How Scott Jacobs Became a Household Name

I want to take us back to where it all began...

Westfield, NJ

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.

Reflections on Canvas Art Gallery in Westfield, NJ

December 1989

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...

Experimentation

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.

Cubism by Escoteté

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?

Scott Jacobs and Willie G. Davidson
Scott and Willie G. Davidson

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

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.

He brought the original as well as several others like "Look, But Don't Touch", and "Pumping Iron" (another favorite) to his first booth at Daytona Bike Week.  All three of these originals sold from the booth the first day of being set up!

LeeAnn, Ron, and Sharon at Scott's first Daytona Bike Week booth.

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.

1995

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!

Scott with the '95 Sturgis painting which now resides in Switzerland.

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.

Looking Back

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.

Scott Jacobs with Live to Ride Harley-Davidson painting
Scott with "Live to Ride" original; the painting that started it all.

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,

Olivia

 

TO VIEW SCOTT'S EARLIEST WORKS, CLICK HERE.

Use code lovethe90s for 20% off available Early Works!

25 thoughts on “The Start of Scott’s Career

  1. Kirby Montgomery says:

    Great story telling Olivia! I loved it! Interesting history! One pic with 2 Harleys and family looks like a ’67 Ford Galaxy 500 convertible, and a ’62 Chevrolet Impala convertible, right?

    Best wishes to your family!

    • Olivia Jacobs says:

      Thanks Kirby! It sure is! We still have the Galaxie but sold the Impala because it didn’t have seatbelts and we were little, so Scott wanted us safe.

  2. Randy Uken says:

    Thanks for the awesome story humble beginnings to an explosive career!!
    take care of each other …

  3. Wendy Woodckck says:

    Wonderful article. Scott and Sharon’s determination, hard work and perseverance paid off. Looking forward to the next installment.

  4. Morris says:

    Great article, Olivia. It might be cool to put the cubist painting and some other early works in the upcoming book.

  5. Melody Smith says:

    Ya’ll are truly an amazing family….I have met Scott at the Harley dealer shows and his talent (and yours) amazes the world of so much beauty and realistic paintings…..love this awesome story!!!!

    • Olivia Jacobs says:

      Thank you, Melody! I think my family is pretty great too. 🙂

      I appreciate you reading it and enjoying it!

  6. Ryan Gutknecht says:

    Your whole family is incredible! Great job documenting your parents journey.
    Tell your dad to paint horses 😁😁😁😁🥰

  7. Roxanne Lewis says:

    History is a wonderful thing. More people need to document their families lives, we could all learn so much. Thanks for telling us the story and allowing us to see a part of your beautiful family!

  8. Oliver Shokouh says:

    What a wonderful career and the story. Not many artists make it to this level, even if they may be deserving of recognition. Great to know that Scott has made it and I love his Harley-Davidson iconic images and style. Enjoyed reading about his attractive family and the history of Scott’s amazing art career. I look forward to visiting his current studio and gallery at beautiful Downtown Deadwood, South Dakota. See you there this August during the Bog Rally. Cheers – Oliver Shokouh, Glendale, CA

  9. Ernie says:

    I had the honor to meet Scott one time and he was the most down to earth great guy !! To be able to read about his life in the only way a son can is fantastic !!! Thank you so much !!!

    • Olivia Jacobs says:

      Hi Ernie, I’m so happy you had a great time getting to know Scott a little better. We hope you’re able to visit Deadwood someday to meet him again!

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