Don Ed Hardy front/back pieces, late 1970s.
Scanned from 35mm prints from the Sailor Sid Diller collection.
Don Ed Hardy
Book of Days: Happy birthday, Ed Hardy
Donald Edward Talbot Hardy was born on 6th January, 1945.
Almost his entire life has been devoted to tattooing. Happy birthday, Ed!
This photo, scanned from a 3″x5″ print, dates back to the 1970s and features Ed tattooing a unicorn on his client’s hand.
I hate that, to most people, the name Ed Hardy is synonymous with heavily cologned, spraytanned douchebags who hang out on the Jersey shore or at overpriced bars with stabbing problems. I prepare myself, every time I bring him up to non-tattooed friends, for the onslaught of easy jokes and snide comments about the t-shirts and hats and Valentine’s cards and perfumes that were adorned with his name/artwork during the Audigier years.
What we’re concerned about here at OV is his legacy as a tattooer; the artists he inspired with his work and with the Tattoo Time book series and that when you look at a 35+ year old photo of a ‘golden era’ Hardy tattoo you still think “man that’s cool.”
This photo was scanned from a 3×5 print that could date from the late 70s/early 80s that had no annotation. Other artists unknown.
Tattoo Time Collected
To celebrate the 30th anniversary of his iconic Tattoo Time series, Hardy Marks Publications will be releasing a deluxe two volume set of all five legendary issues available for the first time in hard cover. Priced at $50, this collection is a steal. Even if you have all of the individual issues (My copy of New Tribalism has gone missing!) this will be worth picking up.
The impact of this series was astounding; when Tattoo magazines were published as part of a Biker magazine family, Ed came along and brought his ‘high art’ sensibilities to publishing; The New Tribalism, Tattoo Magic, Life and Death, Music and Sea and finally Art from the Heart all presented a snapshot at various disciplines of tattoo art. DeVita, Deustche, Higgs, Malone, Shaw… everyone who was doing something interesting in tattooing got the Tattoo Time treatment and a whole generation of artists were inspired.
The set is expected to drop in early December, so check Hardy Marks Publications for more information!
Thom DeVita Part 1: Tattoo Age
All tattooing is folk art.
Vice.com has finally begun airing the Thom DeVita arc of their ‘Tattoo Age’ series, with episode 1 currently streaming.
You can check it out here.
The first episode features Ed Hardy, Nick Bubash, Clayton Patterson, Scott Harrison, Angelo Scotto, John Wyatt, Robert Ryan, Bubba Reeves and of course Thom. If you use the Freddy Corbin arc of season 1 as a yardstick for quality, it’s really hard to imaging it getting any better. But seeing the enthusiasm that other people have for Thom and his work wins you over. Harrison’s face lights up when he talks about his ‘bad’ DeVita tattoos. These episodes- five in total- will end up being a once in a lifetime view into the life of an iconic artist.
Check it out.
Jonathan Shaw Interviews: Col. William L. Todd
In the 1990s, Tattooist Jonathan Shaw interviewed an iconic lineup of Tattoo Legends for ITA magazine. With his kind permission, Occult Vibrations is going to be digitizing these must-read interviews.
The first interview is between Jonathan and Col. Todd.
It originally ran in ITA Vol 1. No. 1, 1992.
Back in the early 1970’s, when I first became interested in the mystery of tattoos, tattooing was a closed world, almost a secret society. Most tattooers were very tight-lipped about their secrets, and tattoo supplies weren’t openly available. Col. William L. Todd was working alongside his long-standing partner, Bob Shaw, at Long Beach, in California’s famous Nu-Pike, a sprawling amusement park surrounded by military bases and studded with a dozen tattoo parlors- a very different scene from today’s genteel tattoo/art studio scene. The Pike is an important location in tattoo history, a place where history and tradition came aline for those of us who were fortunate enough to be around the the words, action and technically superior tattooing of guys like Col. Todd.
A tattooer’s tattooer of the old school, Todd is a perfect southern gentleman with a streak of the badass bootcamp drill sergeant. He always ran a tight ship!
Today, the amusement area of the Pikee is gone, paved over by developers in the endless drive for progress. All that remains of the glory days is one lone tattoo shop where the famous Bert Grimm tattooed for so many years.
Jonathan Shaw: We’re at the Bert Grimm Studio, probably the oldest tattoo shop in the country.
Col. Todd: That’s what they say.
JS: Col. Todd, when did you first start tattooing?
CT: I started in 1947. I was stationed at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas. I’d always been interested in tattooing. I had a couple of officers who were heavily tattooed, one of them having been in the Navy. I was raised on a farm where you didn’t see tattooing unless it was with a carnival or something like that passing through. I went into town in San Antonio, went up and down Houston street, where all the tattooers were, and down toward the end of the street was a circus trailer set up on blocks by itself that said “Tattoo”. It belonged to a gentleman named Jack Tyron. Anyway, Jack told me that he was tattooed all over when he was 16 by Charlie Wagner. He traveled with the circus for years then he bought a commercial lot and the circus trailer and set up shop. It’d be odd to see something like that today.
I went in, and after talking to him I got a little tattoo and asked him about buying a machine. Oh yeah, he said he’d sell me a machine. He started telling me about the mail order places.
JS: Zeis? Was it Zeis back then?
CT: Yeah, Zeis was in business in those days. I didn’t know the connections. I didn’t know how to go about it. It wasn’t as easy in those days. It wasn’t easy to learn, it wasn’t publicized in magazines like today. And the tattoo artists weren’t giving up their secrets. They wouldn’t give you any information.