For one Irish expat living in New York, a tattoo of his musical icon Phil Lynott, that took ten years to come to fruition, is a surefire way for him to celebrate his roots and heritage.
For those well versed in rock n’ roll, the late Phil Lynott needs no introduction.
The raspy-voiced singer of Thin Lizzy inspired many people with his attitude, talent, and spirit.
His influence is particularly poignant for Neil Collins, a 27-year-old Roscommon native currently living and working in New York. An avid fan of tattoos, Collins chose to have the singer’s image inked on him as a nod to Ireland and the oft rebellious souls that inhabit it.
“The inspiration for this one has been in the works for over ten years,” Collins told IrishCentral.com.
“When I was 16 and going through the confusion of the teenage years I discovered quality rock'n roll. The effect it had on me and my friends was really, really powerful, it became a very central part of our identity. Bands like the Dire Straits, AC-DC, Jimi Hendrix, Rory Gallagher, The Beatles, Pink Floyd, The Rolling Stones, and Thin Lizzy became the sound of choice.”
“The quality of the musicianship, the melodies, the story telling, the attitude and the style consumed me and my friends. I'll never forget walking side by side with my friends through the corridors in school between classes, each of us with our headphones plugged in. It brought us massive joy.”
Collins says that there was something about Thin Lizzy’s Phil Lynott that captured his attention from the get-go.
“There was something about Phil Lynott I really related too, I just loved him and I felt similar to him, for some reason. This is strange to say, but Phil Lynott sort of became my friend and his music my companion. I felt from an early stage listening to his music that Phil had a lot of rebellion in him, an anger. But through it, he was an incredibly charming and down to earth kind of guy. He was very relaxed and just appreciated who he was and most importantly, where he was from. The way he spoke of Dublin and Ireland was really striking to me. I learned a lot about him, his upbringing, his struggles, his genius, his mother!"
Collins, who works in the fashion industry and is well known as a former GAA star for Roscommon, also regards Lynott as a prevailing style icon.
“His masculinity, his style, his smoothness and his charm engrossed me, and I sort of saw him as someone I would like to be more like. I have a collection of imagery on my computer with all the different outfits and accessories he wore.”
To commemorate Lynott as a “symbol of rebellion, passion, style, and nationalism”, Collins went about the process of finding a tattoo artist who could accurately represent his vision.
“I actually went to an artist two years ago to get Phil tattooed on me and when I saw his vision for how he wanted the tattoo to look, it appalled me and I walked out of the shop. He didn’t get it at all and I knew he didn’t understand my passion. I felt that it was just gonna be another tattoo for him,” Collins explained.
By a stroke of luck, he came across the artist Zlata Kolomoyskaya during his search.
“I actually cannot remember though where I found Zlata, but when I did I absolutely loved her work. I have a very particular style I like - realism, black and white, gentle craft but powerful concept. This was her style and I loved it. She is a really precise, cool artist. Very picky about what she will tattoo.”
Collins joined a hefty waitlist but after a few months, his patience was rewarded.
“The Irish identity is important for me, and specifically my Roscommon identity,” he added. “The tattoo is reflective of that, but it’s only a small part of a bigger idea. I feel very proud to be Irish and from Roscommon, I really do. I can't explain it, but it is a huge part of my identity and something that I really push forward and talk about. I felt Phil was very proud of who he was and where he came from also. I feel being Irish is a superpower, so it is at the forefront of everything I feel I am.”
Follow Collins on Instagram here.