Talk to anyone who’s gotten a tattoo, and chances are they’ll say their ink is a meaningful work of art. In light of a reported rise in the popularity of tattoos, a Cleveland-based nonprofit for the tattoo community has announced a new service to preserve those works of art— long after the bodies that hosted them are laid to rest.
The National Association for the Preservation of Skin Art (NAPSA)— a group of tattoo enthusiasts, artists and advocates— announced Tuesday, Sept. 1 that it would start offering members the option to preserve their tattoos post mortem and designate a beneficiary for their art.
“We want to provide resources and support [our members] may not otherwise have access to,” Charles Hamm, NAPSA executive director and chairman of the group’s board, said in the news release, which references a 2012 Harris Interactive poll that suggests one in five American adults has at least one tattoo, a 14 percent increase from the Nielsen group’s 2008 survey.
According to the release, removing a tattoo from one of its member’s deceased bodies involves “a chemical and enzymatic process that permanently alters the chemical structure, thus permanently fixing it against decomposition (while preserving the integrity of the art).” The group said the final product isn’t classified as tissue and isn’t toxic.
“This process rejuvenates the art and brings it back to essentially its original look,” the group said in the release.
The tattoo removal process begins within 18 hours of a member passing, whereby the designated beneficiary alerts NAPSA, which sends paperwork and a package with the removal kit to the member’s funeral home overnight. Within 60 hours, a mortician that agrees to participate follows provided instructions to remove the tattoo, placing it in a nontoxic, temporary preservation compound, and returns it to the NAPSA. The organization then preserves the art and sends it to the beneficiary, who receives a certificate for his or her participation, within six months.
To encourage beneficiaries to comply with the deceased's wishes and follow through on the preservation process, NAPSA also offers a $2,000 cash benefit for members ages 18 to 49 or $1,000 for members ages 50 and older at the time of registration.
NAPSA’s $115 initiation fee and $60 annual fee allows for the free preservation of one tattoo. Each additional preserved tattoo costs $100, depending on size, according to the release.
The group said there’s no limit on the number, size or location of tattoos that a member can have removed, as long as he or she consents personally and is at least 18 years old, and as long as the tattoo is not on the face or genitalia.
“You would never burn a Picasso or any piece of art you invested in and had a passion for,” Hamm said in the release. “Your tattoo is also art with a unique story, just on a different canvas.”