How Scott Jacobs Became a Household Name
I want to take us back to where it all began...
In 1981, Scott opened his flagship location of Reflections on Canvas - Art Gallery and Frame Center.
For those that aren't familiar with how he started, I'm sure you're thinking that he opened a Gallery to hang his own paintings. You'd be surprised to find out that when Scott opened this business, he had no plans to hang his own art. He always had an interest for painting, but he was merely an art gallery owner displaying famous names like Erté, Susan Rios, Mark King, Doug Webb, and Byron Galvez.
Scott and Sharon were now happily married and life was a breeze. They had each other, a beautiful home, and three successful Art Galleries in New Jersey. Life was perfect and they didn't want or need to change anything.
Sharon was only a couple months away from giving birth to their first born, Olivia (aka ME!)
On Christmas morning, Scott opened a gift from his beloved wife. It was a beautiful wooden easel, a set of acrylic paints, and canvases.
She told him, "I heard you used to paint and you need a hobby to get your mind off work".
Little did she know that this thoughtful gift would transform their lives forever...
Scott quickly began playing around with his Christmas gifts by painting in different styles. He experimented with Cubism, Expressionism, Abstract, and Photorealism before he decided to hang them in his Westfield Gallery to see what people thought. He signed each painting under a pseudonym, Escoteté so everyone would give their honest opinion of this "new artist" he started carrying.
As Escoteté's collection hung on the walls, it was clear that most people were drawn to his Photorealism which helped motivate Scott to spend more time exploring that genre.
He began accepting portrait commissions for people in the area as well as celebrities like Kathy Ireland, Malcolm Forbes, Kim Alexis, Joan Lunden, and Tico Torres of Bon Jovi just to name a few.
He began traveling to different art shows to display his new works which helped solidify photorealism as his niche.
Fast Forward to Early 1993
At this time, Scott had a few years of painting portraits under his belt. He loved what he did, his paintings were expanding in complexity and quality, but he was looking for a subject that could be marketed to more than the person commissioning the painting.
One day, Scott was on the phone with an art broker, Ron Copple, discussing his desires to venture out and find a more marketable subject matter. Ron told Scott how he'd seen Harley-Davidson become more popular so he mentioned that as an option. Scott always loved riding motorcycles, so he took Ron's advice and created his first two Harley-Davidson paintings, "Fat Boy" and "Live to Ride".
After completing these, he brought the paintings to Art Expo in New York City where he promoted them as his next limited editions. The attendees swarmed around his booth to get a closer look at the unique paintings by this unknown artist. The atmosphere quickly changed when two men in suits came into his booth and told him that he had to take them down immediately.
Scott was told that he had to be licensed to use Harley's logo in any reproductions, so Scott asked them how he could do that. They scoffed and explained the difficult and lengthy process of even being considered by the Motor Company and plus, they didn't license artwork.
He obeyed their orders and took the paintings down for the rest of the show. That didn't stop him from displaying the same pieces at the next Art Expo in Los Angeles though! (Little rebel.)
To Scott's surprise, the SAME men in suits showed up in his booth, but this time, with a third man in tow. This third person happened to be the President of HDMC, Jeff Bluestein! Jeff asked his men if this was the same artist they were talking about from NYC, they nodded.
He then turned to Scott and offered him a licensing deal right on the spot! I think he was impressed, don't you?
Becoming the First Official Harley-Davidson Artist
"It was surreal" Scott said as he remembers the feeling of getting the contract in the mail from Harley-Davidson July of 1993.
"I checked my mailbox numerous time a day until it arrived!"
Now, with the Motor Company backing him and allowing him to reproduce his acrylic creations, his artwork was able to quickly reach the masses.
Pretty soon, he was making appearances around the US, articles were regularly being written about him, and it wasn't unusual to see Scott's art or his face on the cover of magazines.
His name and talent spread like wildfire!
The excitement around Scott's Harley-Davidson paintings didn't seem to let up. He was selling out of his Limited Edition Mixed Media's within weeks after their release dates.
1994 was Scott's first full year to produce for HDMC. His next licensed painting and my personal favorite is "48 Panhead", a closeup of a sky blue 1948 Panhead (duh, Olivia, the title says so) tank and chrome headlight.
The image of "48 Panhead" later became the opening scene of a 1996 movie called, Biker Dreams. The camera started zoomed in on the barn and trees reflected in the chrome headlight making you think you were in the country. It slowly panned out to show that it was a reflection in a motorcycle, then kept zooming out to reveal it was an actual painting!
Once the viewer realized what they were looking at, the opening music played over footage of Scott's hand dipping his paintbrush into a paint canister and putting it to a canvas. It was a clever and mesmerizing way to capture Scott's talent for the world to see on the big screen.
His notoriety didn't stop there!
Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, the largest motorcycle event in the world, contacted him asking if they could use his painting as the cover of the Sturgis Magazine.
His art has graced one of their Official Rally covers every year since!
As the years have progressed, so has his talent. Articles, movie features, and interviews have not slowed even though he's become more of a household name.
The fascination people have watching him paint has only grown with the power of the internet and social media.
It's amazing to witness the changes ten years can make in my family's lives.
Scott started off being a Gallery owner and part-time artist in New Jersey and by the end of the decade, he was a full-time artist living in California with licensing agreements with Harley-Davidson, Chevrolet, and Mattel Hot Wheels.
He is an example of what challenging the status quo can create for someone. By questioning the way things were with Harley-Davidson, he was responsible for founding the Fine Art Program for one of the largest and oldest Motor Companies in the world!
I feel honored to be able to write about the genesis of one of the most famous living artists of our time and I'm even more blessed to call him Dad.
Thank you for reading! Your support and comments show that I'm writing about something you enjoy! If you'd like to know details on the start of another genre or particular painting, leave it in the comments and I'd be happy to consider it!
With respect and appreciation,
TO VIEW SCOTT'S EARLIEST WORKS, CLICK HERE.