Freddy Corbin: The Tattoo Artist of Oakland

Freddy Corbin moved from Sacramento, where he had grown up, to San Francisco when he was 18 to become a tattoo artist. He was born in Tampa, Florida, in 1966. At Lyle Tuttle’s shop, Joshua Golden gets him his first tattoo as a professional. In 1987, Corbin got his break, apprenticing for two years under Erno Szabady, after spending a lot of time visiting studios and getting body art from various people with the aim of breaking into the field. It was in 1989 that he met Ed Hardy, who eventually put him to work with Bill Salmon at the Realistic studio.

Corbin has been in the tattoo industry for over 30 years, and his specialty is black-and-grey artwork, including typography and religious icons. The sugar skull tattoos, which take their inspiration from Mexico, were made famous by him and artist Scott Sylvia. He uses tiny needles and beautiful ink to make permanent tattoos of religious symbols like the names of Jesus and Mary and other saints, as well as holy hearts and crosses. Corbin is the brains behind two of Oakland’s most renowned tattoo shops, Temple Tattoo (established in 1998) and Tattoo 13 (established in 2000), which have generated a lot of buzzes and provided opportunities for local and visiting artists alike. Freddy Corbin moved to Sacramento as a child, then to San Francisco when he was 18 to become a tattoo artist. He was born in Tampa, Florida, in 1966. At Lyle Tuttle’s shop, Joshua Golden gets him his first tattoo as a professional. Corbin spent a lot of time in studios and acquired tattoos from a wide variety of people until he got his break in 1987 and apprenticed for two years with Erno Szabady. After meeting Ed Hardy in 1989, he was hired to work alongside Bill Salmon at Realistic studio.

Freddy Corbin

Corbin has been tattooing for more than three decades, and his specialty is black-and-grey artwork, including letters and religious icons. The sugar skull tattoos, which take their inspiration from Mexico, were made famous by him and artist Scott Sylvia. He uses tiny needles and beautiful ink to make permanent tattoos of religious symbols like the names of Jesus and Mary, as well as holy hearts and crosses. Corbin is the brains behind two of Oakland’s most renowned tattoo shops, Temple Tattoo (established in 1998) and Tattoo 13 (established in 2000), which have generated a lot of buzzes and provided opportunities for local and visiting artists alike.

Sons of Anarchy (2008-2014) Was Fantastic. You Designed the Logo for the Biker Club Cuts. What Was It Like Working on a Tv Series?

The best male soap opera ever. Since I wasn’t physically there on set, there wasn’t much of a difference between this and previous work I’d done. Since I knew both the producer John Linson and one of the performers, David Labrava, he phoned me and said, “Hey, we’re not really loving what we’re receiving from the art department. “Could you sketch me something?” So when I drew for them, it was more of a favor than anything else, presented by my pals, and John brought it to the screenwriter/director Kurt Sutter and asked, “Hey, what do you think of this?” There was no discussion of payment or whether or not they would use it. So much so that he adopted it and began employing it. Following that, they handed me a check for a nominal amount.

You Do Religious Tattoos (Mainly Christian Art). When Did You Choose Religious Art as Your Theme?

The early 1990s, if I had to estimate. It wasn’t something I was able to do frequently. A lot of Christian art can be dull, but I adore Roman Catholic things, so I made a lot of holy hearts and not as many of the Blessed Mother or Jesus. I can’t quite put my finger on what it is, but I really enjoy it.

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