Ed Hardy: Deeper Than Skin at the de Young


This Thursday, July 11, fans of both tattoos and fine art will be treated to a special evening at San Francisco’s de Young Museum: the opening night for the first retrospective of famed tattoo artist and longtime North Beach resident, Don Ed Hardy.

Ed Hardy: Deeper Than Skin is a decades-spanning look at one of the most prolific and storied tattooists of the last century, and tomorrow night the man himself will be there.

When Ed Hardy began his career he had a singular goal in mind: elevating the practice of tattooing into an art form. His career began early, too…like really early. As a young child, he could be found “tattooing” his friends with makeup pilfered from his mother. Taking a somewhat non-traditional (for his medium) route, he studied printmaking at the San Francisco Art Institute and, though he was accepted into Yale’s MFA program, he turned it down to study under famed tattoo artists “Sailor” Jerry Collins.

It was under this tutelage that Hardy would make a connection that changed both the trajectory of his career and the scope of his work. Collins introduced Hardy to irezumi, the Japanese art of traditional tattooing, emphasizing the work of Horihide, a master of the craft. In 1973 Hardy became the first Westerner to be trained in Japan, and incorporated the style of irezumi into his more traditional tattoo “flash tattoo” work.

At Tattoo City, his North Beach shop, Hardy’s unique designs were tattooed onto thousands of people in the 40 odd years he was active before retiring in 2011. He has since focused solely on his paintings, which will be a part of 300 or so objects on display at the new de Young exhibit.

Ed Hardy: Deeper Than Skin runs from July 13-October 6, 2019. The July 11 opening reception is free with RSVP and presented in conjuntion with Juxtapoz Magazine, and runs from 730-10pm. And how cool is this: during the run of the show, if you’re sporting ink, the show is discounted or free! Full body tattoos gets you in for free, an arm sleeve is half off, and sporting at least one tattoo is $5 off. But be prepared to verify on-site, of course!