She was born in Victoria, British Columbia. She studied art in San Francisco and Paris, then came back to British Columbia. Carr painted scenes from nature and from First Nations culture. For example, she painted many Haida and Tlingit totem poles. The Tlingit people called her Klee Wyck, which means "the laughing one." She was influenced by French impressionism.
One of Carr's most famous paintings is The Raven. Some of her books include Klee Wyck (which won the Governor General's Award) and The Book of Small. The Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design was named after her and two schools are also named after her. She is considered one of Canada's most famous artists.