Revolutionary art: Harley-Davidson’s first licensed artist
RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) - When you think of motorcycles, you rarely think of art; instead, thoughts of motors, oil, and probably the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally come to mind. This year, the art piece that made a prominent Black Hills artist the first officially licensed Harley-Davidson artist is on the cover of Sturgis magazine.
The painting called “Live to Ride” has made it to the 2023–2024 front cover of Sturgis magazine, solidifying the legacy that prominent artist Scott Jacobs has worked hard to achieve.
“The first piece of art that was ever licensed by Harley in their 120-year history, this painting started the fine art program for Harley-Davidson,” said “Live to Ride” artist Scott Jacobs.
This piece is one of the many reasons that have earned Jacobs a place in the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum Hall of Fame.
“To be able to have legendary people like Scott Jacobs, Willie G. Davidson, and Arlen Ness enshrined in our museum and in our Hall of Fame, this really helps to drive home the point that this is really a very important part of the motorcycle world,” said Sturgis Motorcycle Museum executive director Leah Whaley.
The significance of the artwork is that it marks the first time Harley-Davidson has ever licensed an artist, kicking off the start of the motorcycle company’s art program. By naming Scott Jacobs a trailblazer for the craft, and after more than 30 years, his motivation and his work for one of the biggest motorcycle companies haven’t stopped.
“After all these years of painting, I am still inspired, and I paint way more than I probably should. I am going to be 65 in October, and I feel that I need to enjoy more of my life and the fruits of my labor because I just built a new house and I am hardly ever there,” explained Jacobs.
Just like his passion for both art and his love for motorcycling, the experience he goes through when creating the art is what keeps him going.
“The journey that an artist takes with a blank piece of canvas is something that I don’t think anybody else experiences except for artists. You think about it: we come up with an idea in our heads, maybe we sketch it out on paper, then I go and get a photo reference of it, and you see this white canvas turn into that. It’s a pretty incredible journey,” said Jacobs.
Adding to the experience of that journey are the people and emotions that get to be part of the artwork.
“You do something that has a person in it, and then you do their face, and that person is watching you finish the painting. I mean, it’s pretty cool,” expressed Jacobs. “This is what gets me up in the morning. It gets me up in the morning. It gets me inspired to see what I can do.”
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