Ed Hardy: From art to infamy and back again

Story highlights

  • Ed Hardy, the tattoo artist behind popular clothing line of the same name, released memoir in June
  • Hardy signed a deal giving Christian Audigier rights to produce products with his art
  • Once the height of popularity, the Hardy empire fell from favor due to overexposure
  • Hardy is still making art and wants the public to know he is more than the clothing brand
The name Ed Hardy conjures visions of rhinestone-studded trucker hats, colorful cartoon skulls, dragons and koi fish, and reality stars like Jon Gosselin and the cast of Jersey Shore.
A profitable licensing deal with French businessman Christian Audigier put Hardy's work on clothing, energy drinks, fragrances and even tanning lotions. It seemed like the deal of a lifetime, but in hindsight, Hardy said, the agreement made his name synonymous with the "douches" of pop culture and ultimately cheapened his personal brand.
Now, he is stepping out from behind the large shadow of the Ed Hardy brand to set the record straight in "Wear Your Dreams: My Life in Tattoos," a memoir released in June. Co-written with biographer Joel Selvin, the book shares how Hardy went from college-educated fine artist to tattoo pioneer to one of the most polarizing brands in recent memory.