Willard Clark called himself a craftsman, rather than an artist. Though he enjoyed talking about carving, he refused to give interviews. As a result, we know little about him, but he left a legacy of admirable, highly sought-after prints.
Clark was born in Boston, and raised in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where his father was president of General Motors. Throughout his youth, he traveled between South America, and the United States. Thanks to his multi-cultural upbringing, Clark felt completely at home when he arrived in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He was on his way to California, but he ended up staying in Santa Fe, inspired by the artists, architecture, Spanish, and southwestern landscape.
He had studied art at the Grand Central Gallery in New York, and was interested in becoming a portrait painter. In Santa Fe, though, Clark discovered that there was no local print shop, so he opened a business. For decades, he created advertisements, letterhead, and signs; printshop business thrived, even through the depression. In his spare time, Clark created woodblock prints of southwestern scenes. His commercial design work was considered quintessentially Santa Fe, and his wood engravings and woodblock prints convey the essence of the city in the 1920's and 1930's.
After Pearl Harbor, Clark closed the printing shop and took a more secure position as a machinist at the National Laboratory in Los Alamos. Clark remained with the lab until his retirement in the 1970's.
During his retirement, Clark returned to wood carving. He created wood engravings of exceptional detail which reflected the charm of old Santa Fe. In 1988, he began creating a book of prints and reflections called Recuerdos de Santa Fe. Clark was recognized by the Museum of Fine Arts of New Mexico with a retrospective show in 1992, just before his death.