Scott Jacobs may be most well known for his incredible photorealistic paintings of Harley-Davidsons, but his passion for vehicles actually began with four-wheels.
After painting numerous portraits throughout his career, Jacobs needed a change of pace and a subject matter that would resonate with people, so he decided to combine his art with his love of cars. Jacobs started painting cars around 1987.
He tested his mettle by entering a nationwide contest called “My Town.” Jacobs painted a yellow fire truck leaving the station in his hometown and won first place with the artwork.
“A lot of people were like ‘oh wow, I didn’t know you could paint like that,’” he says. “That got me a lot of notoriety in that style of work, so that’s why I pursued it further and I’ve been painting cars ever since.”
Jacobs’ detailed paintings caught the attention of Harley-Davidson, and he became the first officially licensed artist for the motorcycle giant. Not long after that, Jacobs became an officially licensed artist for the Corvette division of Chevrolet in 1997. Jacobs even painted for Mattel’s Hot Wheels in the ‘90s, working with NASCAR driver Kyle Petty.
As much as Jacobs enjoys painting the new Corvettes and motorcycles, to him, there is nothing like painting the classics. He points to vehicles like a 1930 Bently Speed 6 with its “gorgeous steel grill” and 100-spoke wheels as a vehicle he enjoys painting. He says painting such a detailed car can take 300 to 500 hours.
“That is more challenging for me,” he says. “That is what I look for in every painting I do, I look for something to challenge me, because if it’s not challenging it’s just going through the steps to get it finished.”
For Jacobs, the perfect outlet for challenging himself while enjoying classic cars came in the form of the La Jolla Concours d’Elegance in San Diego, California. Jacobs has served as the event’s official artist for the past six years, creating the cover art featured on posters, tickets, placards, banners and more. He has painted everything from Rolls-Royces and Mercedes to Talbots and Delahayes.
“It’s a big honor for me to do that every year,” he says. “I get to paint all these different famous cars for that event, which is pretty nice, and a little different from painting Corvettes over and over again.”
Aside from his love of painting highly-detailed vehicles, Jacobs is a car and motorcycle enthusiast. He owns multiple motorcycles, including a 1926 Harley, along with cars like a 1962 Shelby Cobra. However, one of his favorites is his 1967 Ford Galaxie XL convertible.
“That’s been one of the best cars I’ve ever had in my life,” he says. “That has gotten more compliments than anything I have ever owned…the lines are great, the colors are beautiful with a midnight blue and it’s got a white interior.”
Jacobs paints a wide range of subjects, including his detailed flora paintings and fine bottles of wine, but while these may come and go, he says he will always come back to motorcycles and cars.
“The cars and the motorcycles have really been the backbone of my art career for years now,” he says.