Sunday, February 28, 2010

Blog for week 9... Paul Mullowney article

I don't know much about Ed Hardy. From what I hear and see in stores, Ed Hardy, to me seemed like an ordinary white dude who knew how to draw and creatively adapted his art to "what was cool" in a contemporary sense to be "popular". I don't wear Ed Hardy, not because the brand isn't appealing to me, but because it seems like it's wayyyyyy too played out. I guess a similar example would be Echo or Fubu, where something that was intended to appeal to a specific group just took off so much on the mainstream level, that it was no longer appealing to the group it was initially intended for. I would just call that irony. Unfortunately I feel the same way about Ed Hardy before reading this article about him as a person. I pretty much labeled him in a negative context.

What I found interesting about Ed Hardy was that he not only became a pioneer for Japanese style tattooing in the US, but he also knows quite a bit about the art itself. He is a perfect blend of someone who is knowledgeable in tattoo art and graphic arts as well.
Now when it comes down to how I feel about people like Ed Hardy, I am kind of torn with what he is doing. It's great that someone like him is bringing back Japanese tattoo, and in fact changing the connotation of Japanese Tattoo in many ways to Japanese in Japan, I am not too happy with the way he is doing it. Yes he is bringing back a seemingly doomed style of art that was, since 600 ad for Japanese gangsters, but now that it is brought back from the dead, and is now "booming" I feel there is a problem. When something so beautiful and traditional as Japanese tattoo art is blown up on a mainstream level, it has this effect of peaking very quickly in popularity and then subsiding soon there after. What I worry about, is that just like any fads or styles that blew up so quickly and died so quickly after, in a sense this mainstream publicity of Japanese tattoo will sooner than later bring the art to its grave. Think about it this way: If you leave something alone that has its strong supportive followers, though few in number, it will hold its value and respect among the community that keeps it alive. When you publicize something that is socially and culturally exclusive to a mainstream level, you lose the strong and loyal community that initially kept it alive before it became popular on the mainstream level. Once something loses its true followers because of its now mainstream popularity, its only a matter of time before mainstream popularity subsides and completely cripples that style or fad; leaving it in the dust. I think this is far worse, in the end, rather than keeping something exclusive so that it doesn't get "played out" on a mainstream level. True, it won't be internationally known, but at least it will keep a steady consistency and stay alive. On top of this, because it is mainstream, people put their own incorporations and styles into the Japanese style and art, and little by little kill the art this way. Before you know it we're going to have our own "style" of Japanese tattoo. I just don't like it.
"Hardy’s colorful and exotic tattoo designs-cum-artwork seem to help sell just about anything. Cruise around the local mall or online and you will find Ed Hardy sweaters, jeans, shower curtains, golf carts, nasal strips and lollipops."

As far as the compact challenge goes, I've done a good job of not buying any clothing. When I find something that I like, I make sure to check where it was made, etc. I guess one good thing to know is, I tend not to buy too much hyped and mainstream clothing. Most of my clothes that have any print on them are skate clothes from small companies from California and the Midwest.

Mason Mallory
Outside Source:
Article: Paul Mullowney Ed. "Wood Skin Ink: The Japanese Aesthetic in Modern Tattooing".

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