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An interview with our Boardmasters Open surf designer Clara Jonas

We sat down with our incredible Boardmasters Open Surf poster designer Clara Jonas for a chat all about her creative process, her experiences of growing up in Cornwall as a surfer and how sustainability plays a key role in her designs...šŸŽØ

Hey Clara! Tell us a bit about yourself & your life in Cornwall...

Hey! So Iā€™m a designer, illustrator & artist based in Newquay. And a surfer too, which has influenced a lot of my decisions.

I moved to Cornwall when I was pretty young and joined an after school surf club which shaped a lot of my choices going forward: attending Falmouth University in Cornwall, living in Hossegor, France for a bit, and eventually moving back to Newquay and being freelance full time.

Life here is as slow(ish) and simple, with as much time in the water and outside as possible. A lot of my disciplines flow into each other, so it’s all expressive of me and my inspirations.

With living in Cornwall and working in the creative scene, itā€™s impossible not to be inspired by the lifestyle & landscape here, so thereā€™s a lot of people seeking similar ways of living.

I like to keep my life and work as spacious and intentional as possible, with time to connect properly with a project and the creative process. And not forgetting plenty of time for pastries and decaf coffee in good company. Balance!

We love our new Boardmasters Open Surf poster! How did your experiences of growing up in Cornwall as an avid surfer influence your approach towards the design process? Where did the illustration idea come from?

Iā€™m so glad you like – it was a joy to put together! Being a surfer in Cornwall was probably actually my ticket into the creative world. So many of the early work connections I made were made in and around the water. Surfers are creative folk!

In terms of how surfing influences my process, it actually also teaches you a lot of things that can transfer to creativity. Being flexible and adaptive – be that through a wave or creativity – as well as having to let go of an outcome and let your ego take a hit. Stylistically, I love to find ways of subtly weaving surfing as a theme through my work, or finding unexpected ways of expressing it and the experience.

For the Boardmasters illustration, we talked about lot about retro surf poster imagery and the focus on landscape. I wanted it to feel very evocative of Cornwall, of Fistral, and the environment here. You can see the Cornish palm trees in the illustration as well as the really recognisable Headland Hotel.

Instead of Hawaiian retro, we wanted that Cornish feel. (Also, the slightly Celtic feeling pattern work framing are a subtle nod to this heritage!)

You're inspired by a desire to contribute towards a more connected + sustainable future - how does this inspire your design work?

Nature (in her many forms!) is a huge influence in my work. I think a lot of us are rekindling relationships with nature, and actively reconnecting to a lot of our wild spaces as well as closer to home ones. We are intrinsically connected to nature.

For a truly sustainable future and to protect our earth and each other, we need to remember this and the relationship we have with land, the creatures we share it with and the communities we build there. Finding ways of being able to visually express that connection is my way of contributing to that connection.

What's a typical day like for you when you're designing a project?

I spend a lot of time in the research and sketchy phases! Probably most of the project time really. Looking at different inspirations means youā€™re most likely to find something thatā€™s more interesting or unexpected.

And then sketch after sketch exploring composition and layout is what will take a lot of time too, and making sure you are pushing your expectations and playing with ideas outside of the most obvious solutions.

I tend to do the full render (or finished piece) on a separate day if itā€™s a bigger project as the ideas and inspiration stage takes up quite a lot of energy, and I like to be in a fresh headspace to start the final piece.

What's next for you? Are there any types of design or illustration you'd love to try?

At the moment, Iā€™m doing a lot of work in creating compelling illustrative branding for small businesses that align with my style and values, and I am working with some lovely clients. Iā€™m really trying to find ways of weaving more painting and analogue work creation into my weeks.

When you work commercially you obviously spend a lot of time digitally creating with efficiency for a client brief, and for me painting is the loveliest way to chill out and create something for myself!

Animation is also on the list to really get my head round and experiment with some fun pieces. So keep an eye outā€¦

Check out the Boardmasters Open surf poster...

The Boardmasters OPENĀ will take place atĀ Fistral BeachĀ from theĀ 7th ā€“ 11th August 2024!Ā For theĀ NINTHĀ consecutive year,Ā WSLĀ make their highly anticipated return.

TheĀ bestĀ ofĀ UKĀ andĀ internationalĀ surfers will go head-to-head in the countryā€™sĀ BIGGESTĀ surf competition. Pro surfers make their welcome return competing in theĀ shortboardĀ (QS 1,000) &Ā longboardĀ competitions (LQS 1,000). Plus, the next generation of world-class groms will battle it out in theĀ Boardmasters Junior OpenĀ competition.

Surf applications will be opening soon. Plus, keep your eyes peeled for our brand new merch capsule collection coming soonā€¦

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