Here's How Ed Hardy Really Felt About The Infamous Clothing Line

It may come as a surprise to many, but the tattoo artist Don Ed Hardy, known by his middle name, didn't have any direct involvement with the infamous clothing line named after him. The clothing line was inspired by his classic tattoo art, however, he never planned on doing any apparel. In an interview with ArtNet News, Hardy explained, "A company from Japan saw in an article about me and approached me about putting my artwork on clothing and turning it into a fashion thing. They had a store in Los Angeles, and that caught the eye of Christian Audigier, who also did the Von Dutch clothing line."

Hardy explains Audigier was connected in Hollywood, so his line became a virtual overnight success. "Christian was one of those 'any publicity is good publicity' people, and he didn't care who was wearing the Ed Hardy brand. Some of them were not great, inspiring people in the pop culture world. I want to say one of them was this guy, Jon Gosselin? I was aware of about ten percent of what was happening. It was really surreal," he confessed.

Hardy explains that he didn't take the negative backlash personally: "They didn't like the preening clown who was wearing the stuff. I thought, 'I'm not like that guy—I just drew the images!'"

Hardy's legacy as an artist was recognized by San Francisco's de Young Museum

Hardy's entire life's work was put on display at San Francisco's de Young Museum in July 2019. The exhibit titled Ed Hardy: Deeper Than Skin was the first time Hardy's work has been displayed at a museum. "It's an enormous validation for me," Hardy told ArtNet News. "My entire life has been art. The only thing I was ever good at was drawing."

The tattoo artist admitted that he hoped the exhibit would change the way people associate his name with the clothing brand rather than his work. "The Ed Hardy clothing line, that's what everybody knows when they hear my name. They have no idea that there's more behind it," he said. "I think the show will dramatically expose my work to people, so I was completely thrilled and honored to have the museum approach me."

Hardy has designed "tens of thousands of tattoos" in his 40-year career in addition to drawing, painting, and other mediums of art.