Scott Cox is an icon in the motorcycle industry. Starting his company from scratch, Scott worked his way up until he became infamous for his work. He consistently captured legendary photos containing great stories. His work is still recognized today and seen as an inspiration for many current photographers. Furthermore, his extended involvement and experience has made him extremely knowledgeable about the industry. We caught up with Scott to learn more about his experiences and his opinion of the current motocross scene.
How did you get started in the motorcycle industry?
“I grew up in northern San Diego county, so we rode a bunch, and my crew was mostly desert guys. My first motocross race I ever went to, I was in junior high school and by sheer coincidence I own the property that the starting line from that race was on. That is where I am talking to you from right now. We are about a mile or so from the ocean and I was an “On Any Sunday” type of kid. Everyone in the neighborhood rode dirt bikes and I was very fortunate to grow up in this spot. That really kick started my interest in motorcycles and my opportunities to meet people and even meet some of my heroes. “
What was your first job in the industry?
“I was a real artsy kid, I got into photography when I was young and loved creating and designing things. I started shooting photos of my buddies riding and I met a guy who became a promoter of some riding clubs. He had a bunch of riding events, all different kinds of styles from MX racing to off-road racing and decided to get into the race promotion side of things. I made his first ever event flyer for one of those events. That kind of started things off for me. The second thing I did was I made the original stationary package for what became “Fun Bike Center.” San Diego was great for me personally for being in the motocross industry, if we weren’t riding, we were surfing.”
Did you have any other jobs at this time or were you now kind of chasing the dream and putting your full focus into photography and design work?
“I also designed logos and other artwork / photography, but photography really sparked my interest. It was a fun thing to be a part of. My mother owned the biggest printer in San Diego, so I grew up around the presses and that caught my interests. I was around a bunch of people in that specific industry and I was able to get a job in the printing world while I was in high school and learn how things went around there. How magazines were made, and fashion catalogs were put together, I learned how to do all of that. That kick started me and stayed in that creative trade most of my career, but I also worked for general dynamics for a period of time and I worked on a cruise missile program which didn’t have anything to do with being creative. I always kept a side business going to make extra money, I had a higher paying job to pay expenses and then would do the creative stuff that I enjoyed just to stay in it.”
The motorcycle industry in general, seems difficult to land a high-paying full-time job that you can rely on to pay bills and other expenses, did you always have a side gig, or did you eventually figure it out and go all-in?
“I am from a family of workaholics; I have always been open to working. I love working and I love doing things, I like creating things. At the time, unless you worked for a magazine, a lot of the guys were part timers even the good ones and not crushing it money wise. I developed a taste for making money really early in my life. I liked being able to buy a new motorcycle or a new car and liked to live in my own place, not an animal house with 4 guys. Income part was important to me, not everything but enough to live the way I wanted too. But money was not the motivator for me as far as photography and creating goes. That is my passion and I just wanted to put out great work. I always believed the money would come if your work is good and you stick with it. I always focused on mastering the fundamentals, if you master those and the consistency of the work comes out, that is what carries to the next gig. During my career I almost never promoted or advertised, I just made sure I put out quality work. Being consistent, being creative and bringing your A-game to the party. That’s what lands gigs.”
SCOTT COX: MOTOCROSS ICON
Working other jobs at the time but also working in the industry, how did you balance making money at other jobs but also giving up time to chase your dreams in work that didn’t pay as much just yet?
“I worked for a NY ad agency for a while, but I am about the people. The motorcycle industry is small, and you get to work with the same people basically forever. I am sure you know the same people you have been seeing for years in the industry and I liked being around that. That became evident to me about the motorcycle industry, it's really small globally and people hang on to it. That’s really the main reason I love it. At this point I went all in on the motorcycle industry and started my agency working for big brands like Ducati, BMW, Husqvarna etc.”
Can you explain your agency business to those who may not know?
“We were a campaign-based business and brand builders for companies. My base DNA is in creativity, drawing, painting, photography, visual structure design. I was blessed to work on some major campaigns inside and outside the industry and I really gained a love and an appreciation for brand campaigning. I worked under a legendary brand campaigner and used this experience for my future projects. I went on to work for many major racing teams and companies.”
What are you up to now? Do you still do some riding?
“I am retired now. I just sold my KTM adventure bike, I can’t decide what bike to get, I really like the Africa twin. My favorite type of riding now is to go riding to Mexico and go fishing. My grandfather ran fishing boats, and it is a hobby of mine.”
Do you see a huge difference in motocross racing today as opposed to racing back in the day?
“I don’t. I know this is a heated debate, but I really don’t see a difference. The kids today are trying and are just as passionate as Decoster and Ricky Johnson were back in the day. It is the same thing to me, just different eras. I remember going to suspension testing with Honda back in the 80s and have witnessed the same thing today, it is different evolved products but honestly it's basically the same process. The riders today want to win just like the riders back in the day wanted to win. Putting everyone in a time machine and seeing who the better rider is is just silly in my opinion. All of these guys from any era are fierce competitors.”
Any advice for people coming up that want to work in the motocross industry?
“Make yourself available and make yourself important. Everyone assumes right off the bat that they are entitled to a certain amount of pay and only work for that number. If you really want it, ask a company if they are hiring and if they say no tell them you will work for free, that’s what I did. I needed to see someone in the industry doing it. I wanted to see the pros do what they do.”