Industry Profile: Axis Media Founder Mike Basher
22 Sep, 2011
Job Title: Owner in training.
Employer: Self and AXIS Media.
Years on snow: 22.
Days on snow: Not enough.
Currently Riding: Whatever’s free.
Currently I am: Watching cartoons.
Shay: Who was your first kiss?
Mike: Joy Bernice Parrish. Next door neighbor when I was a kid. She’s moved on…
Shay: Have you ever worn a thong?
Basher: No, but my wife bought me these tight little red swim shorts a few years ago, and I can’t figure out what to do with them. Family-friendly down pipe, or the not-so-discreet side-pipe?
Shay: How many dudes have you ever shared a bed with?
Basher: Just one, and unfortunately, there’s no cool story, other than waking up to a mean Joe Sexton dutch oven one morning.
Shay: Who do you currently hate?
Mike: The older I get, the longer the list.
Shay: What’s your biggest pet peeve?
Mike: @ and #.
Shay: Annie Fast, Pat Bridges and Chris Owen. You must marry one, fuck one and kill one…go.
Mike: Uhhhhh…Bridges is pretty cuddly.
Shay: How has snowboarding changed your life?
Mike: Geographically, I’ve gotten to live in and visit some pretty awesome places–not to sound like a travel snob. I’ve met some of my best friends through snowboarding. I dig it.
Shay: How did you get your start in the industry, who or what opened up more opportunities for you?
Mike: It’s kind of a long answer, really. In college on the east coast, I had gotten into shooting motocross races through my younger brother, who was interested in working for a MX mag when he hit the real world. In school, I was more interested in shooting commercial photography, but there was a huge expense there. At that time everything was film, and if you were going to do studio work, it was with medium or large format film. Both were expensive systems, and I needed a studio. Without the funds to go down that path, I resorted to photojournalism…not the paparazzi style, but just documenting stuff. Snowboarding photographers for the most part are photojournalists, for example. So, long story short, I ended up landing a job out in California at a publishing company that had 8 magazines. I worked for two motocross titles, put 18 issues a year together, and learned what it was like to work…and shoot a ton.
From there, I met Mark Sullivan, who had just left Snowboarder Magazine to become the Marketing Director of Scott USA, who is a huge brand in moto. We ended up meeting by chance at a race in Massachusetts, and we kept in contact over what if memory serves me correctly; the next year, when he invited me to come to Portland and help put together this new snowboarding magazine. Since putting together shred mags had been a dream of mine for years, I gladly accepted. Come to find out, I was invited to help lay down the groundwork for the first issue of Snowboard Magazine.
My role at Snowboard Magazine increased from then on, where I left a year and a half ago as the Editor and Photo Editor. We did some cool stuff over the years, and made a unique product, that helped fuel the industry. It was awesome making a fresh product with my buddies.
Shay: How has your previous education or work experience helped you in your current job?
Mike: I went to school at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh for photography. It was either that, or I was going to be a motorcycle mechanic. I’ve always been technically minded, and to me, being a mechanic and a photographer are similar. I guess that doesn’t completely answer your question, but it sort of sums me up…the way I function, anyway.
Shay: Tell us about your role at AXIS Media and a description of the work you do?
Mike: So…looking to steer things in a different direction, Jeff Baker and I left Snowboard Magazine early last year. We had other aspirations and ideas that we wanted to work on, so we decided to start our own company. AXIS Media is a simple operation, but it’s sort of amoebic. We handle photography needs for a few brands, produce shoots, source out videographers for certain projects and put together a high-quality magazine for Mammoth Mountain titled “Unbound”. I guess you could say we do a bit of everything, but we don’t try to spread ourselves too thin just to make a buck. We work with high-quality clients who want to do it right.
Shay: What’s an average day like at work for you?
Mike: Depends. I’ve been home for 72 hours in the past month. Sometimes, I’m just chillin’ for a few weeks here and there. Always tinkering on something, though.
Shay: What are some memorable experiences from working in the industry?
Mike: My “industry” life has been a relatively short one. I came in as an outsider (from motocross), and had to earn my stripes. It taught me that persistence and hard work pays off. I’ve honed my photography, on a dare, basically…sort of competitively…to earn a position at a magazine I was dying to work for.
Shay: What do you think are the biggest challenges that the snowboard industry faces and what changes would you like to see for the future?
Mike: Listen; I used to live with the editor of a BMX magazine, and over the few years we lived together, BMX imploded, because of people cutting each other’s throats. One example was that dudes were calling each other out for running brakes, or not running brakes. Personally, I don’t know why you’d ride a bike without brakes, but if someone chooses to ride without brakes…fine…I don’t give a shit. Who am I to say? I guess years ago when there were a few thousand snowboarders, everyone was an “individual”. The sport was young and evolving, and there was no right or wrong. Now, with several million people snowboarding in the US, it’s gonna get judgemental. Whatever…leave me alone on the hill, unless you’re just out to have a good time. That’s what I’m there doing.
Shay: Education vs Experience…which do you think is more important?
Mike: Smarts and perseverance. You gotta be able to figure stuff out on your own, and have the will to see it through.
Shay: What advice would you give to people who want to work in the industry?
Mike: I met most of what I would call “industry decision makers” at trade shows. I’m not talking about Johnny who helps tune up a rep’s board stash…but the TM’s, marketing directors, art directors…people who are going to take an interest in working with me, and can actually pull the trigger on a project. After that, mingle on-hill. It’s a pretty small industry, and people switch jobs regularly. The guy you just met at the bar last weekend might be in-house at whatever brand next week, because he’s a good dude–that’s why you were hanging out with him in the first place.
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