Shawn Aster is Tsimshian from the Gitkxaala Nation, which means "People of the Open Sea", because they are the westernmost Tsimshian group. He cites his inspiration as coming from classical Northwest Coast formline work and sculptures. With his mother being a Gitkxaala artist, Shawn was motivated from an early age to practice Northwest Coast art. In 2008, Shawn was selected to attend the prestigious Freda Diesing School of Northwest Coast Art. He was taught the formal language of Tsimshian design by world renowned artists Dempsey Bob, Ken McNeil and Stan Bevan. Under their mentorship, he learned to sculpt, creating fine masks, ladles, paddles, spoons and bowls. Shawn now illustrates and designs characters from old Northwest Coast stories of mythology, history and beliefs on both paper and wood sculptures.