We got to chat to Ian Sansom of Black Heart Ltd, the founder and man behind our new favourite snowboarding magazine The Reason. Probably one of the hardest working people we know, Ian has been involved some of our favourite magazines over the past 20 years; from founding Document Skate (RIP) with Percy Dean, his first industry job at Snowboard UK (RIP), to working at pretty much every other UK snowboarding mag around. Not only this, Ian is also responsible for organising the funnest week of the year for any shred dog, The Boardtest, when industry insiders get together to test out next year’s product. We like to call it a “working holiday”. I digress… I forgot to mentioned that he’s also part of Deathtrap Ltd that also founded and publishes freestyle bike mag ‘Fixed’ every quarter. Blimey. Lets see where he fits it all in.
With your background in short circuits and engineering how did you fall into the murky waters of magazines, photography and bikes.
I’ve always ridden bikes. Since I was a wee lad in the ’70′s, before the days of computers, mobile phones and all that jazz, a bike was a way for a country kid to have freedom. Go out after breakfast, ride all day and come home when you’re hungry. Having a Dad who used to road race in Europe in the ’50′s was always going to veer me towards two wheels, anyway. I left school at 16 and did an engineering apprenticeship, mostly because I like to make things work. I started snowboard at the end of the 80s on a ski trip and it took over my life. I realised pretty quickly that I wasn’t good enough to be a pro, so looked for other ways to get involved. I started working one day a week for Snowboard UK, for £35 a day. That soon became two, then three, and before long I was doing it full time.
Photography was a natural extension of working for mags. I thought ‘how hard can it be?’ and the answer was ‘harder than you think , you tit’, but I kept trying and eventually went from being really shit to merely incompetent. It’s an expensive business, for sure. I’m a definite believer of the DIY/Punk Rock work ethic. If you want to do something, just fucking do it. Sometimes it will go wrong, other times it will work out, but you never know until you try. I have no time for people who say ‘I wish I could…’ You can. Nothing worth having comes easy.
Thing is, this isn’t your full time job is it?
Nope. I’m in the London Fire Brigade. I’m a Control Officer, we back up the Firefighters, take emergency calls, coordinate the response and help to ensure they have everything they need to save people’s lives. Not as cool as kicking down doors of burning buildings, but an important part of the process. I love it. I work shifts, so I have plenty of time to do other things as well.
Your fingers are in a lot of pies, do they get sticky sometimes?
They used to. I couldn’t say no to anything, as I thought I’d be missing out on something fun, or worthwhile. I’ve learned now though that it’s vital to do the absolute best job you can on whatever you do – it’s kind of like a signature. If you do too much, everything gets watered down. It’s still hard to say no, sometimes.
What inspired you to start your own snowboarding magazine, its got a very different feel from all the others out there…
Working for other people for ten plus years, banging my head off a wall. I got sick of having to do things a certain way. The only way that was ever going to change was to write my own rulebook, and doing my own thing was the only way I’d ever be able to do that.
Where did the name The Reason come from ?
The Reason was conceived three or four years ago, and photographer Nathan Gallagher (www.nathangallagher.com) played an important part in getting it started. We realised that we didn’t start snowboarding to be cool, we did it because it was a shit load of fun. Somewhere along the road, snow mags lost their way, got too worried about profit and some people forgot The Reason they were doing it in the first place. When we realised that, the name was easy…
Honestly? No. If you look at the number of big name international pros, very few are from the UK. It stands to reason that if you grow up in the mountains, then you’re going to have them in your blood. What we do have in the UK is the drive to go snowboarding despite the limitations that geography presents us with. I also like the British approach to things, to try it out and learn from your mistakes. Lets not forget that the idea of winter holidays was a British one – until our pissed up Victorian ancestors rolled into mountain villages in the search for fun, they were inhabited in the winter by mongos and weirdos. And what did we do when there’s no snow? We invented dryslope. It’s insane, when you think about it. The British scene is amazing, though. It’s one of the most vibrant, friendly and fun in the world. I wouldn’t want to be a part of anything else.
Fixed is a free, high quality mag that is available around the world and its going super well. I just wish there were more hours in the day, sometimes.
Not at all, we just make a magazine about something that we love. What gets on my tits most about fixed gear kids is that there’s a huge amount of disrespect for couriers. If it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t even be riding track bikes on the street in the first place. As far as fashion goes, dickheads will be dickheads… At least it means that there will be a ton of killer bikes available for sod all when those stupid fucking two-wheeled skateboards become all the rage…
Thanks. I’m pretty stoked to be doing them. I’ve always liked working on things and I love to get involved with projects. This was a way to take someone’s idea and make it a reality. There are six more bikes to come, from the likes of Size?, Trainerspotter, Sneakersnstuff and Jon Burgerman. Two bikes a month between now and Christmas.
Impossible to answer. There’s nothing to beat the feeling of riding a bike in traffic in the city, getting around and seeing things. Same thing goes for snowboarding.
Is print dead?
Definitely not. What IS dead, is shit, consumer magazines. An interesting phenomenom that has risen off the back of the so-called ‘death’ of print, is a rise in the number of incredible, small-run, high production-value publications being put out by small time publishers who REALLY care about what they’re doing. Check out The Ride Journal (theridejournal.com), Frequency snowboard magazine (frqncy.com) and Rouleur (rouleur.cc). Mainstream mags can’t compete with quality like that.
Except for my wife? Can I have two? Hannah Teter and Laura Hadar, please
Brit rider Aimee Fuller, a superstar in the making
Bike: Irish Johnny, Butters, Sharratt.
Snow: Nathan Gallagher, TIm Warwood, Helen Sansom. Paddy Graham and Bungle (skiers) are super fun as well.
Draplin.com – unbelievable raw talent, the passion to tell it like it is and the drive to be the best he can be. We can learn a lot from Aaron Draplin.
Track bike for the city, BMX for fun
The latest issue of The Reason (2:1) is out in the next two weeks, with 2:3, 2:4 and 2:5 released once a month until December. The magazine is free and available at all snowboarding shops that know their worth! Twitter here