I saw this hannya mask outside of Penn Station and went up to talk to its host, Ian Jones, a Long Islander waiting for a train.
Despite a light rainfall, we chatted for ten minutes or so about his tattoos and the stories behind them.
Since the advent of Tattoosday, participants' reactions to the project range from total disinterestedness to moderate amusement. Ian, however, took it a notch higher, to the point of downright enthusiasm. He sounded sincere in his appreciation for the blog (and the idea behind it), and I got the impression that he would have let me take pictures of each tattoo, had time and weather permitted.
The big piece that first drew my attention was the colorful half-sleeve on his left bicep. The hanyya masks are traditional elements in Japanese tattooing styles, and he has two masks representing good and evil.
This tattoo, about ten hours worth of work so far, was done by Kristen at Artful Ink Tattoo Studio, in Bohemia, on Long Island. He noted that it was also a cover-up of a "bad sparrow and flower".
Ian says he gets the most questions about his Volkswagen logo on the inside of his right wrist.
He explains why he got an automotive emblem on such a prominent spot: he's always loved German engineering and has always had VW vehicles. His first car was a VW Eurovan, but his second car, a VW GTI 2-door hatchback, was what cemented his love of Volkswagens for life.
Ian told me how he was in his GTI when he was in a horrible crash. The other vehicle was purportedly going 100 MPH and Ian is convinced that the VW's structural shell protected him from critical injuries.
As a tribute to the GTI, and as an expression of his love of Volkswagen, he had the VW logo inked on his shifting arm (he now drives a VW Jetta) as a reminder of his survival from such a harrowing experience.
His left arm sports two tattoos:
There is Long Island on the forearm and a star on his inner wrist. The star was inked the same time as the VW logo to provide balance, but it grew to take on a more important meaning. It's a reminder symbol about a friend of his who is in the Marines.
The VW and star were inked by his friend and bandmate Tony Coffins at Resonance Tattoo, also on Long Island (Center Moriches). Ian and Tony are in a band, Phoenix Rise, together. See their MySpace page here and listen to them play.
The tattoo of Long Island, which Ian admits is not done that well (although I would say at least looks like Long Island), is nonetheless, still near and dear to his heart. Ian was adopted when he was a baby, and he feels that he could have ended up anywhere, and Long Island was his home. He is proud to be a Long Islander, and thus wears this as a badge of honor.
Thanks to Ian for his enthusiasm for Tattoosday, and let's hope we see more of his ink here in the future!