Women's Lib: 'The Usual'

A magazine for surfers by surfers.

Emily Anderson and Yasha Wallin are the coolest of best friends. They are the most creative duo around; Yasha a fancy writer and Emily a creative genius, and they've taken their love for all things outdoors to make surfing's coolest mag, The Usual.

Living year-round in Montauk, on the edge of New York's Long Island, they saw how their favorite beach town brought some of NYC’s most interesting creatives out for the weekends to surf, relax, and work. So, being the insanely talented creative humans that they are, they decided to explore these personalities through a limited-edition newsprint publication. And they chose newsprint because it wasn’t precious—something people could easily read while having a lazy Saturday at the beach. 

Since they began in 2011, they’ve expanded into a boutique creative agency to help clients translate their vision through an authentic lens. They've worked with awesome clients including Patagonia, EDITION Hotels, The Surf Lodge, J.Crew, TOMS, Metallica, MoCA, and more.

I caught up with Emily to discuss the creativity, wipeouts, and what's next for my favorite surf mag. I wanted to bring up that time she passed out in the back of the car on our way home from Vermont and awoke brightly to the McDonald's drive-thru window and shouted, in her loud English accent, for two Filet-O-Fish sandwiches, but I didn't. 

Do your mind and body a favor and follow them everywhere: @theusualmontauk

The Kind: Why Montauk?

Emily: Montauk, which is three hours from New York City, is known as a “drinking village with a fishing problem,” but it could also be known as a drinking village with a surfing problem! After May, it’s like the best summer camp ever: Everyone is at the beach, surfing, having BBQs, drinking, watching sunsets, and eating lobster rolls. The rest of the year, it’s still beautiful, but quiet. We’re still surfing but there are only a few people left in the lineup. We take walks, read books, and play games by the fire. The joke is there are more deer than people in Montauk in the winter.

The Kind: The visuals and stories in each issue are so amazing, and so are the images on your Instagram. How do you make it all happen? 

Emily: This might sound glib, but it comes really easily to us. We both love to constantly create smart, inspiring content, and that passion rolls over into the people we decide to interview and the photographers we hire. It’s clear we really care about telling people’s stories.

We work very hard to make sure that every spread is a work of art, and I illustrate as much of the magazine as possible. Random things I've illustrated [include] hand-drawn typography, cartography, product details, real and fake infographics, New Year's resolutions, wedding invites, party invites, temporary tattoos, salmon species, climbing knots, my diary, aerial yoga moves, Charlie Sheen, copulating garden ornaments, lighthouses, weeping willow trees, old men fishing, 1980s ski moves, Pinocchio, car camping essentials, and a donkey.

The Kind: You guys are the cutest besties. What’s it like working with your best friend?

Emily: We met eight years ago working in the New York art world. Yasha was my boss, and then we got fired at the same time. We have been best friends ever since and at the same time transitioned out of the art world into our respective fields of writing and designing. Yasha went on to work in publishing, and sold her soul to advertising. Together, we've made magazines and books for various clients; so it was a natural fit that we’d work together on The Usual. We were going out to Montauk all the time, and we wanted to find a way to celebrate all the amazing, creative people we were meeting out there, as well as our love for surfing and the surf culture out there.

The Kind: Talk about the climate of women’s surfing. Do you see any positive changes for these professional athletes?

Emily: Thanks to Instagram and the new WSL app, I follow women’s surfing quite a bit. I’m not an insider; so feel free to discount my opinion, but it seems that the new WSL has shone a bigger spotlight on the women’s tour, and big wave world tour too. Equal pay isn’t going to happen any time soon, but I'd focus on getting advertisers involved in the women’s circuit and the money will follow. This weekend I saw a great commercial for Target starring Carissa Moore, documenting her passion and drive for the sport. I also saw that Tag Heuer was the official timekeeper for the competition at Peahi, Maui. Hopefully advertisers will eventually catch on to how fantastic these women are. I’m eagerly anticipating Quincy Davis getting on the tour. She’s from Montauk, where I live; so that will be exciting to have someone I know to cheer on.

The Kind: Obviously I need to know about your most epic and embarrassing wipeout?

Emily: The most embarrassing wipeout is whatever gets caught on film! The most epic wipeout was when I got the tip of a shortboard inserted in my head, and I spent two weeks in bed on "brain rest." Oops.

But surfing is the jumping off point for us. We’ll never be great surfers, but what we lack in talent, we make up in enthusiasm. [And] that’s what we take into all aspects of the magazine: general stoke for the people and places we’re showcasing.

The Kind: What’s next for The Usual?

Emily: Good question! We’re always looking for creatives to collaborate with on projects. We’re working with Ian Schrager of EDITION hotels to create content exploring creative people in creative cities. We’re gathering content for The Usual Summer 2016 Issue. It’s our passion project and the most satisfying to make, because we love Montauk and the people that live there.

We’ll also be having a lot of fun, making great work, and hopefully, a little money too.

The Kind: How can we get our hands on The Usual?

Emily: In the summer months, The Usual is available for free in New York and surf spots nearby, and select locations like Patagonia stores and Lightning Bolt on the West Coast and Colette, Paris. In the meantime, you can read the current and previous issues online at theusualmontauk.com.

Each week "Women's Lib" checks in with amazing ladies and we make them fill out a feminist Mad Lib.