Willard Clark was born near Boston, Massachusetts, but grew up in Buenos Aires, Argentina. His summers were spent studying painting and drawing at the Grand Central School of Art and the Hawthorne Art Academy. His inspirations for the wood cuts he became famous for was a family member who made carved wooden ships in a bottle for the Smithsonian Institution. Willard had worked as a graphic artist, but his interest was becoming a portrait painter. It was with that pursuit in mind that he headed for California. On the way, he stopped in Santa Fe, New Mexico, to visit friends. He was very taken with the beautiful landscape and felt at home. He decided to reside in Santa Fe and bought a press to begin a printing business. He then taught himself the art of woodcutting and engraving.
Clark built a small adobe house where he had his print shop, and he would do the printing and create his own illustrations. His training as a painter helped him learn how to remedy very intricate objects as wood-engraved illustrations. In 1942 he closed his shop and went to work for Los Alamos National Laboratory as a master tool and die machinist for the next thirty years. When he retired in 1979, Clark bought a small press and created a body of work that is now sought by many collectors for its precision of technique and artistry. He created complex woodblock prints in a style that represented early twentieth-century Santa Fe, and published "Remembering Santa Fe," a book of 48 original etchings along with stories about his life in Santa Fe during 1928 - 1943. He was given his first exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts in Santa Fe in the early 1990s.