Jonas Claesson - Surf Artist aka Jonas Draws

Meet Jonas Claesson, aka @jonas_draws; surf artist, illustrator, entrepreneur and all-round enviable creative. If you spend any time on Instagram at all you will have come across Jonas’ art work, whether you realized it or not. Think dreamy, wave-filled seascapes and magical mountain-lined skies, with a healthy smattering of surf-craft riding creatures. From lazy, sliding sloths to his signature surfing moose, step in to Jonas’ imaginary world and get to know the man behind the coolest book in the world, “The Surfing Animals Alphabet Book” … “an aquatic alphabet adventure for Old Sea Dogs and Young Pups alike”.

So Jonas, where are you from?

I am from Sweden, grew up in a place called Saltsjöbaden, outside Stockholm. It is a very nice area close to beautiful forests and the ocean. I moved to Australia in 2002 to combine studying at university with surfing.

Where do you call home now, and how did you end up there?

I live in Freshwater on the Northern Beaches with my girlfriend and two cats. We moved down here from The Gold Coast about 2 years ago because my girlfriend is studying to become a veterinary at the university here.

Freshwater 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.

What did you do before you became surf artist “@jonas_draws”?

I was working on my online business with two partners. Before that I worked as a designer at Billabong for a couple of years, while trying to start a bunch of other projects on the side.

What is it about surfing that made it the central theme of your art?

Surfing is the thing I enjoy doing the most and what inspires me the most. I love surfing and everything around it, so it makes sense to draw things inspired by that.

What was the inspiration behind the surfers predominantly being animals?

I think the reason behind drawing animals is simply because I think it is more fun, but I do draw humans as well sometimes. I like the idea of looking at animals as humans though.

Any particular significance behind the moose?

No real meaning behind the moose at the start, but I think it might have some connection to myself as a swede living in Australia, kind of like a moose living in Australia I guess. It is also a great silhouette to draw, I think it might slowly become my spirit animal.

Creating art for a living is incredibly tough? Did you always know that it was what you wanted to do? Or did you just start creating and the rest followed?

It was never something I thought I had enough talent to do for a living, or something that I planned to do. It just started with me drawing every day and posting on Instagram and slowly realized that maybe I could do it. I consider myself very lucky to be able to draw for a living.

If you weren’t creating awesome art, what would you be doing?  

I would most likely be doing some sort of business for myself, or at least trying to. I have always wanted to work for myself since I was a little kid.

What words would come to mind, if you had to describe yourself in only three words?

Super duper lucky

What are you most proud of?

I am proud of the persistence I have in some circumstances.

Who or what is your greatest inspiration?

When it comes to how to think about creativity, business etc, my biggest inspiration is Seth Godin.

If you could be someone else for a day, who would it be?

Probably some really high power politician, that way I could take a few big decisions in one day!

Guilty pleasure?

Taking naps, if that counts? I probably take a nap every second day. I love naps.

When did your passion for surfing start?

I remember first getting hooked on surfing after reading a summer issue of the Swedish magazine Åka Skidor. 10 pages were dedicated to beautiful images and stories of the North Shore and there was something about it that sucked me in…

I first tried surfing on a language course to Guernsey when I was 15, and got hooked on it, the ocean, the anticipation of good waves, the smell of wax, I liked all of it…

What does surfing mean to you?

I think we surfers are a very fortunate that get’s to experience nature in such a intimate way.  

Favorite surf spot? 

There are so many fun spots. I really like a spot called Aussie Pipe a few hours south of here. It is a really fun wave in a beautiful setting.

Most memorable session? 

My brother was recently visiting Australia and we did a road trip down south. One morning we got really fun little waves all to ourselves while the sun was rising and the forests were making all these crazy sounds. I believe it was cicadas.

Biggest surf mission or most hardcore surf spot you've visited?

Ha-ha, I don’t really surf hardcore spots, or if I do, it is when it is small and very non hardcore. I have done a few road trips from Stockholm down to France / Portugal, those are probably the biggest surf missions I have done.

Favorite surfer?

I really like how Harrison Roach surfs. Rob Machado surfs beautifully too. I really like surfers that are surfing with the wave rather than destroying it if that makes sense.

Favourite board? 

I have a longboard that I really love made by Condor Surfboards in Noosa. I also have a really fun quad made by Takeda Customs, a Japanese shaper on The Gold Coast.

Finish the sentence:

I love … coffee

I miss … Sweden sometimes

I want … to rent a mobile home and travel from the most northern tip of Japan to the most southern.

Where can we find you online?

Instagram: @jonas_draws




Posted by: Emma Gibbons, on November 23, 2017
Categories: Interviews