Claire is illustrating amazing surf cartoons named »Sea Legs«. Her illustrations are about a fishtail surfboard named Fin and his cute and funny wave friends. We spoke with Claire about her surf cartoons and life as a freelance graphic designer around the world.
Hi! My name is Claire Williamson and I am the illustrator/cartoonist behind the surf cartoon Sea Legs.
Where are you based?
I am super grateful to be able to spend my time between charming Vienna, Austria, and beautiful Dunsborough, Australia.
How did Sea Legs get started?
Fin and his friends were born the day I saw Thomas Campbell’s movie ‘The Seedling’. In one scene, the camera follows the shadow of a surfer walking with his board under his arm and, to me, the shadow looked like a surfboard with legs, walking by itself. My brain found that amusing and I immediately started drawing surfboards with legs. Fin became a fish pretty quickly as that is my favorite type of board.
The waves seem like pretty important characters in the cartoon as well, do they have names?
Every surfboard needs it’s wave. I think the friendships between the surfboards and the waves in the cartoon are what so many surfers and ocean lovers can relate to; their bond with the ocean and their boards. One without the other just feels incomplete.The waves remain nameless. Like the actual sea, they can not be tamed.
Where do you get your ideas and inspiration from?
Oh man, everywhere! Surf -blogs, accounts, magazines, movies and my family: my brother is a professional surfboard shaper. I have tons of pieces of paper, notebooks and notes on my phone, filled with random jokes, incomplete Sea Legs cartoons, phrases I read or overheard that I would like to turn into a joke, things I find amusing and will try to incorporate in the cartoon later, etc. Besides drawing Sea Legs, you work as a freelance graphic designer!
What is the best part and what is the hardest part of your job?
That’s right! I run a design studio called Yes, Please, Palm Trees! with a focus on custom illustrations and logo creation. Before going freelance, I worked in-house and for project managers. I never got to communicate with the actual client or see their reaction to my work. Now, I get to learn and work with so many different people who truly care about and appreciate what we are creating together. This one-on-one interaction and feedback with/from my clients is the absolute best! The hardest part is turning off that part of my brain and not constantly thinking about my business. Having worked for 5 years in corporate design jobs, I am no stranger to long hours. But Yes, Please, Palm Trees! is my own creation and I just want to nurture and grow it all the time. I find that drawing Sea Legs is a wonderful way for my mind to take a break while still being productive and creative.
Where do you like to work the most? Is there a favorite place you like to set up your office?
I like to sketch rough ideas for Sea Legs cartoons in my notebook whenever I have a few moments to myself. For the final cartoon, playing around with colors in Photoshop, etc, I need a bit more space and love getting cozy in my home office with tons of pens, a huge mug of coffee, and a stand-up comedy show playing in the background.
Assuming you are a surfer: Since when do you surf and where is your favorite place to surf?
Growing up in Durban, South Africa and then the East Coast of the US, I have always been a water baby/ocean lover, as far as surfing goes though, I am a total beginner…I grew up in a very beach/surf oriented family, but as a kid, I was much more interested in art than sports, so I never progressed. As an adult, I learn more whenever I get the chance, but as I live in a landlocked city most of the time, I again have not progressed very far. Drawing Sea Legs is my way of staying connected with that part of myself until I’m back in the water. My favorite place to learn, to date, has definitely been Wategos beach in Byron Bay, Australia. I dream of getting back there… maybe this will be the year!
What’s next for Sea Legs?
An online shop with prints, stickers, annnnd hopefully shirts/tote bags/etc! I am mega stoked and can not wait to open the virtual doors!
Where can we find out more about Sea Legs?
For more Sea Legs, please feel free to check out my website: sealegssmile.com and sign up for the newsletter. You will be first in the know when the shop opens and see new cartoons before anyone else!