Meet: Jonas Claesson and His Incredibly Charming Surf Artwork

Jason Lock

by on

Updated 98d ago

Artwork and illustration has its place as a medium for encapsulating the feeling and spirit of gracing a wave. Much like music and photography, it is a creative outlet, fuelled from the desire to seek waves and translate that to pen and paper (or pencil, paint brush and canvas.)

Meet Jonas Claesson (aka @jonas_draws) a Swedish artist now living in Australia whose artwork is unique amongst our humble community.

Ever seen a moose slide on a log? How about a sloth pushing toes to the nose – or a cheetah standing tall in a pit? You see, Jonas creates some of the most encapsulating surf designs around, posting them to Insty and inspiring more than a few double taps. It's artwork you cannot help but crack a smile at, successfully epitomising some of the shared experiences we all have as surfers, presenting that with a lighthearted twist.

We checked in with the artist to chat design, the use of animal imagery and his surfing background.

Tell us a bit about yourself, where did you grow up? And are you a surfer?
JC: Yep, I surf. I grew up in Sweden and first tried surfing when I was on a language course to Guernsey when I was 15-years-old, and got hooked on it - the ocean, the anticipation of good waves, the smell of wax, I loved all of it and still do.

Now I live in Freshwater on the Northern Beaches of Sydney. It is a beautiful place, just north of Manly, it has a nice community feeling to it, a fun beach break nestled in between two beautiful cliffs. There are also some great little coffee shops, bars and restaurants.

Your artwork is unique and manages to capture the comfort in solitude, that 'essence' of surfing in a different medium. Where does the inspiration come from?
Thank you, that is a very nice compliment. The inspiration comes form things I like to do and aspire to do. I think it's pretty fun to try and capture the feeling of adventure, a road trip, searching for waves with a few friends and all those feelings and experiences that comes with that.

I love being outdoors, surfing, the ocean, mountains and everything in between. I tend to draw stuff that I love and aspiring to do so that is probably where it comes from.

And it’s all animals surfing. Can’t really go wrong with that, right? Any particular piece you’ve created where you’ve thought, this is it. This is quintessential surfing.
Never really felt that this is it. But I was really happy with how the piece Moonlight came out.

This piece, in fact.

This piece, in fact.

Your book, ‘The Surfing Animals Alphabet Book’, how did that idea come about?
My mom and girlfriend had both suggested that I should do a children’s book for some time. One day when I was surfing I thought that it would be fun to draw an animal that starts with A, post it on Instagram and see what people out there thought I should draw for B… That was the start of it, it was a very fun process that took about a year from start to finish.

How long does a piece take from start to finish?
It really depends, some smaller stuff takes a couple of hours, and some larger stuff can probably take around 15 hours. It is really hard to say because I never time it and I also usually work on several different things at the same time.

Some stuff I work on and then don’t touch for a few months and then spend one hour and finish it when I come across it in a drawer.

And I think a lot of your artwork captures that feeling we’ve all had, when it’s just you, a few buddies in the most perfect of setups. Has that been born from experience?
I would say the feelings come from experience for sure. But the landscapes and waves come from imagination and places I would like to visit and experience.

I recently had a fantastic session when my brother came to visit me in Australia. We had been driving south a couple of hours and one morning we got these small perfect waves all to ourselves with beautiful untouched nature all around us. Those moments are special for sure.