Born in London to a family with strong artistic connections, Martin Hardie practised art throughout his youth and was well educated, going up to read classics at Cambridge. However; it was upon his appointment as second-in-command of the newly formed Department of Engraving, Illustration and Design at the Victoria & Albert Museum that he determined to acquire a working knowledge of the techniques of printmaking. Fortunately for Martin Hardie, the Royal College of Art was housed in part of the museum buildings at the time. Consequently, Hardie was able to attend the etching classes of Sir Frank Short, who took him in as his protégé. As a result of this, Martin Hardie came into contact with almost all of the leading printmakers and printers of the time. By 1908 Martin Hardie had become an Associate of the Royal Society of Painter-Etchers and by 1920 he was both a Fellow and Honorary Secretary of the Society and of the Print Collectors’ Club.
Aside from his considerable output as an etcher and watercolourist, Martin Hardie was an important writer and cataloguer on the prints of the British Etching Revival, producing the leading catalogues on the works of Sir Frank Short, James McBey and others.