Don Ed Hardy
|Don Ed Hardy|
Don Ed Hardy at the second World Tattoo Convention in Reno Nevada, 1977.
|Born||January 1945 (age 70)
|Known for||Painting, Drawing, Tattoo|
|Movement||Body art, Postmodern art|
Hardy was born in 1945 in Iowa, where he lived for a year before his family moved to California. He attended the San Francisco Art Institute and graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in printmaking. Hardy was a student of Sailor Jerry Collins and, through his association, was able to study tattooing in Japan in 1973 with the Japanese classical tattoo master Horihide. He became recognized for incorporating Japanese tattoo aesthetics and technique into his American style work.
In 1982, Hardy and his wife formed Hardy Marks Publications. Under this marque, they began publishing the five-book series Tattootime. Hardy Marks has gone on to publish more than 25 books about alternative art, including catalogs of Hardy's work and that of Sailor Jerry Collins.
Today, Hardy is retired from tattooing. He oversees and mentors the artists at his San Francisco studio, Tattoo City. Since the 1960s, he has concentrated heavily on non-tattoo based art forms, especially printmaking, drawing, and painting.
In the 2000s, Hardy has licensed his brand, and it is now found on a wide variety of products. This began in the early 2000s, when Hardy licensed Ku USA, Inc. to produce a line of clothing based on his art. Within two years, the collection had drawn the interest of Saks companies. Hardy and Ku USA formed Hardy Life, now Hardy Way LLC, which own the Ed Hardy brand and trademarks. The brand has subsequently by extensively licensed, at one point having 70 sublicensees, selling goods as diverse as clothing, accessories, lighters, perfume, hair styling tools, and condoms.
The most famous licensee was Christian Audigier, previously of Von Dutch Originals, which marketed the imagery of Kenny Howard (aka Von Dutch), another noted American subculture artist. Audigier licensed the worldwide rights to the Ed Hardy brand in 2005 through his holding company, Nervous Tattoo, and attempted to replicate the marketing techniques employed by Von Dutch Originals, marketing directly to celebrity clients and by opening stores in high profile fashion districts. Ed Hardy stores were located in San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, Boston, Seattle, Minneapolis, Honolulu, Scottsdale, Tucson, Vancouver, Dubai, Johannesburg, Kuwait, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, Gurgaon, Delhi, Mumbai, and Qatar. The face of the brand (from 2008) was Sarah Larson. The brand under Audigier was extremely popular for a time, peaking at more than $700 million in gross revenue in 2009, but collapsed quickly in 2009–2010, with many stores closing. Among others, the Australian sublicensee of Ed Hardy (owned and operated by Gary Berman) entered administration and closed in 2010.
Hardy blames the collapse on creative and marketing decisions by Audigier, such as Audigier featuring his own name prominently (on one item 14 times, compared to Hardy's once), and prominent association with short-lived reality TV celebrity Jon Gosselin. Following legal battles, Hardy regained control of the brand in 2010, though as part of the settlement Nervous remained a licensee for t-shirts, hats, and hoodies.
In May 2009, Iconix Brand Group announced it had acquired a 50 percent interest in Hardy Way, LLC, the owner of the Ed Hardy brand and trademarks, which it increased to 85% in 2011. Hardy retains a 15% minority stake.
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