Freddy Negrete is best known for pioneering the black-and-gray tattoo style while serving time in a series of correctional facilities. While still a youth, Freddy entered into a life of abuse, gangs, crime, and drug addiction. Freddy's is best known for originating the early "prison-style" designs that eventually found their way onto the streets of East LA. Freddy has been featured in the History Channel's Marked series, in the documentary Tattoo Nation, on Spike TV's Inkmaster as a guest judge, and in numerous print, online, and video publications. He has worked as a tattoo consultant on over 30 Hollywood films including Batman, Blade, Con Air and Austin Powers. He currently works at The Shamrock Social Club on the Sunset Strip.
In this episode we talk about:
What gang life was really like in East LA
Freddy losing 9 friends to gang violence
How Freddie started tattooing
Good Time Charlie's Tattoo shop
How to express God to a newcomer
How Freddy talked to God when he was close to death and asked for redemption
Why at one point It was impossible for Freddie to have faith
Smile Now, Cry Later: Guns, Gangs and Tattoos—My Life in Black and Gray By Freddy Negrete and Steve Jones
Published by Seven Stories Press, New York
Pioneering black-and-gray tattoo artist Freddy Negrete was twelve years old and confined in the holding cell of a Los Angeles juvenile facility when an older teenager entered—covered in tattoos. Freddy was in awe, not just of the art, but of what it symbolized, and he wanted what this kid had: the potent sense of empowerment and belonging that came from joining a gang. The encounter drove Freddy to join La Sangra, and it didn't take long before he was a regular guest at LA County's juvenile detention facilities. By the age of twenty-one, Freddy had spent almost his whole life as a ward of the state in one form or the other.
Enthralled by the black-and-gray tattoo style that in the 1970s was confined to the rebel culture of Chicano gangsters and criminals, Freddy started inking himself with hand-poked tattoos.In a riveting narrative that takes the reader from Freddy's days as a cholo gang member to evangelical preacher to Hollywood body art guru to full-blown heroin addict, Smile Now, Cry Later is, ultimately, a testament to that spark within us all, that catalyst which gives us the strength to survive, transform, and transcend all that can destroy us.
Purchase Smile Now, Cry Later here: