Karla West was born in Vancouver in 1969, to Edna West and Ivor Lauten. Her native heritage and ancestry originated from the Nimpkish River. She is a member of the ‘Namgis band in Alert Bay, which is located in Kwakwaka’wakw territory.
From an early age Karla has been interested and involved in art. She started painting native designs when she was 18, motivated by her uncle, Albert West, and his incredible talents. Her love for her uncle and his artwork inspired her to become an artist herself.
Karla has developed a unique and modern style over the years, yet maintains traditional design in her paintings, which is very important to her. She has the ability to capture the spirit and beauty of her subjects; the majestic spirit of the Killer Whale and Eagle, the gracefulness and mischievousness of the Raven, the ferocity of the Bear and Wolf, and the power of the Thunderbird. Translating these qualities is becoming a trademark in her artwork, she hopes she can inspire others as she was inspired growing up.