The Creepy and Iconic Creations of Goosebumps Original Artist Tim Jacobus
"As an illustrator, it's my job to bring the writer's words into a visual image."
Saturated colors, exaggerated images with warped perspectives. The original style of artwork created by Tim Jacobus is so recognizable to generations that stayed up way past their bedtimes reading the Goosebumps stories of the nineties. Years later, Tim is still creating eye-catching images like the ones we all know and love from our youth and despite what his Instagram bio says - it doesn’t seem like he is slowing down any time soon. We had the opportunity to chat with Tim about his art, the key to his success, and what it’s like to be a part of such an influential piece of American culture.
Denville, NJ. Greatest town to grow up in.
First thing you do in the morning?
I get up at 4:00am. Besides bodily functions, I jump on the treadmill for an hour. Then a cup of coffee.
Tough one… if I have to choose: Close to the Edge by Yes.
If you could be any dessert, what would you be?
Ha ha! I’m not big on sweets, but I could be a big bag of chips!
Who is your favorite artist?
Roger Dean. Famous album cover artist from the 1970’s. Still a major force today.
How did you first discover your talent for illustration?
I drew for fun my entire life. I never thought of drawing or art as a career until I was 18 years old. I took a secondary class in high school where I had my first exposure to commercial art. I just wanted to be involved in any way. That’s where I learned that illustration was something you could do for a living.
How would you define your style of art and how has it evolved over the years?
The style I used for Goosebumps is what I’m known best for. Saturated colors, exaggerated images with warped perspectives. Early on, my color pallet and images were a little less wild!
How did the opportunity to create the Goosebumps covers come about?
I had worked with Scholastic for a number of years doing book covers and had proved myself to be responsible… and consistent. When Goosebumps came along, the folks at Scholastic thought I would be a good fit - even though I hadn’t done any horror work prior. I’m glad they did.
Do you have a favorite cover or one you are particularly proud of?
I like quite a few. A Day in Horrorland, Egg Monsters From Mars and Curse of Camp Cold Lake are in my top 5.
What was it like to work on such an influential piece of American culture?
It is very cool to have been part of the team in a series that so many people remember so fondly. It was something that was never anticipated.
Is that an experience you look back on fondly, or has it felt confining to be recognized so much for one series of work you’ve done?
Total joy. It could just as easily have been that I NOT to be remembered or have no one know my work. There is no downside to being part of the Goosebumps series.
In what ways do you feel the relationship between author and illustrator are important?
Authors and illustrators don’t work as closely as you would think. As an illustrator, it's my job to bring the writer's words into a visual image. I’m strictly a conduit.
How have you had to adapt your career as the world of publishing has turned more digital?
In the early 2000’s, all of us illustrators had to make the shift from traditional to digital. It was not an easy transition. In the long run, it was a great exercise and opened up a new avenue to creating illustration.
What would your dream collaboration be?
I’ve had my dream collaboration - nothing better than working with R.L. Stine.
What have you been currently working on?
There is always a new illustration on the desk. It’s not fair to reveal what the project is prior to the client announcing the project.
Why and how have you been successful?
I’m a little bit of a workaholic…
What motivates you?
I’m only happy when I’m creating, making or building something.
Tell me about your most successful or most difficult sale.
I was at a con. I sell signed prints. After I signed a print, the guy asked if he could buy the sharpie I used… total success!
Describe your research process.
It used to be an effort to do research. I had to drive to the county library and rummage through books. It was really a favorite task. The odd books you would “stumble” onto were the highlight of the day. Now, we just Google. Everything is right there at your fingertips. Google is more efficient. The library was way cooler.
What specific sales activities do you believe will help you get momentum in your new territory?
Social media gets eyeballs on my work so fast. And the use of an online store make my art just one click away. Who would have thought that when we did our first Goosebumps cover in 1992!