Well, Hardy is hardly a newbie in the tattoo world. And, just as the other artists I have written about in this blog, he has had a real hand in advancing the artwork that can and is put to skin. He was born in 1945 and had the opportunity to work with Sailor Jerry (another famous artist who is deeply rooted in the history of tattooing).
Don had desired to be a tattoo artist for much of his life before he landed an apprenticeship while attending the San Francisco Art Institute. He graduated with his BFA in 1967 and opened a tattoo studio in the area. Hardy is famous for breathing “new” style into the American tattoo. He learned quite a bit about tattooing’s Asian roots while living and studying in Japan and brought this thinking and diversity of images back to his San Francisco studio where he further developed the ideas. In 1974 he began doing tattoo “commissions” which we would think of today as custom pieces. At this time, almost all artists were working expressly from flash and custom work was a completely new idea.
Hardy has worked diligently to promote the fine art aspect of tattoos. He has published books that have helped to put tattooinginto the minds of the mainstream culture and has curated exhibitions that focus on tattoo art.
According to the Wikipedia site, “In 2004 Christian Audigier licensed the rights to produce the high-end Ed Hardy clothing line, which is based on Hardy’s imagery. Prior to the Ed Hardy clothing line, Audigier was the Head Designer at Von Dutch Originals, which marketed the imagery of Kenny Howard/Von Dutch. Audigier has attempted to replicate the marketing techniques employed by Von Dutch Originals by marketing directly to celebrity clients and by opening stores in high profile fashion districts. There are currently at least fifteen Ed Hardy stores, located in Waikiki, Dubai, Kuwait, Tel Aviv, Dallas, Miami, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Tucson, Houston, New York, Tokyo, Singapore, Noosa on The Sunshine Coast, Melbourne, Sydney and other major cities around the world.”
Don Hardy currently splits his time between his studio in San Francisco and his home in Honolulu. He is officially retired from the tattooing business, but does still work on life long friends and long time clients. Hardy spends most of his days focusing on his fine art in the more traditional mediums of drawing, painting, and printmaking. His work is represented in the collections of The Honolulu Academy of Art, The Contemporary Museum, Honolulu, The San Francisco Fine Arts Museum Achenbach Collection, and the University of Colorado Fine Art Galleries.
Love, Respect, and Ride Safe,