Meet Artist & Surfer Danielle Black Lysons
Meet Danielle Black Lyons, an amazing, stylish surfer, artist and founder of Textured Waves. Learn more about her and about our collaboration with her, Paddle Out For Peace
So, tell us a little about yourself:
I grew up in the bay area in the 80s. My dad is from Jamaica and my mom is a native Californian. We spent a lot of time swimming at local rivers, and bodyboarding at the beach. We traveled a lot as a family, mainly to tropical islands to snorkel and play in the surf or to the mountains to ski. My parents separated when I was young, but my mom worked her butt off to provide for my big brother and me. We never went without or if we did we didn't know it.
Photo by Ashleigh Yob
When and where did you start surfing?
I grew up bodyboarding so surfing was a late, but a natural progression. I picked up my first board on a trip to the big island of Hawaii. I had always wanted to learn and was intrigued by the culture, I just didn't have any opportunities until that point. I think the timing was right and it was helpful to be in a low pressure environment, just playfully trying out a friend's board. It helped that I already knew how to catch waves so I stood up on my first or second attempt. It was an immediate obsession after that!
Why did you start surfing?
I always wanted to learn. Being a water woman my whole life, it was the one sport I hadn't attempted and I admired it so much from a distance. It's intimidating initially, especially for a young, black woman. I didn't see other women like me doing that sport and therefore I didn't think it was attainable for me.
I got brave one day and tried and the rest is history.
I love the freedom of being in the ocean. I can have the worst day ever and if you just add salt water to that day, it's a game changer. I'm more calm, patient and relaxed. It's also my main source of exercise. I truly loathe the gym and although I enjoy fitness it has to be fun. I enjoy hiking, swimming, climbing, skating, downhill skiing and really most outdoor activities.
Photo by Ryan Szot
Where are your favorite surf spots and what is your favorite board(s) to ride?
My favorite breaks are dotted all along north county from Cardiff to San O. My home breaks in Oceanside always have something to offer. I love living so close to the beach. We are so spoiled for choice in San Diego.
I honestly love my entire quiver right now and like to try different setups whenever I get the chance. Even just playing with fin placement changes a board. My favorite all around boards are my high performance longboards, a 9’0 Stewart CMP, 9’0 Takayama beach break and 9’6 Bruce Jones. These are my go-to boards when I want to have a guaranteed good session. I recently added a 7’4 Takayama scorpion and I am crushing pretty hard on that. I love my two logs for cruising on smaller days, a 9’2 Meremade Pig and 9’4 Hage Grandpa.
You create amazing art, tell us about your creations, and what inspires the art you make?
The ocean is a huge source of inspiration! I love drawing and painting waves and the people who ride them. It's my favorite thing to do besides surf. I’m not even mad when it rains, because I have so many things I want to experiment with, with my art right now.
What inspired the design for Paddle Out For Peace?
Photo by Jianca Lazarus
How can the surf & art communities support Black surfers and artists?
Photo by @heidizumbrun
Tell us about Textured Waves & how it started
Textured Waves was created to propagate the culture and sport of women's surfing towards women of color and underrepresented demographics through representation, community and sisterly camaraderie.
We are three African American surfer friends who formed this collective so young girls and women could see themselves reflected in the surf community. Something we longed for when we were growing up.
Photo by @fancybethany
What's your mission and what message do you want to give?
We value integrity, inclusion and advocating diversity in the water.
We want to encourage more women of color to embrace their natural state in the water. There is oftentimes fear and trauma associated with aquatic spaces for African American folks and we want to encourage and address those issues so we can reach out full potential as water women.
Photo by @nick_lavecchia for Seea
Did you ever face racism or sexism in the lineup?
Of course, I still get the occasional micro or macro comment from time to time, but it's not something I invite in. Some people want to dim your light thinking it will make their own shine brighter. They can't unless you let them.
Is there any association or program to encourage black people to get into surfing in your community?
There are several that we promote on our website texturedwaves.com/community
Do you feel you are also an inspiration for other women and black or brown people in the surf community?
I certainly strive to be. When you are a different hue than the majority of the people in your lineup, you stand out by default. I always try to be a good role model and am friendly to new faces in the lineup. I want surfing to feel less exclusive and more inviting to encourage the next generation to carve their own path.
Photo by @jo_savagephotography
Do you see a positive change in the surf, where women and black people are a minority?
There is certainly a shift with the current state of the world. I am hopeful that the tides have changed and more doors are opening up to us now.
Photo by @katcarney
What's your most memorable surf session?
Some of my best sessions have been in my own backyard on the tiny days, just laughing and sharing waves with friends.
Photo by Brie Lakin
Follow Danielle Black Lyons & learn more:
Also check out the new film, "Sea us now" with the Seea + Textured Waves