Freddy Corbin - Tattoo Age - VICE - 1 of 4

Uploaded by vice on Nov 3, 2011

FREDDY CORBIN: I always did art as a kid.
I was the kid in school that would make the poster for
brushing your teeth if the teacher
asked me to or whatever.
But I actually fell out of it for a little while.
I'd pierce my ear and get called a fag.
And my best friend was gay.
So leaving high school was the best thing that ever happened
to me because I got to be my own person and not have to
deal with getting bullied and all that other stuff.
So I started doing art a lot more once I
had left high school.
And I was really interested in punk rock, and I'd always
wanted to move to San Francisco because I would come
to Berkeley and Haight Street and was so turned on by it.
I saw beautiful people.
I saw European city style.
I saw people that were liberal thinking.
I saw freedom.

So I always knew that I'd be here.

TIM HENDRICKS: The first time I ever heard of Freddy Corbin,
I was a kid, and I was just getting into tattooing.
Breaking out in it and meeting some of the older guys.
And there was this magazine write-up.
And it said Mr. Niceguy right on the front.
And I remember seeing it and being like, who's this little
skinny guy?
This guy kills it.
Even before I got to know Freddy, if somebody asked me
hey, I'm going up to the Bay Area, and I want to get a rad
black and grey tattoo while I'm up there.
I'd be like, well, you've got to go to Temple Tattoo and get
tattooed by Freddy Corbin.
He took what he knew from learning from these old
schoolers and brought some black and grey twist on it.
He made--
I don't know man, he made a mark.
It's hard to describe.
It's not even really--
like I said, it's Freddy Corbin style.
JASON MCAFEE: I'd never seen anyone do a Day of the Dead
skull until Freddy.
When I saw one I was oh, it's those little, like, candy
sugar skull things.
As a tattoo?
And I think he definitely brought that
kind of style to tattooing.
TIM HENDRICKS: That style of doing sugar skulls had been
copied so many times that kids these days have no idea where
it came from.
FREDDY CORBIN: I mean I will say that I saw a painting of
one that Malone did before I ever did one.
So Malone probably had done one or two.
And Scott Sylvia also was doing them simultaneously.
So I think it would be safe to say, as egotistical as it
might sound only because you asked the question, that Scott
and I might have started the Day of the Dead thing.
Greys, sugar skull greys, but who knows?
I never got caught up in having a thing.
I eventually got known for doing religious tattoos and
stuff but I love doing lettering and
black and grey tattoos.
I love that whole East LA, Chicano look.
I love old English next to Jesuses next to Guadalupes and
big low rider cars.
And I love that stuff.
JASON MCAFEE: He does a lot of stuff that I love
to watch him tattoo.
I really, really like when he's about to start some big
lettering thing.
I don't think people really get what a craft that is to be
able to do lettering that good.
Watching him write something out, there's times when I'm
like, dude, I'm having trouble with this name.
Would you help me out?
And in just one pass, he'll write the most beautiful name
you've ever seen.
He's just so good with it, it's unbelievable.
FREDDY CORBIN: Basically, I was fortunate enough to work
with a guy named Hollywood, Mark in Amsterdam.
And he had gone to school with Cartoon.
They had gone to graphic art school together.
And he taught me a lot of tricks.
JASON MCAFEE: I mean, there's probably so many kids and
tattooers out there right now who don't even know who
Freddy Corbin is.
He was the young guy, but now he's become the older
He's been doing this for 27 years or something crazy.
He is that guy now that people pay respect to and have love
for and show it.
FREDDY CORBIN: Back then you had to be half a cowboy to get
into the business.
Tattoo shops drew a weird type of folk, you know what I mean?
And it was a weird type of folk that was drawn to
tattooing, especially with the stigma behind it.
So you were pretty much embracing an outcast culture.
We were all outcasts.

Do you want hop up?
FREDDY CORBIN: Let me look at them if you stand real
natural, real straight.

I think they look even.

I always was trying to be a good tattooer.
I look at tattooing like any trade.
Like being a plumber or a shoemaker, or whatever.
I just want to be good at it.
I just want to own a shop that's going to be an
institution of good tattooing so people can come and know
that no matter who's working there that day, that they'll
get a solid tattoo, they'll get treated with respect, and
they'll leave happy.
That's my goal.
MAX SCHAAF: Freddy has two shops, Temple and 13.
And Temple is the original one.
And going to Temple is like, you walk in, and you're like,
ooh, Temple.
This is a place, this is gnarly.
It's a cool place to be.
FREDDY CORBIN: It took me a while.
I had to postpone it a year.
I tried opening up in '97.
Couldn't get a place so I put it on hold and then came back.
And then in '98 opened up Temple Tattoo.

Now it's me, Heath Preheim, Jason McAfee, and Chummy
Alexanian works there part time.
Jason McAfee I met through tattooing him.
He's a super solid dude.
We clicked, and I asked him to come cover while I went to
Japan that first Tokyo convention.
JASON MCAFEE: And he randomly called me.
And I almost had a heart attack in the shop.
We all did.
Me and Chops, and Kelly Krantz and all these guys were like,
what the fuck?
How come Freddy Corbin called you?
I don't know, I met him once.
And I was like, oh my god.
Like it was meeting some famous rock star or something
for me at that time because I was so
obsessed with tattooing.
And he gave me that for my birthday couple years ago,
which is from a Tattoo Time book, it's the original.
And it was a weird, emotional thing because I'd looked at
that piece of flash forever and ever and ever
since I was a kid.
And then to be holding it and have it was like, oh my god.
I got the Tattoo Time books, and that's how I first heard
about Freddy Corbin.
They're the old books that Ed used to put out
on tattoos and stuff.
And I was probably 16.
I would look at them and see pictures of
Freddy's tattoos in there.
Something attracted me to the Freddy ones.
He's also the first young dude.
To see this young guy with all these old guys pop up and be
this little ghetto Nick Cave kind of dude.
Like cool hair, and he had diamonds in his teeth and
Mexican style frames.
MALE SPEAKER 2: Hey, how are you doing Freddy?
Look at these.
JASON MCAFEE: He was a sharp looking dude.
He wore cool jean vests with Jesus on them, and he drove
cool, old cars, and that just wasn't really happening.
HEATH PREHEIM: That's one of those names, like when is the
first time you heard Chevrolet?
I think I heard these older, punker
girls say Freddy Corbin.
And it was one of those names when you heard it where you're
like, man that's a cool name.
That dude must be cool.
And that's how it has been to this day
HEATH PREHEIM: He's one of those dudes
that has that thing.
You or I might walk into the room and be like, did you hear
I had a kid?
Did you hear I got my face tattooed?
Duke Freddy, he walks into the room and that's who he is.
You have to be, has he always had that fucking
tattoo on his face?
He's fucking cool.
TIM HENDRICKS: Especially today, you see all these
people with face tattoos and neck tattoos.
And it's like, oh, my indie band got signed.
I'm only 21, but I'm going to get my neck tattooed.
With Freddy, he's been around this for so long that he just
wears it well.
There's no one else that can wear a face
tattoo like Freddy Corbin.
HEATH PREHEIM: I never thought about it 'til right now, but I
can't picture him as a kid.
Like a 14-year-old or a 16-year-old in school reading
Catcher in the Rye.
He's always been slicked back hair, tattoos.
How are you doing bro, hey bro.
Bro is a gross word when most people say it, but when he
says it, you're like ah, yeah, bro.
JASON MCAFEE: Thanks for the birthday
vacation, working here.
FREDDY CORBIN: Oh, of course, you deserve it dude.
I told him the smartest thing he did was fucking stay home.
At home vacations are the way to go.
JASON MCAFEE: It's been nice.
HEATH PREHEIM: It's funny because Jason McAfee is one of
my best friends.
And I go by 13 every day.
It's on my route.
And Freddy lives by 13 so that's why I see him.
Can I ask you how do you feel about this neighborhood being
MALE SPEAKER 3: We need more marijuana.
FREDDY CORBIN: Oh yeah we do.
I hear that brother.
I say we never trust our government, sonny, never.
Never get the chip, never trust the president.
HEATH PREHEIM: 13 is a real fucking tattoo shop.
Everyone's good that works there.
But they're all fucking fuck-ups that
tattoo, and it's rad.
Freddy's smart enough to hire dudes that want to work.
Dudes that like to party.
Because I think that's important in tattooing.
They used to have Friday the 13th parties,
and you get $13 tattoos.
Freddy did a 13 on my butt as a joke, but that's my only
Freddy Corbin tattoo.
I was drunk, and you leave there like, god, who's going
to fucking clean this up?
What's Freddy going to think?
Freddy's going to walk in there and go, I've done that
1,000 times bro.
Did you guys have a good time?
Hey next time, don't let someone sit on my chair.
Or whatever, it's going to be that simple.
FREDDY CORBIN: I'm not really their boss.
I'm their friend, and I just happen to be their boss.
It was a free for all for a while because like I was
saying, we're all brothers so nobody wants to
rat out their brother.
And when it comes down to it, what I say goes.
And they all give me that respect and they are all
wonderful about that.
It's almost like I've had to say OK, if you're not going to
come in, you have to call me and tell me because no one's
going to rat you out.
I need to know what's going on.
I'm not going to be mad, but I kinda gotta need to know
because there's been times where someone will say oh, I
want to go down--
I'll go to send somebody up to 13 because we're busy.
That's another reason why I opened is to be our own
Tattoo 13, it was a guerilla move.
I knew that this neighborhood was going to blow up.
And I knew that--
I actually tried to open up in this neighborhood, but nobody
would rent to me.
I opened it up about a year and a half
after I opened up Temple.
It was premature.
I knew that it was premature, but I went for it.
And it worked out really well.
I'm glad I didn't listen to anybody.
OK, bye, you guys.

HEATH PREHEIM: I mean, our economy is fucked right now,
but they're tattooing every day there.
Jason's got a kid and an ex-wife.
And he's gotta handle his business and still party and
have a good time.
And he can do that working for Freddy.
Freddy opened Temple 13 years ago.
So Jason was there from the beginning.
JASON MCAFEE: I've seen the shop go through so many insane
changes, it's pretty nuts.
Freddy was the first white guy on this whole block.
When I first started working here, everyone
thought I was him.
I would go to the store, and they'd like Freddy, what's up?
And I was like oh, I'm not Freddy.
He popped up in the middle of this area and people were just
like, what the fuck?
Downtown Oakland used to be totally different.
FREDDY CORBIN: This is actually after we had been
open, and the windows got busted out from the protests
from Oscar Grant getting shot.
HEATH PREHEIM: I'd tell someone next to me on the
airplane, I'm from Oakland. "Oh, god." That's what
everyone thinks of Oakland.
He could have opened a shop in San Francisco.
Man, I get choked up thinking about him making that decision
because Oakland means so much to me.
But he chose to open a shop downtown.
That neighborhood, when he did it, was way cutty.
We'd skateboard there on weekends because there's no
businesses down there.
No one wants to be down there.
There's no reason to be down there.
FREDDY CORBIN: I don't want to say it was a huge ghetto, you
know what I mean?
But it was crack head heaven.
So there isn't really a reason to come over,
you know what I mean?
But I've worked in so many low income areas and
was cool with that.
Plus I knew it made sense that with San Francisco blowing up
the way it was, like Manhattan, people have to
migrate east.
HEATH PREHEIM: The weed places and all that shit are there
now because of him or because someone had to pave the way.
And Freddy was the dude that--
it probably was the price, probably how the space was
shaped, he knew he could fit everyone in there.
But had enough foresight to say, this is the spot.
FREDDY CORBIN: This is some early Temple, Temple Tattoo,
Oakland tattooing.
"Fuck the world, I'm a killer, you just don't know it yet."
This was this little Crip kid that I had covered up BK on
and put his family's name on him and stuff like that.
Even though I'm not really into violence or whatever, I
love that whole East LA gangster imagery.
I've always been really, really attracted to it.
And that's why I've always really liked working in places
like Philly, or Oakland, or Sacramento, where there's a
bunch of kids from the hood getting tattooed.
I could do tattoos like that all day for weeks and not be
bummed out about it at all, you know?
Anywhere there's a low income area, you knew it.
You'd do pit bulls, you'd do grim reapers.
You'd do cash money maker, you'd do money signs.
Fuck the world, the world with the fuck you finger
busting out of it.
Playboy bunny ring, shit like that.
I think it's hilarious.
I love doing it too.
It's cool shit.