Freddy Negrete former gang member, black and gray tattoo artist, addictions counsellor and author of “smile now cry later” telling us a little bit about his life story.
In the 70s we introduced a father tattooing that’s come to be known as black and grey realism, it happens to be one of the more popular designs of tattooing worldwide. I think a big part of people’s recovery is when they get tattoo work, there can be a thing where people can get almost addicted to tattooing pain and it’s a release. If you have a good tattoo experience you know you have a good artist, there’s a beautiful piece in it.
Going in the right direction has been a lifelong journey for me. I was young when my parents passed away, I grew up in foster care, and they beat us a lot and other stuff, that drove me into joining a gang and running away from that foster homes. I was really involved with the gang activity and ended up spending most of my juvenile life behind bars. As a youngster I said I would never do that, I would never be like that, the whole idea of sticking a needle in my arm and stuff like that. I became older guy and ended up a heroin addict as well.
Inside I participate in CGA meetings, that’s coming on gangsters anonymous. A lot of guys end up drug addicts, alcoholics, a lot of people get their lives together. From my neighborhood the first Saturday of every month all the old timers get together for a breakfast you know and there’s about 50 of us and we’re all survivors you know. Most of the guys are in recovery. Most of the guys are working a program and the rest of them are Christian born again Christians. I never really got out of my gang, I’m still where I am and where I’m from. And now I focus on positive things and it’s good to see all these older homeboys of mine that we used to run around and do crazy things and they change their lives together and they’re doing positive acts.
The book is a very candid portrait of my life, it talks about your life changing when you get clean and out of whatever life you were living, the story then seems to turn to connections, back to family connections and back to a community. The real subject of my book is a story of redemption and changing your life. I would say that I was as low as I could go with no help while in jail, I made a commitment to sobriety and God changed my life in the most amazing way.