Last month, when I was choosing things from Amazon’s Vine program to review, I picked a book listed as “Ed Hardy Art for Life: Pop Culture“.Â I was in a hurry, saw the title and a thumbnail picture that looked like a roughly square format book and picked it without really reading the description.Â I assumed it was a book about pop culture generally, maybe even about record cover art, but when it arrived it turned out to be about a tattoo artist called Ed Hardy.No big problem.Â I am not totally uninterested by tattoos, and one of the little pleasures of the whole Vine thing is sometimes taking a bit of a lucky dip to get something I would not have necessarily chosen.Â It can be an opportunity to broaden my mind a little bit.
In this case it didn’t work.Â I was distinctly underwhelmed by the book, although I’ll admit I am probably not the target audience for it anyway.
Having said that, the premise for the book is a little flaky.Â It is very much an art book, well bound and beautifully printed on good quality, thick paper.Â The short introduction/biography makes much of how Hardy started as a more general art student, became aÂ well-regarded tattoo artist and then moved into designs for clothing and ceramics and into painting.Â The gist of it seemed to be that he is a ‘respectable artist’ because of that, justifying a serious book – and yet surely most people who are interested in him are interested because of the more counter-culural tattoo work.
I can appreciate that Hardy has more artistic talent in his lttle finger than I have in my whole body, but a lot of the designs in the book don’t really do much for me.Â Personally I prefer the more geometric tattoo designs, but that is all subjective.Â Unless you already know about Hardy and are a fan, a better book for anybody interested in tattoos would be one of the Taschen books.
It only took me about 15 minutes to digest the whole thing, so I spent a similarly short amount of time reviewing it:
For somebody like me who knew nothing about Ed Hardy, this book does not contain enough to fill me in on the subject: just seven pages of biography and lots of pictures.Â I imagine that for those in the know it does not contain anywhere near enough pictures.
The book is packaged and presented like a fine art book, and much is made of Hardy’s diversification into areas like ceramics and paintings, but most of the illustrations are of body art.
As an outsider maybe I would have found it useful to have some context to the illustrations, like examples of the work that was supposed to have influenced Hardy so I could see how he took elements of traditional and contemporary Japanese tattoos and other pictures and what he added to it.
To be fair, this is probably aimed at a niche market which I am not part of. It didn’t make me want to rush out and get another tattoo.