Most people know of Don Ed Hardy solely for his clothing designs. Many, because of this, despise the name Ed Hardy as numerous celebrities such as the cast of the Jersey Shore both enjoy and promote his clothing. It’s thought to be a bit presumptuous and audacious, being worn by “Guido’s”, UFC fanatics, and muscle heads alike when they prepare for a night on the town.
But thinking of Ed Hardy solely for his clothing designs is like thinking Marky Ramone only ever made Marinara Pasta Sauce. It could be forgotten that before his venture into sauces, he was a leader in the punk rock and heavy metal scene. Fighting the system, raising hell, and a proponent for anarchy. Literally once being respected for his hard-core nature and music, while now he is having his image used for nothing more than a gimmick and marketing ploy to sell pasta sauce.
Selling Out Or Cashing In
You can’t blame an artist for cashing in, especially when numerous have failed before, and their time has been spent building up a reputation for themselves. If success were looming overhead, who would not reach out for it? There is the common saying, “a starving artist,” but is that supposed to continue indefinitely? Must artists continually starve to stay true to their convictions and to be respected by others?
Countless examples could be given in this realm. People often badmouth Bill Gates and Microsoft. But Bill Gates started from nothing in a garage, and donates more money now than the next richest 10 people under him combined. But he is criticized continually for his success, and for Microsoft having a monopoly on operating systems. I hear people say how they hate John Adams beer, as they pretend to be a small brewery and did not stay true to their microbrewery nature. But John Adams was a president and patriot first, while now his name is synonymous with a generic beer.
The point is that it takes very little for people to turn on something that was once respected and loved because they no longer agree with how things are done. Forgetting what made that person famous; the struggle, hard work, and mental capacity that was required for them to succeed. Now that’s not to say that their points aren’t valid, but at least pay the respect when it is due. A single wrong should not overshadow everything positive that made them a success initially.
The Artist Don Ed Hardy, Not The Clothing Designer
Don Ed Hardy was born in Laguna Beach, California in January of 1945. He attended the San Francisco Art Institute and graduated with his Bachelors in Fine Arts in Printmaking.
In 1973, Hardy studied classical tattooing in Japan under the renowned Japanese Tattoo artist Horihide. Because of this study, the Japanese tattoo aesthetics and technique can easily be noticed in his works, both in his paintings as well as his clothing designs.
Hardy has published over 25 books on alternative art, which is what he specializes in. Hardy and his wife formed Hardy Marks Publications in 1982, which published his 5 book series Tattootime. Though, starting in the 1960s, he moved away from tattooing and focused more on other art forms, such as printmaking, painting, and drawing.
Mayor Jerry Brown also appointed him to the Oakland city Cultural Art Commission in 2000. This fact should help to dispel the idea that Hardy is simply a clothing designer, that he actually has merits in the art world.
In the end, I can’t help but agree with the critics about the clothes Ed Hardy puts out, as well as the certain celebrities chosen to endorse their products. But this terrible turn in his legacy, which has only been around for a few years, should not take away from the achievements of his past.
It is a sad thing that Don Ed Hardy himself didn’t step in to say, “No, no I don’t really want to be associated with celebrities such as The Situation. No, I don’t care to be advertised next to TapOut clothing at the next UFC Event.” Even Abercrombie and Fitch purposely paid “The Situation” to not wear their clothes as his image was a detriment to theirs, as they realized he’s really not a good role model or endorser for their products.
It would have been “nicer” to see less audacious clothes being made, but again, would that have sold? There’s a reason people hate the Ed Hardy line, and that’s not only because a few bad apples sport the brand, but that it is so prolific. As though unless your arms are so big you can’t touch the back of your neck, you shouldn’t be wearing these fancy t-shirts.
But many things can be used to sell an idea, though the best tactic of all is selling with actual money. It’s unknown how much Ed Hardy has made from his clothing line, but you can rest assured its more than all the tattoos, paintings, and books he has sold combined. You can shout and scream “sell out” till your face turns blue, but it’s unlikely Hardy will be able to hear you in the keep of his castle, and even less likely he would care if he did.
After all, he’s selling clothing, the style of which made him famous to begin with. It’s the same logic where people say guns kill people, when actually people kill people. Hardy makes clothes that disreputable people happen to wear, the clothes don’t make them disreputable. So next time you see a gorilla head acting a fool and wearing one of Ed Hardy’s shirts, don’t blame Don Ed Hardy for his behavior. Because in the end, you can hate the game, but there’s no need to hate the players.
The author of this article was Damien S. Wilhelmi, an avant-garde SEO agent and content creating guru. If you enjoyed this article, you can follow me on twitter @JakabokBotch. I am writing on behalf of 15th Street Studios who have on display some of the best paintings in Colorado, some even by Don Ed Hardy himself. They are the premier Boulder Art Gallery in Colorado.