A tattoo artist is offering a macabre new service to clients – removing and framing pieces of inked skin after they DIE.
Save My Ink involves skin being cut off the body of deceased and preserved as a lasting reminder for relatives.
It is put through a chemical and enzymatic process to permanently alter the chemical structure of the tissue and stop it from decaying.
According to Save My Ink, the process allows tattoo enthusiasts to bequeath an actual part of themselves “just like a house, wedding ring or any other cherished possession”.
So far the service, which was officially launched in America last week, has successfully preserved 21 tattoos – with 100 per cent accuracy.
Charles Hamm, 60, founder of Save My Ink, also known as the National Association for the Preservation of Skin Art, said they hope to serve tattoo enthusiasts worldwide.
Former financial advisor Charles, of Cleveland, USA, set up the association after realising how much time and money he had put into his tattoos.
He said: “I have over 150 hours of tattoo work on me, and I have almost covered my entire upper-body, excluding my neck and face.
“When I was getting more tattoo work completed on my back piece, a 10,000 dollar investment, I began considering all of the money and time I had put into my tattoos.
“You would never burn a Picasso or any piece of art you invested in and had a passion for. Your tattoo is also art with a unique story, just on a different canvas.”
“I had also read an article in which Johnny Depp stated his intent to have his tattoos preserved, and it all inspired me to begin fully developing Save My Ink.”
Charles said he perfected the process by practicing on tattooed bits of skin he had removed during plastic surgery after he lost a lot of weight.
“I asked the plastic surgeon to mark where this procedure would take place, and I then informed him that I would have tattoos put on those spots.
“He removed the tattoos, the process on those pieces worked, and we were ready to go.
“Now, we have a growing gallery with tattoos from passed-away members.”
The unique process is only available to members, who must pay a registration fee of 115 dollars and annual fees of 60 dollars before registering a tattoo for preservation.
After they die, relatives have 18 hours to inform Save My Ink, who post a removal kit with instructions and prepaid return packaging to the funeral home.
The tattoo is removed within 60 hours by the embalmer and sent back to Save My Ink, who return the art to the family within three to six months.
Only living people can opt to have their tattoos removed after they die, and the association refuses to remove inked skin from the face or genitalia.
Charles said: “I already have a number of tattoos registered for preservation.
“A lot of my tattoos have deep meaning to me. I have memorial pieces for family members who have passed, and my grandson has designed a few of my tattoos.
“My tattoos define who I am and share my love for both family and art.
“The gorilla on my chest represents me guarding my wife, so that is obviously going to her.”
“My grandson designed one of my lizard tattoos, so he will receive that, and my children have tattoos registered for them to receive as well.
“While we do only carry out the tattoo preservation benefit in the US at the current moment, we do hope to eventually expand that globally.
“The community section of our website, which includes a photo gallery, artist profiles, and news content, features artists and work from all over the world.
“People from all over the world are welcome to become a member and enjoy the other benefits our association is offering.”