Don Ed Hardy: The Tattoo Artist Behind the Clothing Brand

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Model Corde Broadus walks the runway during the Ed Hardy Swimwear 2011 fashion show during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Swim at the Raleigh on July 16, 2010 in Miami Beach, Florida. (Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

Many people might associate the name Ed Hardy with colorful T shirts and rhinestone-emblazoned trucker hats. But Don Ed Hardy first drew attention as a barrier-breaking tattoo artist in the 1960s. He graduated from the San Francisco Art Institute before foregoing a Yale arts fellowship to study tattooing in Japan. Today, Hardy focuses mainly on painting and printmaking, but still owns a San Francisco tattoo shop. We talk to Hardy about his work, about tattoos becoming mainstream and how he feels about his brand being associated with “Jersey Shore” stars.

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