The relationships built through action sports are special. From time to time, I’m going to introduce you to some very exceptional friends of mine. These are people that have participated in the lifestyle in a unique way, and hopefully you find inspiration in them. These are all people who feel the way I do about action sports: Doing what we do as a means of creative expression is essential. Besides being a vigorous form of exercise, action sports helps clear the mental hurdles of life. Some use it to get away from everything, while others see it as a good way to get everyone together. Life is what you make it, and the way you use your respective device for fun or therapy is up to you.
The first person I want to introduce is Shawn Connors. I met Shawn doing BMX and FMX shows in Canada, and his energy is exceptional. Besides stretching tricks beyond what his over-6-foot frame should allow, his mind always stuck out to me as unique. He lives life incredibly easy and simple while always finding himself in the most complicated of places. I have driven with him into the heart of Mexico while the transmission in his van kept popping out. I watched him build an entire motocross landing out of matchsticks and thin plywood in Turkey and then jump the ramps himself the same day. I painted him blue and called him an Avatar for an entire 24 hours on his birthday. But what is truly amazing about Shawn is how he is handling life after professional freestyle. He has used his vision to create some incredible art pieces, and I’d like to share some of them with you.
How did you get into motocross shows?
I started motocross racing in Vermont at the local races and made it into the expert class and did quite well. Through Arenacross, I qualified for the Vegas race and placed pretty well. Then my buddy Adam Cusino built a metal freestyle ramp, and he invited me to come jump it with him. It soon got to the point where I was missing really important races and would stay home and ride freestyle. Long story short, I met someone who asked me if I did tricks and I said yes. He said, “If you build a metal landing I’ll hire you to do a monster truck show.” I did the show, he didn’t pay me. But I got a phone number for someone else and was booked in Stafford Springs, Connecticut. Then it snowballed from there and I kept getting calls from USFMX and it all started.
That’s an appropriate way to start your career, getting screwed by a promoter.
It got me ready for the future.
What are your career highlights, riding-wise?
I jumped my grandmother’s house for the CMT show All Jacked Up. I won a bunch of IFMA events. But my biggest achievement was winning without flipping. To my knowledge, I am one of the last, if not the last person to do a sterilizer in competition from metal ramp to portable landing and on the brushed concrete. I was beating guys doing flips doing sterilizer on that type of setup. That was my biggest accomplishment in IFMAs.
What is it like traveling the world, including developing countries, to build ramps?
Now I’ve learned the system. After Taiwan, I now ship all of my materials and tools with me. No matter what! My first wooden landing I built, we were there for two weeks and I didn’t get an extension cord for eight days. It was me and my friend Adam, and we were stuck over there and it was hard. I mean really hard. I threatened to leave, and the next day we had the tools. The landing was jumped four times a day for a month straight, and it held up.
How many wooden landings in strange places have you built?
I built one in Taiwan, one in Dubai, and two in Turkey. Gobble Gobble.
Are you still working on monster trucks?
No, I have been asked to be back for a while, but the travel is too much. I wasn’t working on monster trucks — I was working on the quads and side-by-sides. It was a great opportunity, and I loved it, but Shawn Connors Designs has picked up and I need to be selfish and focus on me and the family.
Let’s talk about Shawn Connors Designs. What is this company all about? How did you come to furniture?
When I moved back from doing shows in China, I had an injury. I could not pursue freestyle at the time, so I got a job at a local dirtbike shop. I worked a decade just riding dirtbikes, so it was time to join the workforce again, and I got a job working on motorcycles. I started accumulating all of these parts, and I enjoyed wondering what I could make these parts into. So I said fuck it and decided I wanted to make myself a table. I was inspired by something I saw one of my friends make online, and I decided I’m going to make something. So I made my first table. It was a round side table that goes by your couch. I was pumped on it, had no intentions of selling it or making a business. I was just proud of it. I put it on social media, and it exploded. I could post 100 pics of a dead body or a flip on a dirtbike and nothing got a response like that picture. So I took the table to my local dirtbike shop and I showed it to them, and the owner ended up buying it. I thought, “This is cool.” Next, I built a fire pit out of old motorcycle parts. It went viral and was shared all over the internet. Someone stole it, sent it to Racer X, and they posted it and gave credit to some guy named Outlaw. So whoever Outlaw is can suck eggs. That’s my fire pit!
Are you selling or making lots of pieces now?
Everything is a stepping stone. Everything is happening really fast. I feel like I’m really lucky to have started at this level I’m at now, and I can only go up from here. I’m really excited to see what the future holds. The response I’m getting is crazy. I built an office desk for a Ford dealership, and that turned into more sales of the office desk. It is one of the biggest and most popular pieces. I just built a new model called the “High Roller” that is accompanied with one of the office desks, and it was sold to an art gallery in Las Vegas. It is inside an art gallery at the Venetian Hotel, in the Grand Canal shops. My mind is blown.
Has welding ramps on the side of the road in Mexico helped you in this endeavor? Now you’re selling things at art galleries in Vegas!
I don’t believe it. When I go there and see them and am in the Venetian, I’ll believe it. Until then it’s all just emails and phone calls. It’s wild.
I saw a few pieces where you incorporated wood. Is this something you will continue?
I worked with wood for a while. Right now, the only wood I’m working with is whiskey barrels, making them into tables. Oddly, my shop is small, and wood makes lots of dust, so I don’t like it. I want to focus mainly on the metal for now. And later when I have a big shop I’ll dedicate an area for wood.
How did freestyle help in all of this?
The roots of motocross helped with exposure, because I had a small 1,500-person following. But all of this came from years of watching my family’s construction company build whatever they needed from whatever they had. My family moves houses for a living, and if they need something, you can’t go to the house-moving store. You have to build it. And from watching my family create is where I got this inspiration. My imagination is crazy. I see visions and I make them happen.
Check out Shawn Connors Designs to see more of Shawn’s work. And come back next week for more from Micah!