Derrald was born fourth of seven children to Bobby and Emily Taylor Pokiak on September 1, 1963, in a small community of Tuktoyaktuk, on the coast of the Arctic Ocean of a population of a thousand. His father Bobby carves with moose and caribou antler, as well as whale bone from hand tools. Derrald credits his father for instilling an interest in carving at an early age while watching him at work. When he was young, he would watch attentively and try his hand tools working with antlers then on to soap stone, which he prefers ow. In the late 80s and early 90s, his was introduced to power tools which he mastered quickly.
Growing up in Tuktoyaktuk, Derrald spent much of his time on the land in the hunting and fishing lifestyle of his ancestors. Derrald’s artwork reflects a hunter’s knowledge in his precise depiction of Arctic animals such as caribou, musk ox, beluga, and polar bears. His ability to capture the essence of the animal he is portraying demonstrates a first hand intimacy with the characteristics and anatomy of the animal. Derrald’s artwork also includes human figures such as Inuvialuit Dancers with traditional dress as well as hunters on the land.
After Derrald’s move to Yellowknife in the 90s, he began his career as an artist, starting with the materials that his father taught him. The use of power tools allows Derrald to produce highly detailed and sophisticated pieces as well as exquisite pieces of jewelry in caribou bone and antler and walrus ivory.
Some of the festivals that Derrald had the opportunity to be invited to were Loveland, Colorado in 1997, as well as The Great Northern Arts Festival held in Inuvik, Northwest Territories every year which Derrald has been attending since 1998. From this festival, he had such awards as Feature Artist in 2002, Peoples’ Choice Award in 2002 and 2003, and Artists’ Choice Award in 2001.
Through his artwork, Derrald keeps his connection to the land he grew up on and the animals, which are essential to the Inuvialuit lifestyle. Derrald, still to this day, often travels back to Tuktoyaktuk, to hunt geese in the spring and caribou hunts for his family as well as his parents. Living in Yellowknife is far fetched from the tiny village on the Arctic coast where he started out, but it gives him the opportunity to access the art market and share ideas with a community of vibrant artists from across the North. In creating his art, Derrald finds the right balance between these often different worlds and to create an identity of his own.