“Storyteller” (Ee ya gee ggoon) A Photographic Journey

f7893570-83e2-4859-855f-e31581379aceFor over ten years I had wanted to get a tattoo. Or rather, for the last ten plus years I had been debating whether or not I wanted to get a tattoo. During that time I had several opportunities to get one and I would end up chickening out. I would either tell myself and my friends that I didn’t have the money for it (when I did) or that I was afraid I’d regret it or that it would cause serious health problems if not done properly. Those were the most legitimate and reasonable concerns in my eyes. Many big changes have been happening very suddenly to me in my life and immediate future. I took it as a sign that this was the right time.

I was always determined to not get a “typical” tattoo. I wanted it to be a true and unique representation of me. About two years into my tattoo contemplation, I had an amazing idea. Why not get a tattoo of the word “messenger” in Korean? Why “messenger” and why Korean? My name being Gabriel-according to the bible-makes me a “messenger.” The fact that I am a writer makes me a different kind of “messenger.” Why Korean? Because of all the Asian-inspired tattoos I saw, most were in either Chinese or Japanese and I didn’t want that. Second, because I have been a student of Tae Kwon Do for over twenty years and Tae Kwon Do is a Korean martial art.

Now wait a minute… the title of the post (and if you read Korean) the image at the top right of the post says “storyteller.” What happened there? Luckily my fiancé had a coworker who is a native Korean. When I showed him the different translation options given to me by Google translate, he confirmed my previous suspicion: Google translate cannot be trusted when it comes to a multi-layered interpretation of a word or an idea.

According to Google translate, the two translations given to me for “messenger” were either a postal worker or the soldier who delivers bad news to the parents of soldiers who died in battle… No, thanks. I could have done it phonetically too, but it would not have made any sense. To anyone.

My fiancé’s coworker suggested the compromise of “storyteller.”

Shortly after the start of my planning over a decade ago, I knew that the tattoo was always going to go on my left tricep. This way it could stay hidden by clothing in formal and professional environments and can easily be displayed proudly in more casual and athletic settings. When I saw that the translation would consist of four characters, I knew that it would be perfect regarding size and dimensions in relation to where it would go on my arm.

I did lots of research and found a vegan tattoo parlor in North Hollywood called Holistic Tattoo. You can also check out the portfolio of my artist, Josh, on his Instagram. Josh was a perfectionist. He measured the spacing between the characters, the length of my tricep to gauge the best positioning and he even did extra impressions of the stencil to make sure everything was perfect. I’ll admit I was quite nervous leading up to my appointment, but once I got there, the whole experience was great. My tattoo took just under two hours.

As promised, here are a few photos chronologically documenting the whole thing.



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