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Ed Hardy (tattoo historian/artist/philosopher/non-conformist)

(1 customer review)


The brand known as “Ed Hardy” has sold more than a billion units of merchandise to date and keeps expanding into emerging markets such as China. But who is the ARTIST Ed Hardy who created the approximately 1300 artworks which have migrated all over the world to take on a life of their own, replicated on millions of t-shirts, sweatshirts, sweatpants, sneakers and everything from air fresheners to cologne? How does an artist stay creative while a brand bearing his “real” name wreaks a global tsunami of a parallel existence that confuses countless onlookers?


Search & Destroy founder V. Vale met Ed Hardy at the beginnings of the International Punk Rock Cultural Revolution circa 1977. Determined to legitimize the ancient body decoration practice of tattoo as an art form and medium, Ed Hardy was pioneering a fastidious practice and penultimate philosophy of knowledgeable creativity centered on the enhancement of the human body. An autodidact who graduated from the San Francisco Art Institute, he incorporated an enormous amount of research into expanding the conceptual scope of what ink-on-skin could manifest, ultimately becoming a book publisher who continues to produce tomes documenting the hidden history of tattoo. Today, Ed Hardy has retired from tattooing, focusing on making paintings, drawings, lithographs, etchings, ceramics, collages, scrolls and work in other media.
In these uncensored interviews, Ed Hardy demonstrates the relentless curiosity, rebellion and rigor which has informed his creative career from the very beginning. He names artists, books, movements and ideas which will continue to inspire seekers of new frontiers and territories to emblazon. This book is a valuable resource aimed at those who are striving to develop all their talents.

Additional information

Weight 0.45 lbs
Dimensions 6 × 4 × .25 in

1 review for Ed Hardy (tattoo historian/artist/philosopher/non-conformist)

  1. Gloria Mary Kwan

    To most, Don Ed Hardy is known as the designer behind his eponymous apparel and accessory line Ed Hardy, a brand which, as CNN has reported Hardy himself stating, “made his name synonymous with the ‘douches’ of pop culture”. But among a decidedly more countercultural, underground crowd of renegade artists and intellectuals, Hardy is highly regarded as a seminal pioneer in the field of tattooing, one who has helped expand the medium into the realm of high-art by applying a sophisticated craftsmanship mentality. Says Ron Nagle, an American ceramic sculptor hugely influential in his own field: “When you used to see tattoos, they were mostly black and blue, with a little red. Don brought more colors, gradations and an almost airbrush quality that didn’t exist before.”

    In this next addition to RE/Search’s 4×6″ pocketbook series, Hardy talks freely with RE/Search founder Val Vale about how has he merged so-called “low” and “high” art, collaborated with an “international network of weirdos” to push his medium past the stereotypes of “the biker” and “the drunken sailor”, and the importance of maintaining a blue-collar outlook and work ethic.

    I would say the most interesting and perhaps important insights he makes in this series of one-on-one interviews are his thoughts on how to survive as a self-sufficient, even useful artist in an age where art, fundamentally (that is: economically), has no function nor value. Espousing unsentimental, yet still heartening opinions on what it means to be an artist today, he says: “You’re never going to change history or the status quo of meatheads who are making the world miserable, but you can certainly keep a thread of dissent going. That’s great, that’s important, that’s enough.”

    Steering clear of the pretentious position that artists are this rare, gifted, messiah-type bunch, whose genius just can’t be appreciated by the rest of the herd, Hardy says, in my personal favorite quotable from the book: “It’s very naive of people who beat their chests and gnash their teeth about how nobody appreciates what they’re doing–nobody’s telling you to make art or write books! Essentially, in our culture, that’s the most useless thing there is! So if you’re going to do it, you have to be set to just do it… [Because] the world doesn’t owe you a living. Just because you feel rhapsodic about what you’ve created… well, kids can play with their own shit. That’s pretty basic.”

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