Illustration by Madison Clarke Bridges

Josh Webb

Although the University of California, Santa Barbara has an excellent art department, not all students who consider themselves artists are art majors.

In fact, artists at UCSB come from any study area, and many students practice their craft even though they are busy with academics.

One such artist is Madison Clarke, also known as Madi, a first year marine biology major from San Diego. At an early age, she took a liking to drawing and animals.

“I’ve always been into art. Since I was little, it was either ‘I’m going to be an artist or I’m going to be a biologist,’” Clarke said when was asked about her beginnings with art.

Originally, Clarke decided to expand upon her artistic side and went out of her way to attend a creative and performing arts high school. While there, one teacher really inspired her to include her knowledge of biology in addition to her artistic prowess.

The teacher opened Clarke’s eyes to the possibilities of combining art and biology and helped Madi realize that she could use biological knowledge and artistic skills in her future.

Now, Clarke’s work is as scientifically accurate as it is aesthetically pleasing.

She uses Paint Tool SAI, a program used to make digital art. The program lends itself to Clarke’s style, which uses thick outlines and thin detail lines. Paint Tool SAI gives her art a sticker-like feel.  

“I feel like I play a lot more with line weights than I do with shading. I’d like to use shading more and push my darks further and make more emphasis,” Clarke said about her style and potential. 

Clarke’s talent goes beyond digital art, however. She is also a talented artist with drawing, painting, and even resin casting.

While Clarke enjoys many methods of artistic expression, she prefers digital art because this medium doesn’t require as expensive supplies to create.

Clarke chose UCSB because of the research opportunities. She’s as much of a biologist as she is an artist, and one of her passions is fish. With UCSB situated right on the coast, Clarke has plenty of access to fish and their habitat.

Clarke hopes that she will be able to utilize her science and art skills together during her time here.

One potential way she thinks her passions collide is in scientific illustrations. Scientific illustrations are accurate depictions of creatures used for study.

Unfortunately, Clarke has not gotten into any biology or art classes yet. Instead, she has to take difficult chemistry classes first.

While the classes are tough, Clarke keeps her eyes on the life-science prize.

“Every day walking back from chemistry, I take a small detour to the biology buildings and I see the name and I’m like this is why I’m here,” Clarke said. “This is why I’m dealing with this.”

Clarke’s art can be found at or reposted on her twitter account, @madimakesart. Contact Clarke to see more or make a purchase at