What's Black And Gray And Inked All Over? : Code Switch Black-and-gray tattoos have become increasingly popular over the last four decades. But many people don't realize that the style has its roots in Chicano art, Catholic imagery and "prison ingenuity." (Yes, they were called Prison-Style tattoos for a reason.) Freddy Negrete, a pioneer in the industry, started tattooing fellow inmates in the early 1970s. And while he's no longer tatting people up with guitar strings and ballpoint pens, he's still using some of the same techniques he mastered back in the day.
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What's Black And Gray And Inked All Over?

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What's Black And Gray And Inked All Over?

What's Black And Gray And Inked All Over?

What's Black And Gray And Inked All Over?

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/611306395/611471629" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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Black-and-gray tattoos have become increasingly popular over the last four decades. But many people don't realize that the style has its roots in Chicano art, Catholic imagery and "prison ingenuity." (Yes, they were called Prison-Style tattoos for a reason.) Freddy Negrete, a pioneer in the industry, started tattooing fellow inmates in the early 1970s. And while he's no longer tatting people up with guitar strings and ballpoint pens, he's still using some of the same techniques he mastered back in the day.

Negrete's son Isaiah, showing off one of the many tattoos his dad inked. Shereen Marisol Meraji/NPR hide caption

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Shereen Marisol Meraji/NPR

Negrete's son Isaiah, showing off one of the many tattoos his dad inked.

Shereen Marisol Meraji/NPR