An acclaimed illustrator and graphic designer hailing from the Cornish coast, Clara Jonas is lead and inspired by the sea, surfing and the great outdoors. We recently teamed up with the creative mastermind on a fun collaboration that we can’t wait to share with you. Below Clara talks about her creative process.

Could you tell us about how your relationship with illustration/graphic design began?

I am lucky enough to come from a family where creativity has always been super encouraged and supported, so it felt very natural to follow a path that was about self-expression and seeing the world in a creative way; be that in terms of outlook, art or lifestyle. Through each level of education this desire to create was distilled into eventually studying graphic design at University, but also growing a substantial freelance practise alongside.

What has been the most important lesson you have learned along your creative journey?

I have learnt many lessons I guess, but I think what I have to constantly remind myself is to never take anything too seriously - it is not worth your mental or physical energy to exhaust yourself in the pursuit of perfection. I try to let go of trying to be original or creating 'successful' pieces of work and just enjoy its function in my life as my work but also a means of play and enjoyment. I'm not good at being too serious haha. 

How would you describe your work and where do you find inspiration?

I am very inspired by mythology and folklore I guess, although not sometimes immediately obvious. Ancient mythologies, modern ideas, ephemeral feelings and all those good things play heavily into my inspiration. I try not to worry too much about being original or ground-breaking and instead just enjoy playing and making visually pleasing moments. I think it can be a bit strange sometimes, especially if I totally went with the strange stuff in my head haha... 

When did you first develop your connection with the sea, and what role does it play in your work and life now?

I moved to Cornwall from Dorset when I was 11 and found myself immersed, through various twists of fate, in a lifestyle very much inspired by the sea, surfing and the outdoors. I think when living somewhere like Cornwall it is near impossible to separate yourself from the environment here and the seasons, so instead you have to be fully in it. I guess it has the heaviest influence on the lifestyle I find myself in now; the freelance allows me to find a balance in my routine that enables me to get outside when I need to recharge and empty my head. The nature of my work also means that I cross paths often with people who have similar perspectives and ideals of life, the environment and how things can/could be- so my work is definitely a catalyst for some amazing conversations and connections in that sense too. 

Can you tell me about your creative process?

My process always begins with the gathering of inspiration and material; be that old graphics or illustrations, or photos and paintings to act as reference imagery. I then start picking the elements I want to use and begin sketching and refining. These bits are then digitised, and some time spent rearranging and reimaging to achieve a nice composition and effect. When I am happy then colour can come in which really brings things to life! Of course the process is rarely this straightforward and it often bounces round all over the place and I dip in and out of other projects when I need to refresh myself. I hate working on something when I'm feeling really drained as there is no spark, so keeping yourself refreshed by a change of scene is so important. The DP&F project was a new style and territory for me so that was super engaging to experiment with something new. 

Can you tell us about the DP&F collaboration? What were your inspirations for the design?

The DP&F collab was heavily inspired by old travel posters for Cornwall as well as 70s style California graphics. A fun marriage between these two elements in my woodcut style was the recipe that brought together the piece, with an insertion of bright, fun colour. Offbeat, retro and a little quirky. It's something a little different for me, but has been a style I've wanted to experiment with so am very happy that this project emerged! 

Shop the collection here.

Photos taken by: Evie Johnstone, Megan Hemsworth & Jade Sellick

November 04, 2021 — Jade Sellick