After reading the section from Hardy's book and watching the Sailor Jerry film, I wholly understand why Hardy entitled his biography Wear Your Dreams. To Hardy, Jerry, and thousands of other body modifiers, their art is truly their life. In regards to Ed Hardy, from a very young age he was destined to be a tattooist. Much like many of his counter parts, he was inspired to tattoo by his surroundings, the Wild West Museum near his home, tattoos in comic strips in the local paper, paint jobs on hot rods, and even Picasso. Although these muses struck his immediate interest, the artwork he is known for today is not at all reflective of these images. Hardy's style of tattooing formed over a period and with this help and influence of more experienced tattooists, including Sailor Jerry himself.
From the film, Sailor Jerry struck me as the kind of guy who takes no ones bullshit and does whatever the hell he wants. With this in mind, I think his designs were similarly influenced by his surroundings. Like we talked about in class, Jerry's work emulated "International Folk Style". This, while reflective of the limited technology of the time, I find also imitated Jerry's personality. The fact that customers were limited to choose one of Jerry’s pre-designed flash tattoos, struck me as something he would’ve chosen to do even if the technology had allowed for different. I can imagine him saying, “pick one or get out” or “you get what you get”. Regardless of how limited the selection was, Jerry’s work was truly reflective of his life. The ever-popular anchors and pin-up girls really emulated the era he lived in.
This is where I find that Hardy and Sailor Jerry differ. Though both were inspired by the cultures they grew up in, I find that Jerry’s work was much more reflective of this, while Hardy was influenced more by his teachers. You can see in the images below how Hardy’s work is almost a blend of his predecessors, Jerry and Oguri.
Of course I appreciate how talented of an artist Hardy is, but it is almost harder to appreciate his work when it does not seem one hundred percent original.
I used to watch Project Runway, and I remember Tim Gunn asking contestants if they had seen last season’s Alexander McQueen or Givenchy because their designs were nearly identical. Of course, it is always difficult not to have some form of similarity to your inspiration but with that it is just harder to appreciate. Personally, I prefer when tattoos are “culture inscribed on your body”, when there is a story behind them, and to me, Sailor Jerry’s are is truly reflective of his life and who he is.