Cornwall based illustrator and graphic designer Clara Jonas spoke to Yeo about living and working in Cornwall, finding inspiration, and her dream projects.

So, first of all, you’re one of those lucky sods like us that gets to live down here in Cornwall. How much of an influence do your surroundings, and living here, have on your work?

Very much so, I guess not figuratively but the lifestyle that aligns with living in Cornwall and being so close to nature and the sea. I find the quietness and closeness of nature here in Cornwall, and the space you find when in the sea or watching a sunset, something really conducive to creativity and flow. Being connected to your environment is something so grounding and positive for all of us, and the sense of being I find in those beautiful natural moments is an experience that I very much want to express in aspects of my work. 

What else do you draw inspiration from? Do you find that it always comes to you, or do you sometimes have to seek out inspiration for yourself?

I definitely have to work at feeling inspired. Obviously there are many moments where the space and energy is there for inspiration to spark and it comes out of nowhere, however with the pace of life and the strangeness of this past year, I have had to cultivate much more time for research and exploration that breeds creativity. For me, ancient mythologies and cultures hold so much inspiration, be that in the stories and symbolism, or in the artistic techniques such as woodcut and tattooing. I think expanding my understanding and seeking out new knowledge and perspectives is the perfect catalyst for finding an inspired flow. And also the ways you can combine aspects of inspiration, and create something that feels fresh and speaks to your personal taste. 

Have you always wanted to be an illustrator and graphic designer? 

I don’t think so, I’m not really overly sure how it came about. I’ve always enjoyed creating in a visual way and made education choices that reflected that, until all of a sudden I was at Falmouth University studying graphic design. The freelance grew quite organically alongside and I needed the money, until one day I was taking on work that seriously bit into my university time, and I knew that this was something I could really do for real. A very exciting moment. 

Is there something you’ve designed or a project you’ve worked on that you’re most proud of?

I think in all of my projects there are different moments within that I feel so proud of in different ways, but I guess a project that really excited me and felt super complete and expansive was The Wanderlust Life jewellery project. The research and exploration involved in that, to find the right images and elements was super exciting, right up my street in the mythology and gemstone meaning research as well as the mantra aspects. The application by the amazing team at Wanderlust I feel lifted the illustrations so much; it feels so lovely to have a complete expansive set of illustrations brought to life so beautifully. 

You’ve worked with a lot of really cool brands, Finisterre, Wavelength Magazine and Jubel Beer being a notable few! Do you have a dream company (or companies) that you’d love to work with but haven’t yet, anyone you think is really nailing it branding wise? 

I’ve been so very lucky to work with a diverse palette of brands, and really hope it continues on a trajectory beyond the surf industry as well as some awesome homegrown surf brands. A lot of stuff I do is obviously quite surf related, but I really want to continue to challenge myself and cross into unfamiliar territory more often. I would really love to work with a kombucha or alternative drinks brand at some point, or even a cannabis brand as that slowly becomes more legalised! I’d love to do some more complex and editorial style illustration work!

Aside from your work, what do you like to do? We’d love to know a bit more about what makes you tick and what brings you joy! 

Haha, it is quite simple really. For me, a very good day is a lovely surf in the surf with friends, then an almond croissant and I am very happy. As much outdoors and movement as possible fills me up, and topping it off with a good book and some good food then I am complete. I enjoy expansive conversations, discussing the nature of this weird world and the human experience, but also have a real weakness for pretty clothes and far more materialistic things. 

And finally, how about a hypothetical one; if you could go anywhere in the world right now, where would you go?

Gosh I cannot wait till travel becomes a thing again. I am longing for some new vistas and roads. I think Mexico is one I am really excited to do at some point, so some tacos and waves over there right now would be quite agreeable. 

Check out more of Clara’s stunning work on her website: