How To: Get Started in Surf Art With Jonas Claesson

Jason Lock

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Updated 520d ago

Looking to get into something fresh this lockdown? Well, look, we're not going to dictate what you should or should not be doing with your free time, there's enough people already trying to do that on the internet and most of us will ignore it because we don't want to learn to crochet or bake bread or etc etc.

But, if you're stuck inside and need a quick fix to stop your mind racing at the thought of the dry life for the foreseeable, then you could pour your passion somewhere else, like, on a canvas or paper or some chalk scribbles on your driveway.

After all, surfing and art have gone hand-in-hand for decades – whether an inspirational image above the mantlepiece, the latest Kai Neville film, watching Torren Martyn on a twinnie, all these things help inspire our collective mind.

There's a Swedish-based artist though who has a very distinct style in that it's a rendition of the waves we fantasise about. Jonas Claesson comes up with all kinds of unique and amazing artwork related to surfing and if you want to try your hand at just that, we tapped him up for some how to get started in the realm of surf art.

Hey Jonas! Lots of people are going to have idle hands during this crazy lockdown period, having a swift art class sounds like it could be great. How do you recommend people get started?
Just with whatever materials you have at home. Maybe draw your dream lineup or travel destination. Or your home break. Or just start and see what happens. I find drawing waves with lines is particularly relaxing. I would try and not focus on the end result and look at it as a fun relaxing practise. It never comes out as you imagine anyway, at least in my experience.

Ok, sweet, I scribbled some lines and it looks like a five-year-old took a blender to a rainbow. What’s your process? Do you have an idea in mind and then get cracking?
Sometimes I have some sort of idea, but the finished version almost never ends up like the idea I started out with in my head.

The most relaxing and fun way to draw for me is when I start without a plan and just add things as I go along, like a story or trip that keeps building and you can create in whatever direction you like. That way you can create a moment in time that you would want to be in, just add a campfire here, and a tree here. Fun and relaxing, it does not have to look good, realistic or any way in particular. 

That makes me feel a bit better. But there’s also a load of people not able to get to the beaches right now, where would you draw inspiration from?

Just imagine where you want to be. The thing I love the most about drawing is that you can create your own little universe exactly how you want it, and for me, while drawing I can get the feeling of being there.

And, are you on global lockdown yet? How are you staying sane?
Can’t really call it a lockdown here yet. I am in Australia and there are definitely a lot of restrictions in terms of self isolating. We can’t hang out with friends and almost everything non essential is closed down. But we can still go surfing, not sure for how long though, I know some beaches are getting closed down now.

I have been working from home for years so I feel like my day to day life is not very different, so what I do to stay sane is the same stuff I do to stay sane all the time except hanging out with people. A few things that I do;

Trying to get exhausted from some sort of activity everyday, surfing or mountain biking usually.

Doing something to make someone else’s day a little better. It is not much, but I put together some free colouring pages that people can print out and colour in at home, and it has been really cool to see people from all over the world adding some cool colours to the artwork.

I made a list of things I want to get better at during this time, for example animation, watercolour and taking my Japanese to the next level (from super beginner to beginner). I try to think of this time as an opportunity to focusing more on the things I can do, rather than what I cannot do.

You can get lost in this one, right?

You can get lost in this one, right?

How would you describe the art process, like, meditative or does it ever feel laborious?
It depends a lot on what I am doing. If I am drawing just for fun for myself without a brief it is definitely meditative. When I work with clients and projects where there are other people having a say in what the end result should look like it is less relaxing, but really fun in another way. I would not say it get’s laborious. I am very fortunate to call drawing my work. I love it!

Sure is glassy.

Sure is glassy.

Right, I've got an idea of what I want to draw, how do I develop that?
I think just getting started, stop thinking about doing it and just do it. Be ok with doing bad work and see it as a natural step in doing good work.

What are some of the pieces you’re particularly proud of?
I really enjoy exploring water colours now and I was really was happy with how Glassy Lefts and The Rivermouth came out.

Beaut. Thanks mate and stay safe!