James Michels was born and raised in Merritt, British Columbia, and became interested in Native Art at the age of sixteen. Traveling as a young man through Western Canada, James was able to observe different artists and their works.
Later on, while employed at a log home company in 1994, he gained the experience with tools and materials that enabled him to begin carving. He has apprenticed with acclaimed Coast Salish artist Joseph Campbell and cites Carrier artist Larry Rosso as a source of inspiration. This developed into an interest in bentwood boxes, which has become his specialty.
James created custom bent boxes for the participants of the 2005 PGA Golf Skins Game in Whistler, BC. In 2008, he created a large bentwood box for the Royal Bank of Canada called "The Mendl Gathering," which contained only inlays and operculum shells.
James' bent boxes can be found in many of the most notable Northwest Coast galleries in North America, as well as in private collections around the world. He has been commissioned by clients such as the Canadian Federal Government, former Prime Minister Paul Martin, former President Bill Clinton, Jim Pattison, and singing legend Joni Mitchell.