|Robbie Ryan in the barber's chair at Fogtown. Photo credit: Ned Pratt|
Although several of his tattoos are done by local tattoo artist Dave Munro and others on his crew at Trouble Bound Studio in St. John's, like the menacing owl swallowing his navel, Robbie Ryan travels to conventions and far flung cities to collect images on his body by artists whose work he has admired. Ryan's collection spans historical Russian motifs, tattoo classics like the Ace of Spades and memorabilia like portraits of his father and dog –not to mention much of his body from his ears to his ankles. But his back is a blank canvas waiting for a special artist. "I don't know who yet," Ryan observes.
Robbie wears religious medals, a gold cross and a gold crucifix. Old fashioned, ornate and precious, there is a curious resonance between the religious symbolism and the collection of curling lines of ink that arch across his body. Worlds of meaning meet on his chest.
The above text is taken from my notes during my meeting with Robbie Ryan on Tuesday July 2, 2013 during a photo shoot with photographer Ned Pratt. Thanks go to Dave Munro who helped me locate Robbie, who generously agreed to "put himself out there".