Don Ed Hardy

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Don Ed Hardy
Don Ed Hardy and Dave Yurkew (1977).jpg
Don Ed Hardy at the second World Tattoo Convention in Reno Nevada, 1977.
BornJanuary 1945 (1945-01) (age 74)
Known forPainting, Drawing, Tattoo
MovementBody art, Postmodern art

Don Ed Hardy is an American tattoo artist raised in Southern California. Hardy is best known for his tattoo work and his eponymous apparel and accessories brand Ed Hardy.

Early life[edit]

Hardy was born in 1945 in Costa Mesa, California. He attended the San Francisco Art Institute and graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in printmaking.[1]

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.[2] He became recognized for incorporating Japanese tattoo aesthetics and technique into his American style work.[1]


In 1982, Hardy and his long time friend Ernie Carafa, formed Hardy Marks Publications. Under this marque, they began publishing the five-book series Tattootime.[3] Hardy Marks has gone on to publish more than 25 books about alternative art,[4] including catalogs of Hardy's work and that of Sailor Jerry Collins. EEE Productions (Ed Hardy, Ed Nolte, and Ernie Carafa put together the first tattoo convention on the Queen Mary as well as many other tattoo conventions and expos

In 2000, he was appointed by Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown to the city's Cultural Arts Commission.[5][6]

Today, Hardy is retired from tattooing.[7] He oversees and mentors the artists at his San Francisco studio, Tattoo City.


2008 Ed Hardy brand shoe.

In the early 2000s, Hardy licensed his brand, and it is now found on a wide variety of products. This began in the early 2000s, when Hardy hi licensed Ku USA, Inc. to produce a line of clothing based on his art.[8] Within two years, the collection had drawn the interest of Saks companies.[citation needed] Hardy and Ku USA formed Hardy Life,[citation needed] now Hardy Way LLC, which owns the Ed Hardy brand and trademarks.[9][10] The brand has subsequently been extensively licensed, at one point having 70 sublicensees,[11] selling goods as diverse as clothing, accessories, lighters, perfume, hair styling tools,[12][13] and condoms.[14]

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.[2]

The face of the brand (from 2008) was Sarah Larson.[15] The brand under Audigier was extremely popular for a time, peaking at more than $700 million in gross revenue in 2009,[11] 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.[16]

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.[9][10]

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,[17] which it increased to 85% in 2011. Hardy retains a 15% minority stake.[9]


  • Bull's Eyes & Black Eyes, Hardy Marks Publications 2003.
  • The Elephants' Graveyard, Frederick Spratt Gallery 2002.
  • Smart art press - by Don Ed Hardy, Smart Art Press 2000.
  • Tattooing the Invisible Man, Bodies of Work, Hardy Marks Publications/Smart Art Press 2000.
  • Permanent Curios, Smart Art Press 1997.
  • tattoo-time, ART FROM THE HEART, Hardy Marks Publications, Hawaii 1991.
  • tattoo-time 4, LIVE AND DEATH TATTOS, Hardy Marks Publications, Hawaii 1988.
  • tattoo-time 3, MUSIC & SEA TATTOOS, Hardy Marks Publications, Hawaii 1988.
  • tattoo-time 2, TATTOO MAGIC, Hardy Marks Publications, Hawaii 1988.
  • tattoo-time 1, NEW TRIBALISM, Hardy Marks Publications, Hawaii 1988.


  • Wong, Allison, 10 Years - The Contemporary Museum at First Hawaiian Center - Tenth Anniversary Exhibition, The Contemporary Museum, Honolulu, Hawaii, 2006, ISBN 9781888254075, p. 47

Foot notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b DeMello, Margo (2007). Encyclopedia of Body Adornment. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 145. ISBN 0-313-33695-4.
  2. ^ a b Hamlin, Jesse (September 30, 2006), "Don Ed Hardy's tattoos are high art and big business", San Francisco Chronicle, Hearst Communications, Inc., retrieved March 26, 2010
  3. ^ DeMello, Margo (2000). Bodies of Inscription: A Cultural History of the Modern Tattoo Community. Duke University Press. p. 103. ISBN 0-8223-2467-9.
  4. ^ Biography – Hardy Marks Publications and Don Ed Hardy Archive. (2012-07-14); retrieved 2012-08-08.
  5. ^ DeFao, Janine (December 30, 1999). "Jerry Brown Picks Tattooist For Art Panel". San Francisco Chronicle. San Francisco, CA: Hearst Communications, Inc. p. A1. Retrieved February 6, 2009.
  6. ^ Marc Jacobs sues Ed Hardy over embroidered ugly nylon bag,; retrieved 2012-08-08.
  7. ^ Vance, Ashlee (November 12, 2009), "Ed Hardy's Tattoo Art Is Booty for Digital Pirates", The New York Times, retrieved March 26, 2010
  8. ^ Alabi, Mo (September 4, 2013). "Ed Hardy: From art to infamy and back again". CNN.
  9. ^ a b c "Iconix buys global rights, ups stake in Ed Hardy brand".
  10. ^ a b "Ed Hardy(R) Settlement Agreement Reached Between Nervous Tattoo, Inc. and Hardy Way, LLC".
  11. ^ a b Fleming, Kirsten (June 16, 2013). "That inking feeling". New York Post.
  12. ^ "IGP Beauty, Inc. Secures Celebrity Hair Care Lines". May 13, 2010. Archived from the original on February 22, 2013.
  13. ^ "Ed Hardy". IGP Beauty website. Archived from the original on July 13, 2011.
  14. ^ Juli Weiner (May 26, 2010). "Ed Hardy, Terrible Clothing Company Popular with Terrible People, Introduces Line of Condoms". Vanity Fair.
  15. ^ Norm Clark (June 15, 2008). "Larson the face of new clothing line". Review Journal. Retrieved November 19, 2013.
  16. ^ Ben Butler (August 12, 2010). "Ed Hardy clothing goes into administration". Business Today. Retrieved November 19, 2013.
  17. ^ Bhattacharjee, Nivedita (May 5, 2009), UPDATE 1-Iconix Q1 tops market; buys 50 pct in Hardy Way, Reuters, retrieved March 26, 2010

External links[edit]