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Channel Mastery


Dec 12, 2019

Algorithms have their place, but for specialty/artisan brands, emotive storytelling and a human over algorithm approach will continue to win the day. My guests today in this episode personify this. You’re about to meet the artist and team behind Open Road Ski Company and Man Behind the Maps. Note: This episode is co-produced by our friends at Snowsports Industries of America (SIA).

James Niehues is The Man Behind the Maps. He’s literally defined on-snow resorts through his illustrated maps and is the point of terrain reference for countless skiers and riders. I challenge you to find a single skier or rider who isn’t familiar with his artwork. 

When Todd Bennett and Ben Farrow, co-founders of the Open Road Ski Company, realized that there wasn’t an anthology printed of James’ incredible artwork, they set about creating a vision and opportunity for Niehues. In this podcast, you’ll hear first-hand how the book “Man Behind the Maps” came to be. 

The story of Niehaus and his collection of on-snow resort maps is nothing short of incredible, and you will get to hear it first hand from James, as well as Todd and Ben, in this episode.

Niehaus is a very humble man, and Bennett and Farrow worked hard to bring a genuine, absolutely top-tier book to market featuring the genius of Niehaus. In this show, James shares his process behind his artwork. He discusses his trips around the world and how he got connected with Todd and Ben to bring his ski maps into one collection.

Long-time fans of Jim’s, Todd and Ben approached him with little publishing knowledge but with a passion to turn Jim’s life work into a timeless, museum quality piece of art in the form of a beautifully curated coffee table book. By launching a Kickstarter campaign, the enthusiasm from the skiing community turned what Ben and Todd thought may be a flop of a launch into the #1 Funded Art Illustration Project in Kickstarter history. 

It has been through their storytelling and their shared passion for skiing that Man Behind the Maps is in the marketplace now and soon to be in all homes where skiing is enjoyed. 

Jim Niehues is the artist known as The Man Behind the Maps. Over the past 30 years, Jim has been painting ski maps for over 200 resorts around the world.

Todd Bennett and Ben Farrow co-founded Open Road Ski Company after realizing the ski resort maps they knew and loved were created by the same artist. In 2017, they reached out to Jim and started the process of bringing the book, Man Behind the Maps, to life.