“Portal” Tattoo

If you’ve followed my journey into the world of permanent body art, I’ve been slowly adding to my collection over the years.

5 years ago I put together a Hello World on my leg:

And two years ago in 2017 I designed this:

Now, it’s time to introduce the portal to my left-arm. Here’s a quick story in pictures! Initially inspired by this design that we had created for my company’s new branding and I realized that it represented a big part of who I am and how I operate.

via YEN Brand 2019

This idea of a “portal” to another world is exactly the design convention that we were after:

I love this little overview:

In order to enter the Yeniverse, one must go through the portal.

I took this idea and came up with a simple “doorway” design:

Trying to keep things simple.

Then we moved this to some digital tools:

That Adobe Photoshop though.

Per usual, I like to give my artist a bit of creative freedom at the point of execution and so he added some depth, additional shading, and also some “cracks” in the doorway.

Sometimes that creative freedom unlocks some real inspiration that creates a very neat, net-positive outcome; sometimes, it doesn’t:

I left his studio with this design in early October and sat with it for about a month while I let my skin heal and as I considered how I felt about this first iteration. Ultimately, I decided to move back to my original design, which was über simple (the original):

Filling it in didn’t require much time, although, it was quite painful.

Done and done.


So… you might be thinking, “Why this design? Is there any meaning behind this?” Of course there is.

I do my best to live an integrated life — meaning, I don’t try to isolate or compartmentalize my life into buckets or themes or groups. For instance, most folks divide their lives into a professional bucket and a personal one and the way they talk, act, and behave are oftentimes different depending on the context.

To be clear, I’m not necessarily criticizing that perspective and way of life — to each his own, naturally. If you maximally operate through strategic and tactical compartmentalization… kudos to you! I’ve never been very good at that.

But… after talking about this with many folks, I’ve discovered that most people spend far too much energy building a variety of different personalities, personas, and even “playbooks” for being authentic in all of these different contexts.

That’s a lot of work and it feels like a colossal waste of time. Just sayin’.

Still a little healing left to be done.

Consequently, WYSIWYG all-the-things. When you meet me, either IRL or in a digital world, what you see is what you get. This means that you’re going to get “me” in all of it’s glory, the good, the bad, the ugly and the very, very, very messy.

In short, I wear my heart on my proverbial sleeve and it’s one of the few things that I’m learning to love intensely about myself. It might even be a super-power, if I think about it in that way.

That’s why the “portal” concept resonates so deeply with me — want a peak into my soul? The door is wide open. Let’s chat about what you might find down there. Want to talk about difficult, heart-level matters with me? I’m always down for that. Let’s go.

Life isn’t complex, but a lot of us make it that way. I’m not sure why we do that. You see, a big part of growing up, at least for me, is being able to love everything about myself, even the very things that may end up causing pain for those that I love and respect the most.

I believe that even those parts are redeemable. And, at the very least, we should be able to talk about them plainly, honestly, and openly. I suppose that’s the trouble of giving your heart away to others.

A window or “portal” to my soul is part of who I am, regardless of the people or projects that are currently in my life, especially the ones that are closing down:

Big things have small beginnings.

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