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.

Author Bio – Freddy Negrete

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.

Author Bio – Steve Jones

Steve’s first foray into writing was as a contributor to the Hamburg-based digital design magazine, ‘Page.’ In the mid-90s he published his first book, a guide to troubleshooting the Apple Macintosh (International Thomson Publishing). His first play, Cracked Eggs was staged at the Finborough Theatre in Earls Court, London. He later co-produced Cracked Eggs as a short film featuring Jared Harris (King George VI in ‘The Crown’), which screened at the Austin, Boston Underground, LA Shorts, and London Independent film festivals. His subsequent plays Baloopa’s Journey and Hero & Zero were awarded arts council grants in England, Austria, and Lithuania. Check out Steve’s website here

Reviews

“…an incredibly literate personal tale that transcends Latin American culture, gang lifestyle, and incarceration. It’s a story of purpose and triumph, and it’s truly remarkable.” — Nick Cassavetes, filmmaker and actor (The Notebook, Alpha Dog, My Sister’s Keeper)

“Freddy’s work speaks to people . . . [He] has certainly lived a colorful life—full of darkness and light—and it is these experiences that speak to us through his work.”— Dave Navarro, guitarist (Jane’s Addiction) and host of Spike TV’s Inkmaster

“Freddy Negrete’s former life is as dark and forbidding as a thick lined skull tattoo on the face of a menacing gangbanger. This memoir by Negrete and Steve Jones is riveting and intense and I couldn’t put it down.” — Patrick O’Neil, author of Gun, Needle, Spoon.

“[Freddy Negrete] was the man who took the Chicano, black-and-gray, joint-style straight out of the prisons and to the top of the tattoo world. To this day, Freddy’s work never ceases to amaze me.” — Danny Trejo, actor (Spy Kids, From Dusk Till Dawn)

“Freddy Negrete’s story is about how even the most troubled young man has vital gifts for the world, intrinsic to who he’s meant to be, and filling a void only an artist can fill. His is the story of our time.” —Luis J. Rodriguez, author of the memoir Always Running, La Vida Loca, Gang Days in L.A., and It Calls You Back: An Odyssey Through Love, Addiction, Revolutions, and Healing

“You may think your favorite artist is an O.G. of the tattoo world. But compared with Freddy Negrete, almost everyone else is still a rookie. As one of the most experienced and influential tattoo artists in the world, Negrete was already making a name for himself before many of today’s top tattooers could walk.” — LA Weekly

“As I read this gripping memoir, I reflected on the fact that Negrete’s story is a communal one…[In] Freddy Negrete’s life, we see a truer image of Los Angeles’s past and present—a truer image of ourselves. Angelenos are finally learning to take care of their own.” — Los Angeles Review of Books

“The precision, mastery, and nuance of Negrete’s work in skin emerged from a personal history of triumph over a volatile youth. His life story is an inspirational testament to the possibilities of the human spirit.” — Don Ed Hardy, one of the fathers of modern-day tattooing.

Freddy Negrete Smile Now Cry later

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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.

Author Bio – Freddy Negrete

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.

Author Bio – Steve Jones

Steve’s first foray into writing was as a contributor to the Hamburg-based digital design magazine, ‘Page.’ In the mid-90s he published his first book, a guide to troubleshooting the Apple Macintosh (International Thomson Publishing). His first play, Cracked Eggs was staged at the Finborough Theatre in Earls Court, London. He later co-produced Cracked Eggs as a short film featuring Jared Harris (King George VI in ‘The Crown’), which screened at the Austin, Boston Underground, LA Shorts, and London Independent film festivals. His subsequent plays Baloopa’s Journey and Hero & Zero were awarded arts council grants in England, Austria, and Lithuania. Check out Steve’s website here

Reviews

“…an incredibly literate personal tale that transcends Latin American culture, gang lifestyle, and incarceration. It’s a story of purpose and triumph, and it’s truly remarkable.” — Nick Cassavetes, filmmaker and actor (The Notebook, Alpha Dog, My Sister’s Keeper)

“Freddy’s work speaks to people . . . [He] has certainly lived a colorful life—full of darkness and light—and it is these experiences that speak to us through his work.”— Dave Navarro, guitarist (Jane’s Addiction) and host of Spike TV’s Inkmaster

“Freddy Negrete’s former life is as dark and forbidding as a thick lined skull tattoo on the face of a menacing gangbanger. This memoir by Negrete and Steve Jones is riveting and intense and I couldn’t put it down.” — Patrick O’Neil, author of Gun, Needle, Spoon.

“[Freddy Negrete] was the man who took the Chicano, black-and-gray, joint-style straight out of the prisons and to the top of the tattoo world. To this day, Freddy’s work never ceases to amaze me.” — Danny Trejo, actor (Spy Kids, From Dusk Till Dawn)

“Freddy Negrete’s story is about how even the most troubled young man has vital gifts for the world, intrinsic to who he’s meant to be, and filling a void only an artist can fill. His is the story of our time.” —Luis J. Rodriguez, author of the memoir Always Running, La Vida Loca, Gang Days in L.A., and It Calls You Back: An Odyssey Through Love, Addiction, Revolutions, and Healing

“You may think your favorite artist is an O.G. of the tattoo world. But compared with Freddy Negrete, almost everyone else is still a rookie. As one of the most experienced and influential tattoo artists in the world, Negrete was already making a name for himself before many of today’s top tattooers could walk.” — LA Weekly

“As I read this gripping memoir, I reflected on the fact that Negrete’s story is a communal one…[In] Freddy Negrete’s life, we see a truer image of Los Angeles’s past and present—a truer image of ourselves. Angelenos are finally learning to take care of their own.” — Los Angeles Review of Books

“The precision, mastery, and nuance of Negrete’s work in skin emerged from a personal history of triumph over a volatile youth. His life story is an inspirational testament to the possibilities of the human spirit.” — Don Ed Hardy, one of the fathers of modern-day tattooing.

Freddy Negrete

Bryant Park Reading Room August 2016

Freddy Negrete

Tatuaje July 2016

Freddy Negrete

Tia Chucha's Centro Cultural

Freddy Negrete

Tatuaje book launch 2016

Freddy Negrete

Steve Jones Tatuaje July 2016

Freddy Negrete

Tia Chucha reading July 2016 Freddy and Luis Rodriguez