SAN FRANCISCO, CA.- Ed Hardy knew he was an artist from early childhood. At age ten, he became fascinated with tattooing, and made that his career goal. After his early teenage years spent surfing in California, he focused on his art. He began exhibiting his work and graduated with a degree from the San Francisco Art Institute. In 1966, after passing up a graduate fellowship from Yale, he began laying the ground work for his career in tattooing, determined to develop the potential of what was, at the time, a waning, marginalized folk art. Little did he realize that his immersion in the world of body art would lead him to being considered one of the greatest tattoo artists of all time and a man whose brand, the Ed Hardy brand, has over 1 billion retail licenses worldwide in 50 different categories generating more than $750 million dollars in retail sales annually. His fascinating story -- and the amazing characters he interacted with along with way -- are vividly told in his memoir, written with Joel Selvin, WEAR YOUR DREAMS: My Life in Tattoos.
In 1969, Hardy began corresponding with the legendary tattoo artist Sailor Jerry Collins. They struck up a friendship through their letters and Collins became a mentor to the young Hardy. By 1983, Hardy moved to Japan to work with a traditional tattoo master -- the first non-Asian to do so. His time, and learning experiences in Japan, changed his life. When he returned to the United States, he transformed tattooing into an expressive medium. It didnt take long for Hardys work to gain worldwide attention.
His renown grew while Hardy was expanding an art form at that time that was still illegal in many states in the U.S. He went to New York City to work with underground tattooists. In 1977, the International Tattoo Convention in Reno, Nevada opened the art to the public and acceptability of tattooing became pervasive. He opened his now legendary studio, Tattoo City, in San Francisco.
Hardys work was a global sensation, so much so that, in 1985, he was asked to co-curate a giant tattoo exhibit in Rome, Italy. Around that time Hardy and his wife, Francesca, moved to Honolulu and started Hardy Marks Publishing. In time his art work, as with his tattoos, caught the attention of fashion designers. In 2004, he licensed his vintage tattoo designs for the brand Ed Hardy. They became an international phenomenon, imitated as a fashion look by many renowned designers.
Although Hardy still maintains the studio Tattoo City in San Francisco, he inked his last tattoo in 2008. His paintings, drawings, prints, and works in other media have been featured in solo and group exhibitions in galleries and public spaces. But its his lasting mark as a tattooist, and his unique style, that continues to influence the art world.
Vividly packaged with original Ed Hardy artwork and ideal for ink devotees and Ed Hardy aficionados alike, WEAR YOUR DREAMS is a never-before-seen look at the tattoo artist who rocked the art world and left a permanent mark on fashion history.