It’s been a while since my last collaboration with Justin, but look what we have in store for you…
Freddy Corbin is one of our favourite people, and I hope that by reading this interview you can understand why! Justin from @americanatattoos and I have interviewed Freddy, also known as Mr. Nice Guy, talking about tattoos, hip hop culture, nowadays society and again..tattoos.
I am really proud to present you some good thoughts and opinions. Thank you so much Freddy, you rule!
J. Some people are tattooers for life, they live and breathe tattooing ‘til their last breath and others will change their path. Will you be tattooing ‘til the very end?
MOST DEFINITELY!! I enjoy doing other things too.
But I will always tattoo as long as the hands will go.
I. What do you think about nowadays tattoo society, compared to when you began tattooing?
That question is too big to answer. Let’s just say: no cell phones, pre pager! No internet, no cartoons and movies on the road. I’m from the Walkman -Atari era. Let’s say pong and tanks era haha, it was amazing! Not as international. But Kid thru the 70s, I started high school in 80s. And I started tattooing in 87′.
I. The first time you tattooed someone. What do you remember about that first experience?
That it was a punkish skull with an anarchy symbol in the forehead. After hours at Erno tattoo. Lower haight SF.
I. What does art mean to you?
It’s everything. And I’m just stumbling thru. But the masters use this as an outlet for politics. Social movements. Music. Windows into people’s minds. Different realms. Almost infinite.
I. Pros and Cons of the power of Social Media associated to the tattoo community?
It helps people get noticed and is a good way to promote your artwork. Visions in anything really, if you can work the equipment.
The one thing that’s cool about the Internet is that everyone gets the same chance.
J. What is your fav news source?
Well favorite not sure. But if I’m looking for the truth I go to Matt Drudge. Then cross reference with some others.
I. What artist did you get tattooed by?
In the beginning Erno, Higgs, Henry Goldfield, Ed Hardy.
J. What comes to mind when I say Ed Hardy?
Bootlegged ghetto ass, flea market , jeans from China.
I. What do you love the most about getting tattooed?
I. I watched many of your video interviews, I loved the one where you specified that we shouldn’t use the word ‘ink’ to talk about tattoos! And what do you think about the word ‘trend’ associated to tattoo art?
The word “trend” is as relevant as any other. Any tattooer that’s been tattooing 20 or more years would definitely tell you that tattooing is “on fire” “trendy” as ever!
J. After the Vice video and reading your interviews, it’s easy to see why people call you Mr. Nice Guy. Who do you think you inherited that gene from?
Not sure. Maybe my dad?
J. Your Instagram videos are the best. We need more of those, would you ever consider creating your own podcast?
Not really I don’t have the time. I’m just a wanna be closet , short film maker. If there was anything else I’ve had a desire to do in my life is to make films. Short to start I guess. Thanks for liking. I get mixed reviews. But so stoked we hit a minute now. Making a lil short in 15 seconds was challenging.
I. What artist did you get tattooed by? Can you tell us which one was your first tattoo?
The first one is one I did by hand that was a copy of a Leo Zulueta tattoo. I loved his stuff! The black sacred hearts! Felt ethnic. Decorative. Powerful. I love black tattoos. And even just black and grey tattoos. The list of who I’ve been tattooed by would just seem like I’m bragging haha.
J. Temple and Tattoo13 are carrying on a tradition that runs deep, tattooing in Oakland California, RESPECT! Your crews at each shop have been with you for a long time. How important are they to you?
The world!! Couldn’t do it without them. We’re family. And a lot of the guys have been with me more than a decade and way more. Almost 2 in some cases. Sure. I could hire other people and do this. But it’s like a good soup. You need the right folks. Some wild some shy.
We all have different strengths. And share common threads as well.
J. Ok, besides the crews at Temple and 13, name some of your favorite tattooers right now.
Jondix and Thomas Hooper! I love what those guys are doing and I’m also a beyond huge fan of Filip Leu! There are amazing tattooers I’ve never heard of, I’m sure. But I love Robert Ryan’s tattoos, Anderson Luna, Matt Arriola – Cheyenne Sawyer, Obviously Ben Grillo, Scott Teide from 7doors.
J. Who is the most famous person you have tattooed, or rather – did you tattoo Tupac haha?
No I didn’t lol. Wish I did. And I’ve heard a few times that I have haha. That’s fine with me if people wanna believe it lol. Love 2pac. I guess the answer would be Tommy Lee from the Crüe as far as most people in the world would know who he was.
J. Where do you feel most at peace?
Oakland, my home, the tattoo shops Temple and 13.
J. What is your favorite place on this planet?
Working in the yard at my house on a day when I don’t have to do anything else other than that, and my man cave.
Justin. What’s your spirit animal?
J. What was your proudest professional moment?
The anniversary party for Temple Tattoo! Heath had just come aboard and the 13 crew was right and we had just gutted and remodeled the shop.
J. When your heading into work, what are you driving and what are you listening to?
Either a BMW wagon with NPR and the news or a 66 Chevy Malibu bumpin Richie Rich.
J. What happened to hip hop?
The same thing that happened to punk, motorcycles and tattooing. Something that gave so much wonderful positive power to American black culture. Was bought up. Packaged and sold back to us. Seems the focus was on super shallow values, materialism instead of knowledge, and lots of ASS. So that’s fun and all. But not what Africa Bambaataa, or the grand masters set out to do. There is still a couple of good ones that are on righteous paths. I loved hip hop. It was the next punk rock. I saw Public Enemy’s first time to California. LL cool J’s radio tour. Schooly D, Run DMC in the late 80s. It was awesome.
J. Favorite movie?
That’s a really tough one! Because I’m a big film buff so Maltese Falcon would be one. Apocalypse Now would be another. Favorite directors are John Houston, Stanley Kubrick, Coppola, Scorsese, and of course Alejandro Jodorowsky.
J. Of all your world travels, what monument, country, or moment changed your life?
Maa ganga in Varanasi (mother Ganges) and Bodh Gaya where the Buddha sat for 30 day fast. The bodhi tree temple complex.
Ilaria and Justin. What kind of advices would you give to the youngest tattoo collectors/lovers? And to your son (when he will grow up)?
It all depends on what your economic demographic is. If you are privileged or hard working and can save, sure! Fly around the world and get tattooed by whoever turns you on!
I’m also a fan of finding people close to you.
But I’ve been spoiled by living near the cutting edge of tattooing. So save some good real estate, you’ll meet someone down the line you’ll like and wanna get tattooed by. I could write a list as long as who I have that I would love one. But I’m filled!! I got a FEW left. So: save some real estate for the future, because there will be new styles that come that you might like. About my son. I have no idea! Who fucking knows. He probably won’t even want a tattoo. And I wouldn’t sway him towards it at all. Unless he wants one. As of now, he doesn’t want any tattoos.