Interview by Kore Flatmo
Kore Flatmo: Yeah, and growing up, you must have seen a lot of Jack and Freddy’s work too.
Chente Rios: Yeah, my dad gets tattooed by Freddy, well, when they were young.
And Mike Brown from the 80s?
Yeah, all them. My dad has work from the Pike, Good Time Charlie’s. I’ve been around this since I was a kid; watching all of this unfold. I grew up in East L.A. right around the corner from Good Time Charlie’s…
What do you think about that lineup in the late 80s? You’ve got Jack, Mike Brown, Mark Mahoney comes through. I think Gill was there for a while. Then you got Charlie keepin’ ‘em all in line and running the show. What an amazing shop! That gathering of people… Maybe in 20 years, we’ll all look back at your shop and say, “Look at all those guys that worked together.”
That’s the way I kind of already feel when I was at Ink Slingers. We had a good little family going and we were tight. Every day it was unspoken competition. We’d look at each other and we’d be tattooing like, “Oh yeah, well look at this one!” We wouldn’t say it but we’d be thinking it.
That’s healthy competition.
That’s what made everybody really good, really fast.
Tommy is ridiculously good. I saw that guy and I couldn’t believe it.
Yeah, Tommy, that’s another one of my guys that I look up to.
And he’s fast too, right?
Yeah, he’s super-fast. That made us all fast. He got that directly from Tim, ‘cause Tim’s fast. He learned that directly off him and it kind of trickled down and somehow it got to me. But he’s another big inspiration. I got a lot of love for Tommy.
There are exciting days ahead for him too, huh?
I think he’s going to become a household name here in about six months.
He is. He’s that guy though. I think they oughta put a camera in front of him ‘cause he’s a riot.
Yeah, he’s a natural for TV?
I’m just happy to know there are gonna be good tattooers on there. That’s all I wanted. If you’re gonna do the shows, make sure we have the high quality stuff. I looked atMiami Ink and I saw Garver and I was like, “Cool.”
That’s another one of my big, big inspirations, Chris Garver.
He’s such a generous guy; generous in his support and not afraid to acknowledge other people. Again, I think that’s a common trait among the good ones. They’re not so afraid that they can’t let you do your thing. In fact, they can even acknowledge when it’s good, right? A lot of guys, they’ll see your work and if it’s really good, they’ll just get angry where as Chris would go, “Great for you.”
He’s phenomenal though.
Oh, he’s one of my all time favorites. I always put him up there. But Jack influenced everyone, so I’m sure he’s up there?
Jack Rudy, Freddy Negrete… Both of them are definitely up there. I look at my dad’s work 30 years later and it’s still crisp and clean to this day. Even Freddy looks at it sometimes and it trips him out.
Chente Rios can be found at Under The Gun Ink in Los Angeles, CA.