Tyler Jacobs is “One of the dudes behind Yo Gabba Gabba! and The Aquabats! Super Show.” He’s also a talented artist, a prolific viner (find out what that means below), and a big guy who’s constantly honing his sense of style. We discuss all of this, beard care, psychedelic funk, and more below.
How would you describe what you do for a living? it looks like you’re a man of many talents.
Well I’m the Creative Director for Yo Gabba Gabba! (a show that I helped my brother and a few friends create back in 2006), which means I make a lot of creative decisions on how the brand should be handled. Most of my days are filled with designing merchandise, promotional materials, social media ads, and approving/art directing products from our many licensees. When YGG is in production, I also write, co-direct and do a lot of production design on the show. On top of THAT, I work on the side for The Aquabats! Super Show! (another show I worked with my brother Christian on creating) doing a lot of the same stuff. And then there’s always a lot of the new projects we’re working on in development… so I keep pretty busy.
It’s got to be pretty amazing to create something like that and see it become part of people’s lives.
Yeah! It’s really crazy. Occasionally I take a step back and just trip out.
Did you expect Yo Gabba Gabba to grow the way it did when you were creating it?
Yes and no. We knew we had something special. We knew that it could work if it was given the chance. (and we tested thoroughly on our own kids). We joked about things like seeing our stuff in Wal-Mart and how crazy that would be, but it’s a reality now! We definitely didn’t expect it to blow up and be such a phenomenon that it became.
When it comes to creating merchandise, how do you choose what types of products to create?
We have merchandising folks at DHX Media, our business partner, who reach out to different licensees and make those deals. Sometimes they approach us. Either way if a deal goes through, it’s my job to make sure it looks right, which is harder than it sounds! A few collaborations we hooked up ourselves, like Vans, Volcom, and Toddland. It was friends that we’ve known for a long time that worked at these great brands and it was only natural to make cool stuff with them.
I looked at your portfolio today, and it’s ridiculously awesome. Is illustration something you’ve been into all your life?
Yeah, pretty much. I grew up drawing silly pictures with my brothers. We’ve always inspired each other.
You’re a pretty prolific Viner. Vineist? …Vine user. I spent a good hour a couple days ago going back through your videos, and they’re great. What is it about that platform that really interests you?
Haha Viner! Yeah it’s incredible. It’s honestly the most social of all social networks I’ve ever been on. I’ve met so many awesome people from across the country. I’ve always really wanted to get into filmmaking and it’s just this total bite-sized simple way to make creative ideas into 6 second short films under very strict parameters. I think that encourages a lot of creativity and there’s some really incredible stuff that people have done.
The #Beneath The Beard stuff is hilarious – the first one with Bjork was perfect!
I thought… “what’s something with someone getting stuck in really tall weeds or grass?” and the “Human Behaviour” video came to mind instantly. I also wouldn’t mind having a tiny Bjork in my beard. She’d sing me to sleep at night and probably poke antennas in my eyes.
Many of our readers are facial hair enthusiasts, so I’ve got to ask about that majestic beard. How long have you been growing it?
I stopped shaving when I turned 30, which is almost 6 years ago. I kept it trimmed (about a guard 3) for most of that time. Then last year I put the question up on Instagram “should I trim or should I grow”? The demand was pretty impressive that I let it grow, and it was pretty majestic. It got me a lot of attention from beard enthusiasts. I was about planning on entering a competition in June and when the date came, I couldn’t buy tickets on the site. I even wrote an angry e-mail… Turns they never took the site down from 2012 and I was only a year late! I trimmed it a few weeks later, but it’s getting quite full again.
When it comes to an online vote, it seems like they’ll always go for the beard.
We’re definitely living in the season of the beard. Seems like they’re more popular than ever. I’m not complaining!
Do you use any kind of beard oil, pomades, or things like that?
I do! I use Layrite pomade on my ‘stache instead of mustache wax, and then I work in a little into the rest of the beard to tame it. It can get pretty out of control.
I saw that you picked up the new Pixies EP.
Yeah! They’re my favorite band of all time without a doubt. I was in 6th grade when I first got into them (again, having a cool older brother helped my indie cred). I had like 6 Pixies T-shirts in Jr. High and just rotated through them every day of the week. Kids made fun of me cuz I thought they were better than Warrant and Young MC… who’s laughing now?
What else have you been listening to lately?
Well, let’s see… I was just about to give up on music altogether until iTunes Radio just came out. I’ve been listening to their New Wave channel quite a bit. More (relatively) recent stuff I’m really into – Indie folk stuff like Dawes, Beachwood Sparks, First Aid Kit, Of Monsters and Men (I was late for that boat too), and of course Bon Iver & Fleet Foxes. There’s this band Goat from Sweden that I really got into earlier this year and they’re totally bonkers. They’re voodoo witches that wear masks and play psychedelic funk kinda stuff. It’s pretty crazy, but really cool.
Do you think of yourself as having a specific kind of style?
Well, I went through a big skinhead (the anti-racist/traditional kind) phase when I was a teenager and I’ll always love a lot of the 60’s British mod style. Now I’m more into the folky-manly vintage look that just happens to be really big right now. I kinda went through a style re-awakening earlier this year when I signed up for Pinterest (Not ashamed to be I’m an avid Pinner). I was really impressed with guys like Tony Sylvester, Ethan Desu and Greg Chapman. Then I found Chubstr and was like “Hey I can dress well too!” I’m trying to explore more tweeds, denims, sweaters, layers, etc. But of course, it all takes time. I saw a quote that really stuck with me: “If only I could illegally download clothes!”
It feels like men’s style is coming back with a vengeance, and the fact that there are guys of all these different sizes that are into it i think says something.
Totally! I think there’s a big cultural shift to bring manliness back. My friend Brett McKay runs theartofmanliness.com and the success of that site really reflects what’s going on right now. And I think bigger guys are starting to get recognized not only as existing, but even appreciated in a lot of places. I think that’s an awesome thing.
What’s next for you?
There’s CinemAttack – I’m curating and screening cult movies but making it kind of a bigger deal than “just a movie.” The last one we did was Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World. It had a laser light show, live band playing along with the movie, audience prompts and quote-along, costume contest, etc…. it was pretty rad. We got everyone to stand up and do Ninja Ninja Revolution, served Garlic Bread, the whole nine yards. But the theater wouldn’t let us throw pennies. I’ve only done two so far, but I’m working on setting up our next one.
Plus, I just did a shoot for MacBeth Footwear, which is Tom Delong from Blink 182’s company.