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Scott Jacobs 2015

An Updated Report on Photo Realism after 23 Years

By K. Randall Ball with photos by Markus Cuff

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This is a strange one. I’ve witnessed the rise and fall of numerous businesses in the Chopper Kingdom in my 45 years of drinking Jack Daniels, riding choppers, and chasing redheads. I’ve seen the changes, felt the pain of losing brothers, and watched the Chopper world crumble again in 2008.

Now we look at a used, flashy, billet, Big Dogs with distain, as if they came from another planet. And those 330 rear tires are now replaced with 30-inch front tires. After the economic crash over 75 percent of all aftermarket motorcycle shops died. Okay, so no negative waves. We are still alive to ride another day.

For a glimmering example of the purely positive, a few motorcycle diehards flourished, and Scott Jacobs was one of them. Like a very select group in our niche of niches industry Scott and his family exploded their art business.

In motorcycle circles the mantra isn’t upscale, it’s lowdown and cool, while everyone is struggling to survive. Scott did the same in 2008 and came up smelling like a rose. I’ve blithered his story to many artistic friends, as if I was Tony Robbins giving an upbeat business seminar.

Some will pop open beers and say, “Yeah, so what.” But there is a concrete message here. Scott will admit he’s not the only or the best master motorcycle artist on the block. This story is rampant with several interesting artistic and business success scenarios. Young folks are searching for direction and inspiration. Middle-aged bros who make mistakes, or faced too many divorces, search to redirect their lives. And then there’s the terrible truth for older cats who find themselves in their ‘60s without a pot to piss in and maybe out of work.

Family plays a major part, there’s no denying it. Scott is still married to the beautiful VL queen, Sharon, who along with his entire family, including nephew, Todd work for Scott Jacobs Studio.

Scott became the first H-D licensed artist in 1993 and for 23 years, he is one of the longest running licensees for HDMC. He is now reaching customers in over 90 countries around the world and buys his originals back because he can’t paint them fast enough!

So, he stayed the course with his art, his family and his solid relationship with Harley. When the economic downturn hit, he took it upon himself to explore a new market painting still-life’s of wine bottles and flowers. This new genre lead to a relationship with wineries and ultimately to a series of wine tasting locales, like cruise ships.

He now sells at art auctions on 110 cruise ships, including Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Regent, Carnival, and Princess Cruises. It isn’t unlikely for Scott to sell 25-30 originals on each cruise ship he makes an appearance on. Not a bad gig.

His beneficial and supportive attitude includes affording customers the opportunity to enjoy his art originals, limited edition giclees, posters, tin, signs, postcards, t-shirts, and refrigerator magnets. With this mantra in mind he sells hundreds of art pieces of various sizes, shapes, mediums, and prices a month.

Scott is one of Park West Gallery’s, the largest gallery in the world, artists that travel the world every month. He is also involved in 360 auctions a week, including Barrett Jackson Car Auctions. He is represented by Park West Gallery who have 1.4 million customers. Plus Scott and his wife run a Framing Business.

The Harley-Davidson 75th Sturgis licensed painting.
The Harley-Davidson 75th Sturgis licensed painting.

While we toured his home and various facilities, we came across more than 50 originals in progress, one of them being the massive Harley-Davidson 75th Anniversary Sturgis Painting where his daughters, Olivia and Alexa posed on late model Twin Cam Dyna Glides. The demand for Scott’s work has become so great that there is a two-year waiting list for an original. He has 3.5 weeks into the Sturgis Anniversary painting and more detailing time to come.

“The majority of my pieces are motorcycle oriented,” Scott said. “I like painting vintage motorcycle art with a patina over fully restored bikes.”

Here’s another positive thinking business seminar element: Scott is constantly spreading his wings to other mediums, like watercolors, pen and ink, and copper etchings. One of his newest pen and inks was a close up of fellow Cannonball Run racer, Buzz Kanter’s ’36 Harley-Davidson VL tank. To make one-of-a-kind prints, he reprints the original at a smaller scale, then hand watercolors each one for a specific customer.

Since the motor company licenses him, he attends functions at dealerships around the country meeting his fans and teaching the staff how to sell fine motorcycle art to their customers. He also attends several annual events including Sturgis, Daytona, and Arizona Bike Week.

His new efforts at copper etchings are handled the same as the pen and ink drawings, with printed reproductions, hand water colored. It takes 1.5 hours to produce an etching before the color is even added.

“I want to learn every aspect of fine art,” Scott said.

Just about the time I thought we had seen the entire creative spectrum, Scott showed us his mask collection, something primarily for women. These Marti Gras styled mask paintings are hand-painted and airbrushed for soft skin tones. Then they are hand-embellished with gold and silver leaf, glitter, and jewels, which add a unique flash of texture; an interesting twist.

So, there you have it. A 25-year creative soul, family business model for success. Someone said recently to do more than educate, but inspire. I hope Scott’s lesson does just that.

But wait, there’s more. Scott plays drums for Gary Puckett and the Union Gap, and a couple of other groups. He’s an avid motorcyclist, active member of the Hamsters USA, and he recently became involved in the Motorcycle Cannonball Run.

Here’s Sharon Jacob’s story:

In 2010, a good friend of mine, Chris Sommer-Simmons was doing a vintage motorcycle race across the country on a 1915 Harley. I didn’t know much about it then, but thought it sounded like an incredible adventure. In 2012, my husband, Scott Jacobs decided to do the race himself, and I figured I would ride along on my new Harley.

Not only had I never ridden a foot clutch or tank shift bike before, I had never ridden any bike 4000 miles at one time. When I saw and felt the bond between the riders, I knew that I wanted to be a part of it next time. We started looking for bikes meeting the criteria for 2014, and found not one, but two 1936 H-D VLH bikes. I chose the 3-speed instead of the 4- speed, and after having it completely restored, I learned how to ride it. That was the easy part.

Day 1 - Seized my pistons! Day 2 - Replaced the pistons with over .070s in an .080 bore, and managed to finish that day! Day 3 - Seized my pistons!!! Yes, really. Thankfully, because we had the other ’36 at home, we stripped the top end, and overnighted it to the hotel. My mechanics changed everything out within 3 hours.

Unfortunately, I had lost two full days because we had to wait until Monday to ship, so although I was out of contention, I wanted to finish what I started.

I crossed the finish line after 17 days, (the last 12 days with a perfect score) and not only was it a physical accomplishment, but also an emotional and personal victory!

When Lonnie announced the 2016 Century Race, I started looking for the next machine to conquer this feat. Watch me in 2016 where I’ll be riding a 1915 Harley-Davidson F11 with my wonderful and supportive Cannonball Family. Can’t wait!!!

SO Excited!!!

Scott Jacobs Studio
Art Gallery & Framing
FB: Scott Jacobs Studio

The word giclée was adopted by Jack Duganne, a printmaker working at Nash Editions. He wanted a name for the new type of prints they were producing on the IRIS printer, a large-format, high-resolution industrial prepress proofing inkjet printer they had adapted for fine-art printing. He was specifically looking for a word that would not have the negative connotations of "inkjet" or "computer generated". It is based on the French word gicleur, which means "nozzle" (the verb form gicler means "to squirt, spurt, or spray"). 

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Reader Comments

Great article about a super family. We met Scott and Sharon during a motor cycle tour put together by Big Twin Magazine back around 1993. Been friends ever since. What he has accomplished since that time is amazing.

Bruce Siegal
norrh Myrtle beach, SC
Tuesday, July 7, 2015
Excellent article! I'm proud to be Scott's friend! He's a great artist but more than that he's a great person!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015
I admire and respect your natural, God given Talent. I respect you as the artist, your Family, your ability to create a good life for yourself and Family but, in view of what you said above here namely "That you wish to learn every thing about FINE ART."

A Print, a"Fine Art Print" or a "Hand-Pulled Print" or for that matter "A REAL" Print, can only be one thing, namely HAND MADE, that is why it is so named. An etching such as the one above the Motorcycle, although it is a Real Print could not be made in 1.5 Hrs by the greatest Genius because it is a mixed media technique, all good! A pure etching of that magnitude will take several days to complete. A reproduction will remain the same even when painted. It is a Hand Painted repro! Good! and of special value but it is not a Real Print! as in Fine Art Print.

Pen & Ink Drawings, then Reproduce and Hand Painted, is the same as above, an Original Colour applied by the artist on a reproduction. The Black & White -Pen & Ink- drawing is a better investment! The other is Prettier!

Loved your Video a while back in Germany on Print making! Great and a great subjet to teach young artists and the ethics involved in "REAL" Print making and selling.

Toronto, ON, Canada
Tuesday, July 7, 2015
Well done Keith and team, truly one of the great and inspiring stories of our industry about what the whole Jacobs family has become under Scott's leadership.

I am proud to call them friends and look forward to watching the future unfold for them all. Great Story!

Brian Klock
Mitchell, SD
Sunday, July 5, 2015
Editor Response Thanks Brian. Your family and team are also inspiring.

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