Hide and seek – Clarissa Brade

Clarissa Brade designs 2-dimensional graphic works with no high-end technology, yet she manages to blend interactivity into her works that carefully challenge the attention of viewers.

Clarissa is a Communication Design student who originally would have studied animation. However, her tutors in the University of Birmingham talked her out of it and she went for her second choice – illustration.

Her project, called “The Hidden,” is tropical themed, but rather than using the expected colourful shades of vibrant nature, she used black and white.

“Monochrome has been a style used by many artists for years. I decided to use monochrome after I realised that colour wasn’t as appealing as black and white when light hits the pieces,” said Clarissa.

She uses ink and dip pen to draw on hot-press paper, she explained. “They [the tools] allow me to express myself with my design. The uncertainty of thickness of lines drawn is interesting. It helps me to think of the next shape with a slight unconsciousness as every shape or pattern will never be identical.”

Despite their usefulness and elements of surprise, her tools also come with some difficulties. The biggest challenge of the project is smudging and avoiding spillage, she said.

Asking about the idea behind “The Hidden” project, Clarissa admitted she was a big fan of Where’s Waldo (or Where’s Wally) and instead of hiding a man with a striped t-shirt between the bold and daring black lines of her project, has hidden butterflies, cocoons and extra fish.

For the main image, she used tiger fishes, which is a species of fish that are becoming more popular in one of the places she has lived in – the Caribbean Sea.

“Although tiger fishes are not Caribbean fishes, they have become more and more common amongst the waters in the Caribbean. I was intrigued by their stripes and spines, which allowed me to create a great pattern. I have hidden four fishes within one image because I want my audience to have fun while looking at it.”


“I like interactivity within my work,” she added. “Instead of someone standing in front of a work and thinking ‘oh that’s nice’ and moving on, I love to surprise the audience who stands in front of a work and show them the possibility of displaying more than what is shown.” Her signature is hiding little things within her ink works, she said.

As inspiration for her greater works, Clarissa focuses on little but unique details that could be made into patterns. Rather than artificially made patterns, she appreciates the beautiful works from nature, considering them to be more valuable.

She has also received a lot of positive feedback from viewers who saw her works in different settings and have discovered different creatures in her works. She was even encouraged to sell her design and get it made into products.

As most of the communication design projects are mainly printed, Clarissa’s wish is to print her illustration on home wares such as shower curtains, tea cups, plates and vases.

“What you see are just photographs. I am currently researching for manufacturers so the home-ware pieces not yet available to be sold,” said Clarissa.

Unexpectedly, Clarissa’s dream is to work for Disney. She then said that “being my own boss and to be well known” would make her happy enough.

When asked about her long term plan, Clarissa said, “I want to be relevant and to be known for what I love. I would love to work in the field of communication design and gain more experience. Maybe passing on my knowledge and experience to others too.”

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