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Wendy MacNaughton

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Wendy MacNaughton
EducationArt Center College of Design
Columbia University
Known forIllustration, Comics journalism
SpouseCaroline Paul

Wendy MacNaughton is an illustrator and graphic journalist based in San Francisco. MacNaughton has published eleven books, including three New York Times best-sellers.[1] MacNaughton's work combines illustration, journalism, and social work to tell the stories of overlooked people and places.[2] Her art has appeared in The New York Times, NPR, Juxtapoz, GOOD, Time Out NY, 7x7, and Gizmodo.[3] She has created magazine cover images for 7x7[4] and Edible SF. Her illustrated documentary series, "Meanwhile," was first published in The Rumpus in 2010, then in 2014 as a book, Meanwhile in San Francisco, the City in Its Own Words.[5][6][7] In 2016, 'Meanwhile' became the regular back page column in California Sunday magazine.[8]



Wendy MacNaughton was born in San Francisco, California. After earning a BFA from Art Center College of Design in 1999, MacNaughton worked as a copywriter and designed a campaign for the first democratic local election in Rwanda in 2000.[9] She has worked on other campaigns in Africa and produced a film in The Democratic Republic of Congo. After her return to the United States, MacNaughton left advertising to take a Masters in International Social Welfare from Columbia University in 2005.

Since 2010, MacNaughton has been working as an illustrator full time. In 2016, MacNaughton and illustrator Julia Rothman co-founded Women Who Draw, an international directory and advocacy platform promoting visibility for underrepresented illustrators.[10]

Coverage of the Guantanamo Military Commission


In December 2019 MacNaughton was tapped to supply illustration to supplement The New York Times coverage of the Guantanamo Military Commissions.[11] During its sixteen years of operation the US Department of Defense had only approved four earlier illustrators. MacNaughton had to undergo a security check, and had to agree to a strict set of rules and other restrictions.[12]

MacNaughton wrote that Carol Rosenberg, the reporter she was working with, had warned her she could not really understand how covering Guantanamo would affect her, until she experienced it herself.[12] She wrote that there was a list of items that she could not include in her drawings, without making it was obvious something had been left out. When the officer assigned to approve her work went through her drawings he required her to surrender her hand-written copy of the restricted list, even though it was not classified, and had been previously published.

MacNaughton described only understanding the days proceedings later, when reporters explained it to her. She described covering the court as so stressful that she took up smoking again, even though she had quit ten years previously.[12]

Rosenberg wrote that, when he knew MacNaughton was not present, drawing the court, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed went back to adding a combat jacket over his traditional Islamic robes.[11]

Published works

  • "Salt Fat Acid Heat" (illustrator; Samin Nosrat, author), 2017, Simon & Schuster ISBN 9781476753836
  • "The Gutsy Girl" (illustrator; Caroline Paul, author), 2016, Bloomsbury ISBN 9781632861238
  • "Pen & Ink, Tattoos and The Stories Behind Them", (illustrator; Isaac Fitzgerald, editor), 2014, Bloomsbury ISBN 9781620404928
  • "Meanwhile in San Francisco, The City in its Own Words", 2014, Chronicle Books ISBN 9781452113890
  • "Lost Cat: A True Story of Love, Desperation, and GPS Technology" (illustrator; Caroline Paul, author), 2013, Bloomsbury ISBN 9781608199778
  • The Essential Scratch & Sniff Guide to Becoming a Wine Expert (illustrator; Richard Betts, author), 2013, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt ISBN 978-0544005037



Personal life


MacNaughton lives in San Francisco. After 15 years of marriage to her wife, writer Caroline Paul, the two separated in 2023.[15] MacNaughton and Paul collaborated on two books: Lost Cat and The Gutsy Girl.[16]


  1. ^ "Books by Wendy MacNaughton". Retrieved 7 November 2018.
  2. ^ "Wendy MacNaughton's Illustrated Journalism Draws Extraordinary Stories from Everyday Lives". Art Center Dot Magazine. 20 December 2017. Retrieved 16 November 2018.
  3. ^ Spielberg, Greg T. (14 January 2011). "Gizmodo taps illustrators to give stories more punch, pop, pow!". Nieman Journalism Lab.
  4. ^ Jennifer, Pollock (28 June 2010). "Q&A With July Cover Artist, Wendy MacNaughton". 7x7.
  5. ^ Bowles, Nellie (13 May 2011). "Wendy MacNaughton's 'Meanwhile' eyes S.F. library". San Francisco Chronicle.
  6. ^ Yager, Sarah (July–August 2014). "Meanwhile in San Francisco". The Atlantic. Retrieved 7 November 2018.
  7. ^ McMurtie, John (28 March 2014). "'Meanwhile in San Francisco,' by Wendy MacNaughton, review'". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 7 November 2018.
  8. ^ McGray, Douglas (2 June 2016). "Meet our new back-page columnist, Wendy MacNaughton". California Sunday. Retrieved 7 November 2018.
  9. ^ ""Design for Democracy" African Style". Design-Altruism-Project. 3 July 2006. Retrieved 25 March 2013.
  10. ^ "Directory of Female Illustrators Puts Thousands of Options Before Editors' Eyes". KQED Arts, KQED radio. 8 March 2018. Retrieved 7 November 2018.
  11. ^ a b Carol Rosenberg (2019-12-27). "Inside America's War Court: Clothing and Culture at Guantánamo Bay". The New York Times. Guantanamo Bay. p. A1. Retrieved 2019-12-29. For the week that The Times had an illustrator in court, he wore a gray paneled vest his family sent him. Once the artist was gone, he pulled on a jungle green hunting jacket atop his traditional garments.
  12. ^ a b c Wendy MacNaughton (2019-12-27). "Drawing the Guantánamo Bay War Court". The New York Times. p. A2. Retrieved 2019-12-29. When I first walked into the military court at Guantánamo Bay in September, I was the first civilian artist in almost three years that the Pentagon had approved to sketch at the court on the base, and only the fifth ever.
  13. ^ "Talking Process and Projects with Wendy MacNaughton". The Awesome Foundation. 27 October 2011. Retrieved 25 March 2013.
  14. ^ Amatullo, Mariana (11 January 2012). "Ducere/To Lead". Designmatters. Art Center College of Design. Retrieved 25 March 2013.
  15. ^ MacNaughton, Wendy (July 2023). "Draw Together - Why This Book Now". Draw Together. Retrieved 23 November 2023.
  16. ^ Heneveld, Tammi (12 July 2016). "Caroline Paul & Wendy MacNaughton". The Great Discontent. Retrieved 7 November 2018.