A couple of different origin stories exist as to how black-and-gray tattooing ended up as one of the prominent body-art forms in SoCal, and each likely would require a book to tell. Regardless of who you believe, they'll almost definitely agree that Freddy Negrete has been there since the beginning. To hear the whole story, you'll have to head over to Mark Mahoney's Shamrock Social Club on the Sunset Strip and ask the man himself. But you can just look at his portfolio to see the impact he's had on the industry as a whole (particularly in L.A.). While some living legends have seen their work deteriorate over the last decade or so, Negrete seems to be getting better with age. Still, you'll want to get tattooed sooner rather than later, just in case he decides to hang up his needles sometime soon.
Credit: Damon Kidwell