ROSE HARDY
Interview with the NZ tattoo artist

Rose Hardy interview.

Rose Hardy is probably the funniest person I’ve interviewed, and on top of that her work is super super rad. Kiwi rules!
Published in Acclaim magazine.
More about the NZ tattoo artist Rose Hardy.

Chest ink

Chest ink

Auckland-based Rose Hardy is probably one of the most exciting new tattooer coming out of the New Zealand scene. Confirmed airbrush painter, she’s also the daughter of Ed Hardy… Not the original tattoo legend though, but a kiwi homonym actually not related at all (funny isn’t it!). Currently on the road, she will demonstrate her talent in Melbourne’s Chapel Tattoo Studio until 17th of July, just before pursuing a European trip, from London to Stockholm.

Rose Hardy back tattoo

Back tattoo

LET’S START OFF WITH THE BASIC. HOW DID YOU GET INTO TATTOOING AND DO YOU HAVE ANY SORT OF FORMAL ART TRAINING?
Before I started learning tattooing I was all set to go to art school. I’m actually really glad it worked out the way it did. No student loan for me! I got my start in tattooing from Adam Craft when I was 19. He got my foot in the door, showed me the basics and helped me out a lot. Adam left the country to tattoo in Europe and after that I apprenticed under a couple of different artists, Aaron Stradwick being the last. He quit tattooing after I was well on my way working on paying customers, it was a damn shame! I feel really fortunate to have been taught and had the opportunity to work with the artists I have. In Auckland, the tattoo scene is relatively small considering the population, and unfortunately there’s not that many amazing tattooers. If you manage to land an apprenticeship, you better pray to God that what your being taught isn’t going to do more harm than good. I suppose you could say that about most cities though, there’s always the good and bad…

Back tattoo sketch by Rose Hardy

Back tattoo sketch by Rose Hardy

SO YOU’RE ON THE ROAD NOW, WHAT DIFFERENCES, IF ANY, DO YOU NOTICE BETWEEN TATTOOING INSIDE AND OUTSIDE OF YOUR AUCKLAND STUDIO?
It’s pretty similar I guess, coming to Australia. People there are great and I’ve had a lot of fun tattoos to do. In Brisbane and Melbourne, people are pretty chilled and happy with what I want to give them. In Auckland people seem a little more fussy and picky – which is totally fine, but it’s awesome when someone just gives you their whole chest, or arm, and say “do whatever, I love your stuff”. I’ve actually been quite surprised, it seems like a lot more people than I expected over here are familiar with my work and want to get tattooed. It seems like I’m more popular here than I am at home! I’ll definitely be back once a year for a few months from here on in.

Painting on a vase by Rose Hardy

Painting on a vase by Rose Hardy

CAN YOU GIVE US A BRIEF FUNNY JOB STORY?
One day this woman came into the studio, she looked and acted kinda shifty and asked if I could cover up a scar she had, which was well below the belt, if you know what I mean. I told her it’s no problem and asked what kind of design she wanted, and she said “A stallion…”. So I’m like “sure, what kinda pose?”. She responds “I want it rearing up and, and… it should have a tiny… a tiny erection”. Ok, my first thought is “stallions don’t have tiny erections, do they?” Anyway I’m roughing this thing out and she adds “it should also have lettering around it saying… Stallions Nut Bar”. Then she tells me the tattoo is for her husband who left her and she’s hoping it will be healed by a certain date because she’s getting glamour shots taken for him. So we did the tattoo and everything went fine. A couple of weeks after that she came back in and got her husband’s name tattooed under the ‘tiny erection’ (I kept it well in proportion by the way). I ended up getting a call from her months later. She thanked me very much and told me the glamour shots looked great and the tattoo was a hit! Her husband is back and all is well. Happy ending…

Rose Hardy artwork

Artwork by the tattoer Rose Hardy

HOW DO YOU SEE TATTOO CULTURE AFFECTING FASHION, FINE ARTS AND THE ADVERTISING INDUSTRY?
For the last three years, I have worked for Illicit in New Zealand – a clothing label/boutique/tattoo studio who have used my (and other tattoo artists) designs on some of the ranges. I also design for a US company called Tattooed Steel, who laser-etches my work onto jewellery. Tattooing is pretty mainstream now, and people will always cash in on the cool factor. The fashion industry has used tattoo designs for a long time. Some work really well I think, but on the flipside there is a shitload of traditional style designs being thrown onto clothing that don’t have a lot of artistic merit. It’s a dime a dozen. Tattoos grab your attention, so they work well in advertising. A lot of tattooers are also incredible painters / sculptors / photographers. I think it’s awesome that these days a tattooer can be taken seriously as a fine artist, to the point that they can have sell-out shows in top galleries without having the art school background. Through the years 2002-2005, alongside my friend Gary, I organized quite a few group art exhibitions in Auckland, concentrating on promoting artists who weren’t formally trained. Quite a few came from tattoo or graffiti backgrounds. They were a lot of fun (and stress) to organize and were pretty successful. If I had more time, I’d love to get back into that side of things. At the moment I barely have enough time to paint, so maybe in a few years I’ll pick it up again!

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