Interview With Goosebumps Illustrator Tim Jacobus

Most people remember the iconic Goosebump covers from the late 1990’s and the early 2000’s. The art style jumped out at you and helped draw in readers to the iconic horror novels aimed at kids. Illustrator Tim Jacobus was the one responsible for all those stunning book covers.

He was chosen alongside Jim Thiesen to illustrate the book cover for the first two novel in the series and Jacobus was chosen as the illustrator for the series. One decision has had a big impact on the novel and millions of readers as a result.

I had the privilege of interviewing Tim Jacobus and you can read the Q & A below!

Tim Jacobus Interview

Welcome to Dead House Illustrated by Tim Jacobus
Welcome to Dead House Illustrated by Tim Jacobus

How did you become the illustrator for the Goosebumps series?

I had worked with Scholastic for a couple years. I had proven myself to be responsible for getting my assignments done on time and being consistent in my work.  When Goosebumps came along, the Scholastic folks thought I would be a good fit. I’m glad they did!

When working on the Goosebumps covers, did you have an idea of how popular the series would be?

No, I don’t think anyone knew that goosebumps would be as popular as it was. Mostly, everybody thought that it would be too scary for kids 7 to 11 years old – but you guys proved everyone wrong!

Is it true that sometimes you would only get the book blurb to draw a cover for the book?

Yes, this is true. RL Stine was writing the book at the same time I was doing the covers. So I didn’t have a complete story that I could read. He would send me over a short synopsis or just a couple of sentences describing what the book was about. That was all I needed.

I read somewhere that each cover would take about 30 hours of work. What would that entail?

First came the preliminary sketches – then final sketches – followed by a small color comp (A mini painting with very little detail) and then the final 20” x 20” acrylic painting.

How did you decide what color theme worked best for a certain book?

I wasn’t specific about what colors would work on a certain book. I wanted to be sure each book had a unique color palette. The colors I chose were just to be sure that I wasn’t repeating any of the previous color combinations.

The converse shoes show up often in your book covers. How did that come about?

The converse sneakers show up because they were the sneakers we all wore when we were kids. There was a time where my mother said, “Someday you’re going to have to get a real job and wear real shoes, instead of those stinking sneakers.”  Well, that never happened! I did it just to bug my Mom…

Is it true that a commercial art class you took made you pursue a career as an illustrator?

Yes, that’s absolutely true. I had taken fine art based classes throughout my years in middle school and high school – but it wasn’t until I went to the vocational school where they taught commercial art that it dawned on me that art could be a real career. Dedicating myself to being an illustrator came a little bit later. I just knew I needed to get into art as a business.

What are you currently working on?

I just finished a piece for RL Stine and Boom Comics. It’s called The Stuff of Nightmares. It’s a variant cover for this graphic novel for older kids. It will be on the shelves in September or October.

Conclusion

Jacobus has become synonymous with the Goosebumps series and the book covers are part of the story before you even open the novel. Thanks to Jacobus’ illustrations, we were given book covers we could not walk past at the bookstore.

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