We’ve all seen motorcycles that have been made into works of art—if nothing else, we’ve seen the “chopper” shows on TV. But what about artists who portray motorcycles in their art work?
Scott Jacobs was Harley-Davidson’s first officially licensed motorcycle artist, according to his website. Jacobs is a photo-realist painter, that is, he strives to show every tiny detail in his paintings, as a photograph would. He creates paintings, prints on canvas, and posters including limited edition hand-signed prints.
Jacobs wasn’t always a painter. He bought an art gallery when he was just 19 years old and was an art dealer for 25 years. In 1989, his wife, Sharon’s Christmas gift to him was an easel and oil paints. Four years later, the folks at Harley-Davidson saw his work and signed him up. His art work has been collected by a diversity of people: from ZZ Top to Dan Aykroyd, from John Elway to Michael Jackson.
Michael Zimmer wasn’t always an artist either. He was a drummer in a jazz band. In 1977 he hung up his sticks and became a fulltime photographer. He rode his 1971 Shovelhead and photographed bikers. His works were shown widely and he became a photographer for Easyriders, and he still goes to Sturgis on assignment for the magazine. His photos are in many books, including the Willy G. Davidson’s book on Harley-Davidson’s hundredth anniversary. Zimmer has published ten coffee table books on Sturgis, choppers, and various bike builders. His original photos are exhibited in galleries and his limited edition prints are available online.
The list of artists who love to portray motorcycles is large and growing. We can only mention a few here. We can’t omit David Mann, may he rest in peace. He was called “the biker world’s artist in residence.” His paintings put long-haired bikers on precisely rendered choppers against backgrounds that were often surreal. His career took off when Big Daddy Roth bought a bunch of his paintings and sold them in the back pages of Easyriders. Mann himself answered an ad for “artists wanted” and became one of Easyriders’ premiere artists—his work was the center spread for thirty years until ill health forced him into retirement. Prints of his more famous works are available here.
You might remember the episode of American Pickers when Mike and Frank found the David Mann paintings at Mil Blair’s house. Blair was a founder of Easyriders. And American Choppers episodes showed the build of a tribute bike honoring Mann, who, sadly, passed away just before the bike was finished.
David Mann was a primary influence on the work of David Gonzales, the “Homie Artist.” Eagle Leather is proud to offer his work on canvas prints, on blankets and even on a tote bag. Click here to see the collection. We carry prints from his “Ride or Die” line and more, which you’ll find listed as DGA brand.
Let us know on Facebook about other artists who specialize in portraying motorcycles. If you’re interested, lots of your fellow motorcycle enthusiasts will also enjoy reading about them.