We are delighted to announce our partnership with Cornwall-based artist Clara Jonas as part of our Birthstone Collection Relaunch.
Clara has worked with us to create 12 beautifully illustrated mantras designed to reflect the properties of the 12 semi-precious stones in our Birthstone Collection.
We caught up with Clara over a cup of tea in her studio to talk about the collaboration and hear more about her life as an artist. Read the full Q&A below.
A lot of your illustrations have an oceanic vibe. Did you grow up by the sea?
I was born in Dorset and moved with my family when I was about ten to Boscastle in North Cornwall, a very quiet fishing village. I discovered a whole new way of being with the lifestyle of surfing and everything. I’ve lived most of my life there. It was a good move – I was pleased with Mum for that one!
More recently you’ve been dividing your time between the UK and France. That sounds complicated in the current environment!
I don’t really know what’s happened! It’s all been a bit mad. I finished university last year and then I worked for the surf brand RVCA in France for a little bit. I was getting quite a lot of momentum with my own freelance work at the time, which was very lucky, so I thought I would just keep on going with freelancing. It’s been great – really, really good – because there’s so much freedom within it. I was supposed to come back to France in March but then lockdown happened and I was stuck in England for a little bit. I managed to get out again in July. Crazy crazy times.
Is it hard getting a work/life balance?
When I get the fruits from it, I think it’s fantastic. But I’m either all or nothing – I either work for days on end from very, very early to very late, don’t socialise, don’t surf, don’t do anything. And then I go the other way and I just want to surf and do nothing else!
What kind of environment do you need to produce your beautiful creations
It’s really bizarre actually! I have to totally get dressed, and I have to feel like I look nice. I have to sit myself at a table. Laptop is on the table, notebooks are at the side and I’m properly dressed and ready to go. I have to be in the zone! That’s kind of my vibe.
What role does instinct play in your life and freelance business?
I feel like when I start operating from fear – saying “Ok I’ve got to take what I can get” – it becomes a bit self-fulfilling. All of a sudden, you’re in this spiral of saying “yes” to stuff that you really don’t identify with. You can really spin yourself out, not really sure which way is up. I’m very, very lucky to be honest. The majority of my projects I really identify with and feel so excited about.
What does an ideal day in the life of Clara look like?
When I’m feeling on top of projects and pretty chilled out, most mornings start off with getting outside in some way. I like surfing in the mornings so it feels like I’ve completed something, then a decent lunch and work in the afternoon. I find I work so much more efficiently when I’ve given myself time outside. It feels like you drop out of your head and actually into your body. You get more of a grounded perspective.
Do you have a mantra that you’re focusing on at the moment?
When you’re a creative freelancer, you can be so into your work that it’s like an extension of yourself and you forget about all the other beautiful things in life which inform the work and give it space to breathe. You can burn yourself out, so I’m focusing on spending time in nature, visiting different places, looking at different things. One of my mantras is “breathe a lot more space in” – to slow down and just simplify everything.
What’s in the immediate future for you?
I’ve been really, really busy with work the past few months, so I’ve haven’t really had a chance to reflect on things. But I’m finishing quite a lot of work in the next few days and then I’m trying to take three or four weeks to just reassess my direction a little bit. I do feel it’s been such a steamroller of a year!
What’s next for you in terms of your creative work?
I want to do more spontaneous creativity and lots by hand, with more physical interaction with my sketchbook. I work digitally probably about 70 percent of the time, and I really want to do more personal exploration – because I feel like that’s how you improve. It’s about doing the curious creating as opposed to creating for a reason.
When you’re lucky enough to be employed in a creative pursuit and it’s informed by a really well-balanced life, I think it becomes more meaningful. I think there’s so much more room to have more meaning within our work and more gentleness and kindness around how we work in society.
I know it sounds a bit dramatic, but I think as humans we’re not just made to be sitting at a screen all day! The pandemic has highlighted so much of this stuff that just does not make sense in a modern society – like how much time we spend working when there’s a really glorious world out there which we should be connecting with.
It seems like you’ve been able to work with a lot of brands that emphasise sustainability. What role does that play in your work and life?
This year it feels like the whole framework of society is changing, even if it is really uncomfortable. I think people are wanting to go back to having a more intimate connection with products that are made with more meaning and are made by people. Those kinds of products are so charged with intention. This year has been a reminder of how important it is to be treading lightly and consuming with care and love and intention. Even if that doesn’t manifest in black and white, I think people are realising this subliminally. It seems like in our collective psyche we’re all wanting a more natural environment to live in. It feels like there’s a massive cosmic shift happening.
You’ve created 12 illustrations to go with each of the semi-precious gems in the Wanderlust Life range of birthstone jewellery. Can you tell us about the collaboration?
I followed Wanderlust Life for ages, and I just thought it was the coolest! So much of my stuff exists in the digital ether so it’s lovely to see it in tangible applications. And it was so lovely to get to do a set instead of just a one-off image. When it sits in a set I think it’s got such a power, which is really exciting.
Each image in the set accompanies a message that’s related to the stone’s properties. It seems like you had no difficulty aligning your aesthetic with the brief.
I really believe in ancient wisdom – it’s relevant and there’s science backing it up. We need to lift it up and make it accessible!