Despite criticism of the clothing named for him, the tattoo icon won’t let anything get under his skin.
By Chrisopher Muther
Boston Globe Staff / September 30, 2010
There’s a Facebook page devoted to those who dislike the flashy, tattoo-influenced shirts, hats, purses, shoes, computer cases, and even condoms. On the website StuffWhitePeopleLike.com, number 124 is “Hating People Who Wear Ed Hardy.’’ The fact that the clothing is favored among John Gosselin, Lindsay Lohan, and the cast of “Jersey Shore,’’ makes throwing moldy tomato barbs at the clothing line even easier.
And yet, I like Ed Hardy. I’m not talking about the clothing. I’m talking about the man. And you should know there is a very big difference between Hardy the man and Ed Hardy clothing.
Ed Hardy, who will speak at the Museum of Fine Arts next Wednesday night, is a respected tattoo artist. A trained professional who helped change the direction of skin art, he started dreaming of a career as a tattoo artist as a small boy in the 1950s. As a boy, he even offered fake tattoos to kids in his neighborhood for a nickel a pop. Ed Hardy, the clothing line, is run by Christian Audigier, a French expat who was responsible for the Von Dutch trucker hat craze. Any animosity you feel about the clothing should be directed toward Audigier, who licenses designs from Hardy, and places them on apparel, hand sanitizer, and a whole lot of other things.
“I haven’t even watched ‘Jersey Shore,’ ’’ the 65-year-old Hardy says on the phone from San Francisco. “But they tell me that all the kids are wearing it. From my perspective, if it’s out there, and people are enjoying it, and it brings people some happiness, then that’s OK. It’s like William Burroughs used to say, ‘Who am I to be critical?’ ’’
That’s the type of low-key personality Hardy is — no matter how many celebrities wear a T-shirt with his name on it. When Audigier first licensed Hardy’s name and about 1,200 of his designs, he promised the tattoo artist he would make him a star. Hardy was nonplussed.
“He gave me the big push, telling me that he’d fly me around and have me signing autographs everywhere,’’ he recalls. “I said to him, ‘Why don’t you just leave me alone and pay me?’ I think he was astounded by that. So he made himself the public face of Ed Hardy.’’
T-shirts aside, Ed Hardy grew up Don Ed Hardy (Ed is his “needle name’’) in Southern California. He can’t exactly say why he was drawn to tattoos, but he was sketching at a young age and knew that he wanted to practice that art on skin. After graduating from the San Francisco Art Institute with a degree in etching and engraving, he opened a tattoo shop. This was at a time long before tattoos were found on every celebrity and professional athlete.
Hardy helped elevate tattooing from something that only hardscrabble sailors did into an everyday part of pop culture. Even now, he sounds slightly amazed that tattoos can be found on the legs of elementary school teachers and on the arms of sports superstars. But Hardy’s full-time tattooing days are behind him. While his son runs his San Francisco tattoo shop, Hardy now focuses on making nonskin art, which he describes as a fusion of techniques.
He is also the subject of a documentary called “Tattoo the World,’’ which has just started making the rounds in the festival circuit. Despite the fact that Hardy is now focusing on art rather than ink, he thinks that the mainstreaming of tattoos is in its infancy, and we will continue to see more folks sporting skin art.
“It’s something that’s always been with us,’’ he says. “All of the mummified remains in the world, from all different cultures, are tattooed. It predates cave paintings. It’s something that people have always felt compelled to do, and that’s not going to change in the near future.’’
Don Ed Hardy will discuss “Japanese Tattooing in Translation’’ at the Museum of Fine Arts Oct. 6 at 7 p.m. with Justin Spring , author of “Secret Historian: The Life and Times of Samuel Steward,’’ and Sarah Thompson, curator of the MFA exhibition “Under the Skin: Tattoos in Japanese Prints.’’ Tickets are $18; $15 for members, students, and seniors, www.mfa.org.
Christopher Muther can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’m sure that you tattoo artists out there will appreciate the incredible Street Art by Edgar Mueller (http://www.metanamorph.com). How’s this for a lesson in perspective? Click on images to enlarge.
Type in Bloodwork in the Search bar and see the previous posts regarding this book. Click to enlarge.
ALL THAT AND MORE
Bored? Listless? Things getting you down? Hey, put some pizazz into your life by logging onto our www.tattooroadtrip.com website, with all of its cool buttons to click. There’s even an animated tattoo crossword puzzle. It’s beautiful, educational, entertaining and contains less than 1% hydrogenated oil. No other tattoo website can make that claim! Note: To return here, simply click the Baxter’s Daily Blog button on the homepage.
Do something nice for yourself… click on the www.tattooroadtrip.com website for the best columnists, artists, photographers and superstars in the world of tattoo. Easy return to this Daily Blog.
I am looking forward to doing some killer tattoos while attending the Calgary Tattoo and Arts Festival in October. I am also excited to be bringing the Back 2 Reality Color Realism Seminar to the West Coast, which will take place at 7 p.m. on Friday, October 15th. You can see event details on my Festivals Seminar page (www.calgarytattoos.com/calgary/seminars.html).
—Kirt Silver, Silver City Tattoo, Nova Scotia, Canada
The Iowa man, 48, was arrested Thursday night by Davenport cops on a warrant for failing to appear in court to answer a misdemeanor charge of operating a motor vehicle without the owner’s consent, according to a jail booking sheet.
But enough about Winkelman’s criminal entanglements, it’s his forehead tattoo that is worth further discussion. Winkelman is pictured at right in a mug shot snapped after his bust last week. Winkelman became a human billboard for the radio station KORB in late-2000 after a disc jockey offered listeners a six-figure payout if they tattooed the FM station’s call letters and logo on their forehead. Winkelman and his stepson, Richard Goddard, went to a local tattoo parlor and each emerged with forehead ink promoting “93 Rock,” the “Quad City Rocker.”
Of course, when the men came calling for the cash, station brass explained that the offer was a practical joke, just a wacky radio stunt. Winkelman and his relative sued, claiming that the station sought to have listeners permanently marked so that they “could be publicly scorned and ridiculed for their greed and lack of common good sense.” Within months of the lawsuit’s filing, Winkelman dismissed his complaint against the DJ and Cumulus Broadcasting, KORB’s owner. Goddard’s case was later dismissed by a judge when he failed to appear for court proceedings. Since Winkelman got the tattoo, KORB’s format and call letters have changed. The former hard rock station is now known as KQCS, Star 93.5. The adult contemporary station advertises itself as playing “Today’s Best Variety!”
LONDON INTERNATIONAL TATTOO CONVENTION
Here are some photographic impressions of the London Convention by Matthias Reuss, who was there with Lars Krutak, to promote his latest book, Kalinga Tattoo, along with the fabulous 1,000-page, three-volume tattoo art series Black & Grey, both from Edition Reuss.