Don Hardy, born in Southern California in 1945, followed a childhood determination to become a tattoo artist and underwent a tattoo apprenticeship while simultaneously receiving a B.F.A. degree in printmaking at the San Francisco Art Institute in 1967. Tattooing professionally, he developed the fine art potential of the medium with emphasis on its Asian heritage. In 1973 he lived in Japan, studying with a traditional tattoo master. He was introduced to him by his primary mentor in the medium, Sailor Henry Collins of Honolulu. He resumed these studies in Japan throughout the 1980's. Since 1974 he pioneered the emphasis on unique tattoo commissions at his San Francisco studio as well as concentrating heavily on non-tattoo based art forms, especially printmaking, drawing, and painting. Today, although retired from tattooing, he is now focusing on overseeing and mentoring the artists at his San Francisco studio, Tattoo City.
In 2004, Christian Audigier licensed the rights to produce the Ed Hardy clothing line, which is based on Hardy's imagery. Considered one of the most exciting rises in fashion history, Christian Audigier has used his design experience and business knowledge to become a true fashion icon and entrepreneurial sensation. In 2004 he created and launched the widely popular Ed Hardy brand. With Ed Hardy, Christian not only created a brand, but a lifestyle of street couture. Ed Hardy is now the hottest selling line around the world with a huge following of celebrities such as Madonna, Britney Spears, Kanye West, and more than 5,000 other celebrities, athletes, and musicians.