Ed Hardy

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Ed Hardy
Birth Date 1945
Birth Place Southern California
Death Date living
Occupation tattoo artist
Website www.tattoocitysf.com

Ed Hardy, also known as Don Ed Hardy, is one of the most well-respected tattoo artists in the world.


Born in 1945 in Southern California, his destiny seemed clear when, at the age of 10, he opened a makeshift tattoo shop in mother's house where he drew tattoos on the neighborhood kids. In the 1960s, Hardy attended the San Francisco Arts Institute and received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in printmaking. He then declined a scholarship to Yale's MFA program in order to pursue tattooing full-time in 1967.

A good friend of Sailor Jerry Collins, Hardy became the first Western tattoo artist to be invited to Japan, to study with the master Horihide, in 1973. When he returned, he opened Realistic Tattoo Studio in San Francisco, the first known private, appointment-only tattoo studio in the US, where he focused on large-scale, custom Japanese style tattoos. This style of shop, and the artistic style that Hardy imported to the US from his frequent travels in Japan, changed the face of modern tattooing.

By 1977, demand for his work was so high that he opened a second shop, welcome to walk-in clients as well, called Tattoo City. Destroyed by a fire in 1978, Tattoo City was reopened in 1991 at a different location. Though it moved again in 1999, Tattoo City still operates to this day.

Hardy has authored over 12 books, most notably the Tattoo Time series, the first tattoo industry trade magazine. Also a prolific painter, his work has appeared internationally in over 40 exhibits. In 2000, Hardy completed a 500-foot long scroll painting of 2000 dragons in honor of the millennium and the Chinese year of the Dragon.

Most recently, Hardy collaborated with the brainchild of Von Dutch clothing, Christian Audigier, by lending his name to a tattoo-inspired clothing line. Celebrities from Madonna to Tommy Hilfiger and Mariah Carey have been seen sporting Ed Hardy fashions. Hardy has been under heavy criticism since the clothing line's launch. Many people in the tattoo industry believe that Hardy, in embarking on this venture, traded in ethics for money. Regardless, the importance of his contributions to the world of tattooing cannot be overlooked.

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