus Moody and a matrilineal descendent of Charles Edenshaw. Swanson has completed two design courses with Robert Davidson and has studied with established Haida artists Jim McGuire, Christian White, and Jim Hart. Swanson graduated from Vancouver's Northwest Coast Jewellery Arts program under established Haida/Kwakwaka'wakw artist, Dan Wallace. His carving style is meticulous and controlled and the work he produces has both grace and power. Ernest works in argillite, precious metals, and cedar. His work is highly detailed and true to his Haida heritage.
The British Columbia Alliance of Arts and Culture has given Swanson the award for best emerging artist of 2005 which was presented to him by Robert Davidson. That same year he, along with Tyson Brown, assisted Jim Hart in the carving of the Celebration of Bill Reid pole which was raised in February of 2009 at the Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art.