Wilson McLean began his career in a London silkscreen studio at fifteen. Born in Scotland, he moved to London at the age of ten where he attended various art schools at night while working on the staff of magazines and design studios. This exposed him to the work of American artists and convinced him that eventually he would go to America. At twenty-three, Wilson moved to Copenhagen and the beginning of study and serious work. After a period of time working in Spain, he returned to London for several years before deciding to move to New York.

After establishing himself in New York City he had a one man show followed by two annual summer workshops in Zurich, working on lithographs, culminating in a one man show of lithographs and paintings. During the years he has participated in group shows in New York and other parts of the country. He is represented at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C., as well as the Air and Space Museum in London in the London Transport Museum Permanent Poster Collection. In 1985, to commemorate European Music Year, Great Britain commissioned McLean to design and illustrate five stamps for a special edition of British composers. In 1989 he had a one man show in Savannah, Georgia. He designed a set of Broadway musical stamps for the United States Postal Service. The Oklahoma! stamp is on display at the National Postal Museum. He contributed to an exhibition and book for the United Nations Environment Program, titled "Art for Survival."

Next came a children's book called "If The Earth, A Small Look at a Big Thing," published by the Greenwich Workshop Press which features eighteen paintings. In the year 2000, for the Millennium, Great Britain commissioned a stamp based on the Pilgrims journey to the New World, which was one of a number produced by such people as Hockney and Eduardo Paolozzi.

His teaching has included Syracuse University, The School of Visual Arts, Kent State University, Savannah College of Art, Ringling Brothers in Florida, as well as workshops throughout the United States.

In June 2007, he has a one man show of Jazz paintings at the John David Gallery in Hudson, New York.

In 2010 he was inducted into the Society of Illustrators "Hall of Fame" in New York.

In 2011 he was interviewed for the National Endowment for the Arts Art Works blog. Click here to read the interview.