The Scott Jacobs Studio art gallery opened in San Elijo Hills on February 5, exactly 36 years to the day after Jacobs opened his first gallery in New Jersey at age 19. The gallery houses over 100 paintings of Harley-Davidsons, wines and spirits, florals, and more, as well as clothing and even a collection of Harley-Davidson motorcycles.
Jacobs’ art is famous all over the globe owing to the fact he is the first painter licensed by Harley-Davidson. His images are used in the most famous motorcycle events in the world, such as Sturgis, as well as in the La Jolla Concours d’Elegance, and hang in the homes of celebrities and art collectors. But getting the job as the motorcycle giant’s brushman came almost as a fluke.
“I had painted a firetruck for a national contest called My Town,” explains Jacobs, “and I won. A publisher in LA saw it and suggested that I try motorcycles. So I did two paintings for an art expo in New York. A rep from Harley was there and told me I couldn’t paint their bikes because they didn’t license their artwork. So I said, I love painting these motorcycles, can’t we make a deal?”
The amazing detail in Jacobs’ photorealistic images is hard to ignore, and Harley quickly agreed to bring him on board. So good is his ability to recreate chrome that it has earned him the nickname “The King of Chrome.”
“Everyone wants to know how I do chrome,” he says. “It’s just a distorted mirror. You’re tricking the eye. If a cycle is on green grass, the chrome is green. If it has sky, the chrome is blue.”
Jacobs humbly downplays his abilities, saying, “I still have more to learn, I’ll never paint the perfect painting in my lifetime.” Thankfully, he has plenty of help. Both of his daughters Alexa and Olivia, and his nephew Todd, don’t just help with the gallery, they help with the painting.
“They’re underpainters,” he explains. “If there’s a bright blue background with clouds, they’ll block in blue for sky. If it’s a black motorcycle, they paint all the black. Then I go over it with detail.”
Family is important to Jacobs. His wife Sharon will join him this summer in the Motorcycle Cannonball Endurance Run, which runs from Daytona Beach, Florida to Tacoma, Washington using only back roads, and allows for only motorcycles built through 1936. While Jacobs rides his 1926 Harley, his wife Sharon will ride her 1936. “It’s tough,” he laughs. “It’s 320 miles a day, and if you break down, you have to fix everything yourself with what you can fit on the motorcycle. These bikes weren’t meant to go that far. When they’re all on the road it’s a rolling museum.”
The winner gets bragging rights, of which Jacobs has no shortage — an accomplished drummer, Jacobs has sat in with bands such as Iron Maiden and ZZ Top and will be performing with Gary Puckett at the San Diego County Fair on July 3. If you don’t catch him there, head to one of his upcoming meet and greets at San Diego’s local Harley-Davidson stores, where you can pick up something from his new clothing line, Scott Jacobs Art to Wear. Check the gallery site for dates and times. (www.scottjacobsstudio.com) RYAN THOMAS