// Freddy’s Story

Freddy Negrete, featured in the History Channel’s Marked series (Barrio of Blood—September 2009), is referred to as a “legend” in the tattoo world and is a frequent V.I.P. guest of honor at body art conventions all over America. Freddy appeared as a guest judge on Spike TV’s 2nd season of Inkmaster, hosted by Jane’s Addiction guitarist Dave Navarro, alongside Oliver Peck and Miami Ink star, Chris Nunez.

Freddy is featured as the first professional Chicano tattoo artist and pioneer of the black-and-gray style in the theatrical documentary Tattoo Nation produced by John Corry and directed by Eric Schwarz (released in April, 2013.) Freddy has been featured in numerous print and online magazines, blogs and video interviews including Bound by Ink, Inked and Tattoo Artist Magazine.

Freddy also ran his own tattoo studio, Rat-a-tattoo, for many years and worked with top directors/talent such as Taylor Hackford, Joel Schumacher and Keanu Reeves on films such as Batman Forever, Con Air, Last Action Hero, Austin Powers and Blade. He not only worked as a tattoo designer, but also advised on the authentic portrayal of Chicano cholo gang culture in the film Falling Down featuring Michael Douglas.

In the late seventies, while serving time in the Preston School of Industry correctional facility for a gang-related firearm incident, Freddy’s “prison-style” designs found their way out onto the streets of East Los Angeles and caught the eye of two other body art pioneers: Ed Hardy and Jack Rudy. Don Ed Hardy is known for introducing the Japanese technique into the American tattoo scene and for creating the Ed Hardy apparel and accessories brand.

Over thirty-five years ago, Don Ed Hardy ran Good Time Charlie’s Tattooland in East Los Angeles. After recognizing Freddy’s extraordinary talent, Hardy hired and mentored Freddy as a full-time artist. Freddy didn’t disappoint. Within a short period of time, he went on to create a Madonna “back piece” that earned him a Tattoo Artist of the Year Award in 1980. Don Ed Hardy was so impressed by the design he called it “the tattoo of the decade.”

Freddy began introducing the black-and-gray style, that was hitherto the domain of Chicano gangsters, into the mainstream but his meteoric rise in the tattoo world was cut short when he was introduced to a Christian evangelical movement. In an extraordinary move, and to the surprise and disappointment of his mentor Ed Hardy, he abandoned tattooing completely for a period of ten years. During this hiatus Freddy attended Azusa Pacific University and graduated in Biblical Literature. Freddy also joined The Brethren of Christ, spent time out in Pennsylvania with the Amish and the Mennonites, and returned to Los Angeles as a Zoot Suit-wearing pastor of his own church, The Living Word.

During this period Freddy developed his public speaking skills, often speaking to thousands at gang rallies. In the process, he managed to extricate numerous gang members from the La Vida Loca lifestyle and show them a new way of life. Freddy also wrote the play, When the Party’s Over, which premiered to great success at the San Gabriel Civic Auditorium. The play was featured in the Los Angeles Times.

After returning to tattooing in 1990, Freddy was surprised to learn that the black-and-gray style had gone fully mainstream, way beyond its cultural confines, and that he was now recognized as the first Chicano artist to pioneer the art form. After his return, Freddy went on to win numerous awards, including best black-and-gray at the Los Angeles Body Art Expo and Ventura Tattoo Convention, Tattoo of the Day at the Fresno and Albuquerque Tattoo Conventions. He was also placed in the top three in other contests, including the Ink Slingers Ball and the San Diego Tattoo Convention.

In 2007, Freddy was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Body Art Expo, one of the biggest and most established of the numerous tattoo conventions held around the globe. Freddy was also included in the Dream Team, a Top 10 list of the best artists in the world featured in Easy Rider Magazine.

Having suffered the ravages of drug addiction for many years, Freddy is now a certified volunteer, working closely with young, vulnerable addicts at Beit T’Shuvah in Los Angeles, a treatment center based on Jewish spirituality and Twelve Step principles. Freddy also leads a group in another Los Angeles treatment facility and lives in Hollywood with his son Isaiah who is also a successful tattoo artist. They both work at the Shamrock Social Club on the Sunset Strip and have tattooed numerous celebrities, musicians and sport personalities.