// Smile Now Cry Later

Freddy Negrete Smile Now Cry later

Guns, Gangs and Tattoos My Life in Black and Gray

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 the notorious gang 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. Everyone wanted a piece of Freddy’s black-and-gray style, not only gangbangers, but also Hollywood directors, actors and sports personalities.

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 addiction counselor, 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.

// Smile Now Cry Later

Freddy Negrete Smile Now Cry later

Guns, Gangs and Tattoos My Life in Black and Gray

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 the notorious gang 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. Everyone wanted a piece of Freddy’s black-and-gray style, not only gangbangers, but also Hollywood directors, actors and sports personalities.

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 addiction counselor, 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.

Freddy Negrete Tattoo

// Black & Gray

Freddy Negrete Tattoo ShamrockBlack and Gray’s origins can be traced back to the Chicano barrios of East Los Angeles and the California State Prison System. In the pachuco, and later, the cholo gang culture, art was important and the key images were associated with the religious icons of Catholicism (The Virgin of Guadalupe), Mexican revolutionary images—Pancho Villa and Zapata—and Aztec imagery. Chicanos felt that the Aztec culture was a part of their heritage—they viewed themselves as warriors—and the revolutionary images symbolized their rebel nature—rebels in a racist society.

Lettering allowed them to express who they were and where they were from. Being opposed to the law, and living in a racist society, led to Chicanos spending a lot of time in institutions, and this is where their art, and tattooing, developed. With prison ingenuity, and the creation of home-made tattoo machines, tattooing became sophisticated. There were no colors available so all the tattoos were black and gray, and inked in a photo-realistic style, at a time when traditional tattoos consisted of a very simple, cartoon-like style.

In the mid-1970s, Charlie Cartwright and Jack Rudy opened a tattoo shop called ‘Good Time Charlie’s’ on Whittier Boulevard—the central hub of lowriding and cruising for cholo gangsters. They realized that the people in East LA wanted their tattoos to look as if they were done in prison—that specific Chicano, black-and-gray, pinta style that told the world: you were a badass. Around this time, Freddy Negrete, who had developed this style in prison (C.Y.A), was released and tattooed his homeboys using a prison-style machine. His work was recognized by Jack Rudy and Charlie, and when Ed Hardy bought ‘Good Time Charlie’s,’ he hired Freddy Negrete to work at ‘Good Time Charlie’s Tattooland’ and Freddy Negrete, Jack Rudy, Bob Roberts, Mark Mahoney and Ed Hardy pioneered and introduced this new style of tattooing to the professional tattoo world.

Freddy Negrete Tattoo

// About Freddy

Freddy Negrete Smile Now Cry later

Legendary tattoo artist FREDDY NEGRETE is best known for his pioneering black-and-gray tattoo style, honed while serving time in a series of correctional facilities during a youth mired in abuse, gang life, and drug addiction. His “prison-style” designs eventually found their way out onto the streets of East LA and, in 1980, he created a piece that earned him a Tattoo Artist of the Year Award.

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.

// About Freddy

Freddy Negrete Smile Now Cry later

Legendary tattoo artist FREDDY NEGRETE is best known for his pioneering black-and-gray tattoo style, honed while serving time in a series of correctional facilities during a youth mired in abuse, gang life, and drug addiction. His “prison-style” designs eventually found their way out onto the streets of East LA and, in 1980, he created a piece that earned him a Tattoo Artist of the Year Award.

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.