Joe David was born in the traditional Tla-O-Qui-Aht (Clayoquat) village of Opitshat on Meares Island, situated off the west coast of Vancouver Island. Although raised in Seattle, Washington for part of his youth, he has always maintained close ties with his home village. His father, Hyacinth David, was a respected chief and elder of the Clayoquot nation and was responsible, to a large extent, for David’s interest in spiritual pursuits and studies.
David had a formal training in fine arts and commercial art in Markos, Texas and Seattle, Washington. He was also taught by artists Bill Holm, Frank Charlie and Duane Pasco.
He has an abiding interest in the shamanic traditions of his cultural heritage and participates each year in the Sun Dances in the Southwestern United States. He has a great interest in other aboriginal cultures and a strong relationship with the Maori, for years attending and participating in many of their events in New Zealand. He has worked on several collaborative projects including a large show with well-known Tlingit glass artist Preston Singletary in 2011.
David is a diverse artist, deftly applying his creative skills to multiple mediums including wood, bronze, paper and metals. David is one of the most well known and best represented contemporary artists of the Northwest Coast with work in museums and private collections internationally. Among his most famous pieces is the welcome figure at the University of British Columbia Museum of Anthropology.
David is one of the finest singers of the old Nuu-chah-nulth songs. He has also learnt some of the Haida songs from his connections to Robert Davidson. He is an enthusiastic participant in contemporary Nuu-chah-nulth ceremonies and enjoys giving lectures on Northwest Coast art.