Kenneth L. Hardin: Rowan County native makes career out of love for art
Published 12:01 am Saturday, February 26, 2022
By Kenneth L. Hardin
Talented visual artist Greg Hardin Jr. has never thought about making history, let alone being recognized during Black History Month for something he enjoys doing.
He’s the owner and lead artist at the Prolific Art Studio, LLC at 1021 Old West Innes St. across from Sam’s Car Wash.
Greg said he’s not aware of any other Black certified professional tattoo artists in Rowan County working in a legitimate shop or owning one as he does. So, that puts him in rare air. But he wants to make sure he’s not labeled as simply a tattoo artist because his talents extend well beyond that. Greg considers himself a multifaceted artist who offers services in airbrushing, paintings, apparel design, vehicle airbrushing, logo design, murals and any paintings or drawings by request
Greg said he can’t remember a time he wasn’t involved in art. He fondly recalled his days as a 5-year old drawing and coloring in books. As he matured through the Rowan-Salisbury School System, he began customizing sneakers and painting T-shirts for fellow classmates at North Rowan High School. After a church member entered him in an art scholarship contest in the 10th grade, where he won 2nd place, he realized he had real artistic talent. He credits the late East Spencer Alderman Tony Hillian for putting him in a position to purchase his first piece of professional equipment. While in high school, Hillian gave Greg a job working in a booth at the then Lowes Motor Speedway. With the money earned, he purchased his first airbrush machine.
Greg attended Winston-Salem State University, where he majored in computer graphics. Like Apple’s Steve Jobs and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Greg opted to leave just shy of graduating and dove fully into pursuing his gift. He toiled for 10 years working in other people’s shops and continued to hone his craft in a studio inside his home. In 2020, he took a leap of faith and opened his first art studio located in a small building in the northern part of the city. With unexpected success and growth, he realized after that year he needed a larger location to expand his growing customer base. This led him to businessman John Schofield, who Greg refers to as his business mentor and someone he greatly admires and respects. He said Schofield is not just his landlord, but someone he can talk with about his business ideas and future plans.
At his current larger location, Greg has expanded his new studio to include a main artist station where he has his office complete with a pool table and an area large enough for customers to relax. The studio also includes two additional artist stations and an area for piercings in the near future. He’s created a merchandise line emblazoned with the word “Earth” on T-shirts, sweatshirts and hats that rest in display cases and racks against the wall in the main waiting area.
It’s the forebearer of a coming nonprofit organization that will focus on organic gardening, and healing for the earth through art. He said his motto is “art is earth and earth is art.” Greg plans to offer a summer youth art program and wants to help young artists recognize their talents and develop like he did.
With the explosive growth he’s recognized and the phenomenal support and following he has on social media from those who admire his work, he plans to open additional studios in and outside of Rowan County.
Greg is such a sought after artist that restaurants, clothing stores, nail salons and other businesses in Rowan, Guilford and Mecklenburg counties have contacted him to complete work. When asked what makes a great tattoo artist, he answered that, since there’s no actual certification, it’s critical people look at artists’ portfolios and gauge the quality of their work.
Greg said he follows stringent health department requirements and personal protection safety protocols with all customers. Greg said that although tattoos from people from all walks of life and economic backgrounds make up a large portion of business, he’s a lover of all forms of visual art.
He closed by saying if he has made history, that’s fine, but his goal is to increase the love of art by everyone.
Kenneth L. (Kenny) Hardin is a former City Councilman, a member of the National Association of Black Journalists and Greg Hardin’s proud uncle.