Tattoos can be very meaningful and hold a lot of sentimental value to both the owner and their loved ones.
Over the course of a lifetime some people can spend thousands inking their bodies and one mortician is now offering a controversial service to turn tattoos into ‘fine art’.
Michael Sherwood, from Cleveland, gives grieving families the option after a death of keeping the tattooed skin as parchment-like artwork they can hang in their homes in remembrance.
It all started a few years ago when Michael and his son Kyle were having a few drinks with their friends and they got on to the topic of how much tattoos mean to people.
Being the go-to guys for death related questions, one of Michael’s friends told him he would like his tattoo preserved when he passes, as reported by 9news.com.au .
The dad and son team laughed it off at first but when their friend pushed his idea, they began to give it real consideration.
“With the art in tattoos and how much they mean to people, why not keep them after they die?” said Kyle.
“People put ashes in urns on mantles and visit stones with their loved one’s names on them. Why not keep their tattoos as a memorial?”
From bar banter chat over a beer, the ‘Save My Ink Forever’ service was born.
Kyle explained the ‘lengthy process’ takes three to four months and is started within 72 hours of the person’s death, with the tattoo being ‘excised’ at the funeral home.
They say the process doesn’t interfere with traditional viewing or cremation and is done with the usual standard of dignity and respect – although they draw the line at preserving face and genital tattoos.
The good news for families who choose to hang the inkings on their walls is that there is ‘no maintenance’ and the skin should be treated ‘as you would fine art’.
‘Save My Ink Forever’ has received some backlash – with the pair even being compared to Ed Gein, a murderer notorious for making clothes and masks from his victim’s bodies.
Michael and Kyle instead focus on the wishes on the loved one’s family, although they have had to knock back requests to make lamp shades and book covers from the skin.
“We are helping families and fulfilling their last wishes,” Kyle added. “We are not trying to create a freakshow.”