Episode 51: Meet Clara Negrel — Art Director, Graphic Designer, Illustrator, and Surfer
Surfing and art- what a lovely combination of two of the most beautiful things in the world! A carefully crafted art brings to life the world inside it by its mesmerizing charm. It’s beyond what we call, “state of the art” when we can capture the earth’s beauty in every artwork and transform it into a heartwarming piece. The values and disciplines learned in surfing tailors in the perfect art inspiration. With the two together, it is possible to create a brand that cares for nature.
Clara Negrel fell in love with surfing at age 10. At a young age, she built her dreams around having her own shop where she can weave in all things surfing. But to make the dream come to life is an entirely different thing. As she found her way to pursue her passion, she stumbled into the world of graphic design. She is a very talented young woman who can create outstanding art in a variety of forms and themes. She also designed some of the shirts found at our very own Oceanriders Shop. As she walks the path to realizing her dreams, Clara makes sure that whatever she does, she does it with a love for nature.
In this episode, Clara tells her story as a young child and her fascination with the ocean. She also shares her travels and the most memorable surfing spots she’s been to. As a graphic designer, she’s presented with challenges unique to her line of work but despite all that, Clara finds that her path is worth taking. Life is an art. It is beautiful and it will get more beautiful as you live it doing the things you love with the people that you love. Clara’s message is short but meaningful: If you want something, just do it.
Listen to the episode here:
- 00:33 Unite For The Next Generation
- 02:49 Surfing In The Heart Of A Child
- 08:57 Weaving Things You Love Together
- 13:10 Vivid Arts and Designs
- 17:12 Challenges of a Graphic Designer
- 23:47 Do What You Want
How are you? I hope you’re still well. I don’t know about you, but, I’ve been pondering for days now and beating around the bush about posting about it, but I’ve been through a massive bout of shock and hopelessness with regards to the current events that are blazing through the world. I actually posted about it yesterday and if you’d like to find out, head over to my instagram account or facebook page @theoceanriderspodcast. My heart bleeds at the moment and I sincerely hope we will all find a way to unite and set the pace for the generations to come.
“Don’t lose any moment that you can live with the people that you love.” -Clara Negrel
It’s a bit hard to transition to my guest, because the current affairs are so contrasting with my guest’s radiant personality. Clara Negrel is my guest today. I’ve known Clara since she was a child. Clara is a vibrant, radiant, and brilliant graphic designer and a surfer. In this episode we talk about what it takes to become a graphic designer and we also talk about our most recent collaboration to create a gorgeous t-shirt for The Oceanriders Podcast. For the next year, we’re offering a special offer to our oceanriders listeners, it’s a 20% off discount on the oceanriders shop. Skip over to theoceanridersshop.com and purchase Clara’s Ladyslider Tee, use the discount code BETHECHANGE20 and get 20% off your order.
I hope you enjoy this episode.
Take care, have fun, and enjoy the waves.
Connect with Clara:
- 22:29 “If you want something, just do it. You can be whoever you want so just do what you want.” -Clara Nègrel
- 23:56 “Don’t lose any moment that you can live with the people that you love.” -Clara Nègrel
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Imi Barneaud: Hi Everybody and welcome to the Oceanriders Podcast, conversations with creatives, entrepreneurs, thinkers and dreamers who also happen to be surfers.
My name is Imi and I am your host.
How are you? I hope you’re still well. I don’t know about you, but, I’ve been pondering for days now and beating around the bush about posting about it, but I’ve been through a massive bout of shock and hopelessness with regards to the current events that are blazing through the world. I actually posted about it yesterday and if you’d like to find out, head over to my instagram account or facebook page at theoceanriderspodcast. My heart bleeds at the moment and I sincerely hope we will all find a way to unite and set the pace for the generations to come.
It’s a bit hard to transition to my guest, because the current affairs are so contrasting with my guest’s radiant personality. Clara Negrel is my guest today. I’ve known Clara since she was a child. Clara is a vibrant, radiant and brilliant graphic designer and a surfer. I’ll let her share her story in a few minutes.
IN this episode we talk about what it takes to become a graphic designer and we also talk about our most recent collaboration to create a gorgeous t-shirt for The Oceanriders Podcast. For the next month, we’re offering a special offer to our oceanriders listeners, it’s a 20% off discount on the oceanriders shop. Skip over to theoceanridersshop.com and purchase Clara’s Ladyslider Tee, use the discount code BETHECHANGE20 and get 20% off your order.
So without further ado, please enjoy my conversation with Clara Negrel…
Hello, Clara and welcome to The Oceanriders Podcast. How are you today?
Clara Negrel: I’m fine. I’m so happy to be with you.
Imi Barneaud: It’s a pleasure to have you on the podcast. I must admit with the listeners that we’ve known each other for a long time. And so it’s just even more stoked to have you on the podcast to be able to share your story. So for the listeners, do you think you could introduce yourself to the listeners and let us know how you consider yourself an ocean rider?
Clara Negrel: Yep. So my name is Clara, I’m 25 years old, I’m living in Marseille in the South East of France. I’m a graphic designer and an art director. And I finished my studies last year so I’m trying to do some stuff with people like you and with a donor shirt and it was a nice project, so, yeah.
Imi Barneaud: That’s fantastic. So where did you grow up?
Clara Negrel: I grew up in Marseille. Because my dad is a chef, we used to travel a lot, and we lived in the US, in Denver, in Colorado, and in Sardinia, and in other towns in France. So yeah, I think that’s why I like to travel.
Imi Barneaud: Yeah, exactly. So what was your first experience with surfing like?
Clara Negrel: Oh, you were there. I was 11. So actually I was 10, the first time that I saw someone surfing was on TV, a show called Summerland, and I felt like, Whoa, I love this. I want to do it. This is so great. And I talked about that to my dad and I don’t remember how, but we went to Lacanau with you and your family. I was just with my dad, and yeah, I started to surf there. And then after that, every summer I went to the southwest of France surfing, I’m like 18 years old, 19 years old, I was really into it.
Imi Barneaud: Yeah, we had lessons together I think. This is when I just started rebooting my surfing experience and you’re there, and it was just so fun. I remember the stoke on your face. It’s just amazing. So you’ve had a really kind of, you’ve been traveling a lot. I remember that you moved to Ireland when you were super young and took a year out all on your own, and you could tell us what you felt to go and live in islands all on your own.
Clara Negrel: Oh, it was amazing. I was 16. My parents let me go there and I was feeling a bit scared, and at the same time, so free. And of course I was scared in the beginning. I think it’s like, how can I say, the craziest thing that I’ve done and the beautiful thing that I’ve done. I met so many people who introduced me to surfing, I went to a surf spot called Bundoran in the West Coast. I met a lot of people there and they brought me to the beach, we were surfing together, and I had lessons, and it was really cold in the winter. The wetsuit was so, how to say, like teen is like this —
Imi Barneaud: Really thick wetsuits.
Clara Negrel: Thick, yeah. It was really thick and it was really cold. We always have fun in the water.
Imi Barneaud: Did you progress a lot then in Bundoran?
Clara Negrel: Yeah, maybe not in the beginning because I had school in Ireland too, so I couldn’t go all the time, but then I started a bit to not go to school and I was like, my host parents were really nice and I didn’t really care what I will do, just know the unsafe. All the time going to the [inaudible], and yet it was really nice to be there. I progress after maybe two or three months. And after I went back in 2012, I mean 2013, in 2013, I was really living in Bundoran everyday so I could serve everyday, and I could see the difference when you live in a surf spot.
Imi Barneaud: Oh, yeah.
Clara Negrel: Because in Marseille, there’s not a lot of waves.
Imi Barneaud: Yeah. It’s pretty complicated. And especially you have to take the bus or get yourself driven to the spots or whatever. When you haven’t got driving lessons, it’s kind of complicated. So yeah. So what’s the surfing scene like in Bundoran?
Clara Negrel: Oh, it depends on the spots. Do you mean how is surfing in Bundoran?
Imi Barneaud: Yeah. What’s the community like? The people?
Clara Negrel: Oh, it’s funny because it’s a really, really small town. So you can think that there are only Irish people. It’s quite famous and there is nothing around it, but it’s quite famous for surfing. You can meet a lot of people from New Zealand, and Australia, and not a lot of French people or people from Brittany. Yeah, it’s people who really, really love surfing who doesn’t care about the weather. They don’t go like, just like, because it’s warm, it’s because it’s empty and no one will take the waves, I think. And they can enjoy themselves just five in the water.
Imi Barneaud: Wow. So it’s really calm and empty spots then.
Clara Negrel: Yeah. Yeah, it is. Yeah. It was a nice adventure.
Imi Barneaud: So before you actually entered graphic design school, what was your first job? Because you’ve been working on and off for a long time.
Clara Negrel: Yeah. Well, my parents always told me you have to work Clara. Before graphic design, I wanted to have a surf shop.
Imi Barneaud: Really?
Clara Negrel: It was a dream when I was a teen. So I’ve done, like forest, I don’t like it. I went to a commercial school because I wanted to have a shop, and I wanted a concept store with booths, and we could eat there, and we can see some surf movies. It was my dream when I was 16. So when I went to school, I was always drawing. That’s why I went to graphic design. My first job was in a surf shop.
Imi Barneaud: Really?
Clara Negrel: My first job is in a surf shop in [inaudible]. And I think after I work in Billabong, yeah, I worked in Billabong for maybe three months.
Imi Barneaud: Wow. So did that put you off actually having a shop and getting more into graphic design and drawing an art.
Clara Negrel: When I was six, I was drawing all the time, I’m always drawing. And even in courses, when I was 17, I was in classes. I was not listening and just drawing. Yeah. So then after high school, I didn’t really know what to do because I couldn’t really open a shop at 18. So I thought, yeah, I love the arts. I can do something with it. And at this time I remember, I don’t know if you do, we were talking about this, you and me. And you said: “Why don’t you just bring these two things together. You could be a graphic designer for surfing, surf brand, or anything else, or just nature and ocean.” And I thought, Oh, yeah, that’s a great idea. And I start to study.
Imi Barneaud: That’s wonderful. I didn’t realize that that was the inspiration. Oh, my God.
Clara Negrel: It’s true. It’s really true. Well, after five years, I didn’t really think about it anymore. But in the beginning, that’s why I started.
Imi Barneaud: Wow. Oh, that’s fantastic. So you went to design school. What are the skills required to actually succeed as a graphic designer, in your eyes?
Clara Negrel: Oh, depends which level you want to get. I think to be creative, to be passionate because I have a lot of time, and yeah, a lot of passion, and to read a lot of books, go to museums to be, interesting thing, and curious.
Imi Barneaud: Yeah.
Clara Negrel: It was really important because in graphic design, every time is like changing like a computer, and an application of Adobe, and it’s always changing. And if you’re not into it, like really, you can just be lost.
Imi Barneaud: I totally get that. Just trying to work out how Photoshop or whatever works. It’s still a mystery for me. So when did you actually go and live in Canada and discover Canadian lifestyle?
Clara Negrel: Oh, I think it was always being a dream to go to Canada, I really like different places, cold places. I would love to go to Norway or Sweden. I saw about Canada because, first, I wanted to go to Canada to live in Vancouver, Tofino, to surf there, I would love to go there. Finally, I got this opportunity to work in Montreal, Quebec. I couldn’t say, no, so I said, okay, let’s do this. And Montreal is like Quebec and Canada.They are really close to nature. There is forest everywhere, and rivers, and nature is amazing over there. So I was happy to be close to that.
Imi Barneaud: That’s amazing.
Clara Negrel: So it was the perfect combination with graphic design and nature, and it was a really nice experience. I stayed there for five months and it was really cool.
Imi Barneaud: Wow. So what actually inspires you for your work on a general basis?
Clara Negrel: I will say that my personality is a part of it. I’m someone who’s quite like, I’m really sensitive and quite poetic. So in my Instagram, you can see, I think quite like this, I like light color. And I really like when you see a work, you really feel it like you’re in the place, or you really feel them, the atmosphere of the brand. That’s the most important thing for me. So, yeah.
Imi Barneaud: But that’s really amazing. I definitely recommend the listeners to go and have a look at your Instagram, which is fantastic. It’s dappled with some beautiful designs. You do lino designs, you can draw designs, you do computer design, all sorts of things.
Clara Negrel: I try to show that I can do a lot of things because I like to work on a computer, I love to touch with my hands. So linocut is, I really like it. It’s really fun. And the result is really great, painting as well.
Imi Barneaud: That is so cool. So definitely, we’ll tell our listeners at the end of this conversation where we can find your Instagram account, and a website, and how to get a hold of you, how to connect with you. So at the moment, what’s the biggest inspiration for you in terms of design. I’ve seen a lot of Northern African designs, and surfing, could you tell us more about this?
Clara Negrel: I’m trying to mix a bit of both. So has I told you I’m from Marseille. So Marseille, there is a big culture, it’s cosmopolitan, can we say this?
Imi Barneaud: Cosmopolitan. Yeah.
Clara Negrel: Yeah. There are a lot of cultures from Africa and North Africa. So Morocco, Algeria, and it inspired me a lot, and because also my origin, the data, my mom is from Morocco and my grandma lived there too. It takes a lot in my heart, that’s why I think you can see this in my draw.
Imi Barneaud: Yeah.
Clara Negrel: But I never been there. I would love to go there.
Imi Barneaud: Really.
Clara Negrel: I need to go where my grandpa is born. The road trip that my mom’s done, it’s important to do it. Hopefully at the end of all this.
Imi Barneaud: At the end of lockdown you’ll be able to get out there and go to Morocco, that’s beautiful. What do you find the most challenging at the moment? Not at the moment as in lockdown and coronavirus, but challenging in your job, what is really difficult for you to do and the most challenging for you as a graphic designer.
Clara Negrel: To get known for the moment, because I start, I finish to study in June. So for the moment, it’s to get known, because I want to work as a freelancer, that I could work from everywhere and that’s a dream for me. And of course, to get to know them. Because there are a lot of people who do nice things and who have gone five years of school.
Imi Barneaud: And what would be your ideal client? What kind of brand would be your ideal client?
Clara Negrel: Oh, it doesn’t really matter which one, like a brand who’s connected with the natural environment, and who cares about people and nature, and if it’s possible about the ocean. Yeah, a brand who cares.
Imi Barneaud: Yeah. We’ll make a shout out here with the podcast, to any brands listening that you are a super graphic designer, and to check out your work because it’s definitely worth working with you. We’ve actually had the opportunity to work together and this is why we’re doing this podcast. Well, you designed a t-shirt for me, so could you tell us a bit more about the shirt.
Clara Negrel: So we said that we will do a shirt for girls so I try to do graphic design for a girl, but I don’t really like this, because it’s a girl, it has to be pink. And because it’s a girl, you have to be super skinny, and be boobs, and so beautiful because not every girl is like that. I thought of drawing a normal woman who’s surfing on a longboard and the inspiration is a bit like 70’s in California. And yeah, I thought that it was cool. It represents your energy. I think you’re always smiling, and I love your project and The Oceanriders Podcast, and I saw that it was representing well.
Imi Barneaud: Yeah, it’s good. So should we describe it to the listeners? So it’s a longboarding lady, it’s got, I’ll let you describe it actually.
Clara Negrel: So she’s surfing on the longboard, there is like, it’s quite like a psychedelic kind of a sun on her back, and there is an nice type of, like 70’s inspiration type of graphic that’s on the front, two colors, one with light blue, and a color a bit like sand. And the other one is more girly, but not too much like sand and the bit of orange and red. I think it’s red. On the back there is The Oceanriders Podcast and your illustration with endless summer. It reminds me, of course, of the movie. There are flowers, 70’s flowers, and yeah, it’s groovy.
Imi Barneaud: Yeah. It’s gorgeous. So definitely recommend everybody to have a look at theoceanridersshop.com where you’ll find a t-shirt and order online. Clara, I guess what we could do is talk about the favorite place that you’ve ever visited.
Clara Negrel: Oh, my heart is in Ireland, but I will say my mom is from Portugal. And there is a surf spot called, sorry, I forgot. It’s near [inaudible] and it’s called, I don’t remember.
Imi Barneaud: It’s okay, keeps it a secret spot, I guess. But if someone in the —
Clara Negrel: Yep, yep. Yes, I guess. And it’s amazing, there is like Cliff, just jumping into the water, and a little town of both the cliff and the ocean, and people surfing. Not a lot of people, and I like empty places.
Imi Barneaud: Yeah, absolutely. That’s brilliant.
Clara Negrel: I think that’s a beautiful place that I’ve been.
Imi Barneaud: Yeah. Yeah. I guess what would be the best advice anybody has given you?
Clara Negrel: I think it’s my mom, or one of my friends who told me this and it’s completely true. Maybe a month ago, someone said, “take the place that you want to, if you want to work for this, just do it.” So if you want something, just do it. No matter, everyone. You can be whoever you want. Just do what you want.
Imi Barneaud: Wonderful. That’s really nice. That’s a really good quote actually. And what’s your favorite family tradition?
Clara Negrel: I think just a simple thing, as I said before, my dad is a chef, a lot of time in my family, like meeting, it’s around food, and it’s about food. Like eating fish on a sunny day, and having a nice moment all together.
Imi Barneaud: Oh, that’s wonderful. Yeah. But on the side, your dad is an exceptional chef and he made exquisite food, a great friend as well, so yeah. Wonderful. So have you got a favorite quote that you’d like to share with the listeners?
Clara Negrel: Okay. I’m not really into this. I don’t really have, I don’t really know, I will say, mine, my own, breathe.
Imi Barneaud: That’s brilliant.
Clara Negrel: Just breathe, live.
Imi Barneaud: That’s wonderful.
Clara Negrel: Any moment that you can live with the people that you love.
Imi Barneaud: That’s wonderful. That’s really wise. I guess we are arriving at the end of this podcast and I just wanted to know if you fancied answering my full sentences that I usually ask my guests. It’s just the beginning of a sentence and you have to finish it. Is that okay?
Clara Negrel: Okay.
Imi Barneaud: So the first one is I LOVE.
Clara Negrel: I love art.
Imi Barneaud: I MISS.
Clara Negrel: Surfing.
Imi Barneaud: I WISH.
Clara Negrel: To get known and to be a good graphic designer who can do wonderful things for people.
Imi Barneaud: And I WANT.
Clara Negrel: To live in the West Coast.
Imi Barneaud: Yeah. So this is a shout out to any brands that are in the West Coast of France. Clara as a graphic designer, she is awesome. How can we actually reach you online and get a hold of you?
Clara Negrel: So my Instagram, and the name of the Instagram is CMNV STUDIO. I am also Behance, it’s like a website with a lot of people who’re doing graphic design, photography, and people who do editions, anything about art. And I show my work there too. My name is CMNV STUDIO. Anyway, just write CMNV STUDIO and you will find me.
Imi Barneaud: Okay. So in terms of your services, it’s graphic design, art direction, what’s art direction? Do you follow a brand in art direction? How does that work?
Clara Negrel: Exactly, exactly. I’ve known school or graphic designer school for three years. And then two years of art communication and art direction. We can start from the beginning to the end and I can do everything, I can do web design and a lot of things.
Imi Barneaud: Okay, that’s great. So CMNV STUDIO is the name, I think you’re going to have an amazing career in graphic design, and I just wish you all the best.
That was an enchanting conversation. Actually, as I recorded it, I completely forgot that I was the one responsible for putting Clara’s foot in the door of surfing. It’s quite remarkable to think that you as a surfer are going to inspire somebody to become one too. In fact, as I speak, Clara is travelling from the south of france to the west coast to set up shop near Biarritz and follow her dreams as a surfer and an art director.
To connect with Clara, head over to her instagram account @cmnvstudio and on behance.com, look up CMNV Studio to see her work. All the details and links will be in the show notes of your app and on theoceanriderspodcast.com There are also plenty of photos of Clara’s work on the article I wrote on my website and on Medium. All the links to it are in the show notes.
Just as a reminder, to get your limited edition oceanriders podcast tee shirt, skip over to theoceanridersshop.com and use the code BETHECHANGE20 to get 20% off your order.
I hope this week will bring more positive news.
Thank you Clara for being my guest today, and thank you all for joining me on this podcast.
Take care, have fun and enjoy the waves.