Zoom In on Women’s Skateboarding and Photography with “Yeah Girl”

We asked the project's founder, Sarah Huston, about the momentum behind women's skateboarding and the importance of uniting rad female creatives.

If you think about skate photographers, most of the big names promoted by the media belong to dudes. For years, skate photography was positioned as a guy thing—but luckily that’s all changing, thanks to initiatives like Yeah Girl. Founded by Australian designer, skater and all-around creative powerhouse Sarah Huston, Yeah Girl started out as a photography exhibition showcasing female skateboarders shot by female photographers. Ever since the exhibition took place in March of this year, Yeah Girl has continued to grow into a movement documenting women’s skateboarding and its creative undercurrents through things like zines and a growing community of women down with the message. In the midst of this momentum, we thought we’d take the time to hear Sarah’s story and learn why spotlighting women in skateboarding is more important than ever.

GIRLS ARE AWESOME: Hi Sarah! You’re a bit of a creative octopus. Tell us what you get up to.

Sarah Huston: (chuckles) You could call it that! With a few missing tentacles, perhaps. First and foremost, I’m a designer working on everything from graphic and web design to product design. That’s my bread and butter, so to speak. I also do a bit of photography, mostly skate photography. And for good measure, I like to throw in a bit of copywriting and illustration.

How did you get into design?

It kind of happened unexpectedly. I was always into creative stuff growing up, but I didn’t ever see it as a career direction. I went to art school for a while, but just because I liked art. When I decided to go to Uni, I planned to study law. I went to the Uni Open Day and had a short conversation with a very unenthused law student who was clearly hating life. I wasn’t signing up for that, so I wandered down to the visual arts building where I met an overly excited long-haired man in a Hawaiian shirt who couldn’t wait to tell me about the car he was making out of cardboard. That was the moment I knew I’d found my calling.

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Did that lead you to photography?

I learned photography basics at Uni and used it a bit for my design work, but it wasn’t until I started shooting skate photos that I really got into it. The basic principles of design, like balance, contrast and proportion can also be applied to photography, so I’d say my design background definitely helped when I picked up a camera.

What is Yeah Girl?

In the broadest sense, Yeah Girl is a celebration and documentation of women’s skateboarding and its creative undercurrents. More specifically, though, it’s a photography exhibition featuring photos of female skateboarders shot by female photographers from around the world. I feel like the concept has potential to morph into many types of events, but at the core it’s a movement which aims to give more exposure to female skateboarders and highlight the creative talents within the female skate community.

How long have you been doing this and what are some of the best things that have come out of it?

I started working on the exhibition in October 2015 and it came to life with the exhibition opening in March 2016. The best thing is being able to contribute to the women’s skate community in general—helping to provide more exposure for female skaters and photographers, encouraging more girls to get on a board and building more awareness and acceptance of women’s skateboarding. The exhibition also raised money for Skateistan and it was awesome to be able to support such a good cause. For me personally, it’s been a good challenge that’s made me step out of my comfort zone, learn a lot and meet some great people doing awesome things.

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What’s important about spotlighting women in skateboarding?

There has always been a massive gender gap in the industry and the coverage of women’s skateboarding in core skate media has been next to nothing. I feel like we’re finally seeing a change now, though. Even since the concept for Yeah Girl was born, the industry has changed dramatically. Women’s skating is going through a real transition so I think it’s important to capture this moment in time and document it.

What’s the curation process been like?

The only photographer I knew personally was Lisa Kindberg. Everyone else I contacted through email or Facebook. I’d had a few people on my radar that I’d discovered online or through mutual connections. Being from Sweden, Lisa played a big part in getting the other European girls on board which was a massive help, considering I was just some girl from the other side of the world asking photographers to send me their images and trust me to print and exhibit them in Australia. Thankfully, my emails were met with an amazing amount of enthusiasm and support and it was all surprisingly seamless. Everyone was really on the ball with meeting the deadlines, which made the whole process flow nicely.

Did you have a specific brief for how you wanted everything to look, or was it pretty open?

I selected the photographers for their range of aesthetics and I kept the brief open so that each photographer could include work true to their style. Each one captured the world of women’s skateboarding in a different way and I wanted to highlight those different views—from the competition photos and the lifestyle photos to the abstract ones. The only rules (I hate that word) were that the images needed to feature a female skater, or be inspired by or associated with the world of women’s skateboarding.

Who’s killing it right now? Both in photography and skateboarding.

As far as skaters go I think Brighton Zeuner is undoubtedly killing it. Taking out the Vans Park Series Women’s Final at 12 years old is an impressive feat. Josie Lori is blowing up on the ‘gram right now and I’m digging her style. As for photographers, I just spent some time with Louisa Menke in Barcelona and got a sneak peek of some photos she shot recently for an upcoming project. I’m super hyped to see the outcome. The photos are awesome. She’s definitely killing it.

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So you’ve exhibited in Ozzy. What do your ambitions for Yeah Girl look like? What’s next?

Well… good question! I’m exploring a few options at the moment and looking to Europe and the States with a few things in mind for the coming years. Women’s skateboarding is evolving and Yeah Girl will evolve with it. The location, size or structure might change, but Yeah Girl will continue to focus on the intersection of women’s skateboarding and creativity, and keep supporting the growing community of female skaters.

That’s something we can definitely get on board with. Thanks, Sarah!