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How Your Tattoos Can Live on After You're Dead

Not everyone can achieve the permanence in the medium of tattooing of legendary tattoo artist Norman Collins, better known as “Sailer Jerry.” Sure, the ink is permanently under your skin, but eventually, you do die, and the art many display during life will deteriorate and decompose.

Fortunately, there’s the National Association for the Preservation of Skin Art. They’re exactly what they sound like.

NAPSA is an organization that will help remove and preserve tattoos for posterity after someone dies. Forty percent of Americans ages 18-34 have at least one tattoo, according to a 2019 Ipsos poll. That’s a lot of history and a lot of storytelling that could be lost to the grave.

When people sign up with NAPSA, they’re added to a registry to have their survivors contacted as soon as possible upon their demise. Within hours, NAPSA sends a preservation kit to their family, who in turn provides it to the mortician who will remove, preserve and package the tattooed skin.

When NAPSA receives the sample from the mortician’s office, the organization finishes the processing and preservation of the skin so it develops a parchment-like feel and look. Then NAPSA frames it and sends it back to the deceased’s family as a keepsake to preserve the memory and meaning of the art.

The best tattoos have meaning and intent tied to their creation. They’re the original, commissioned work of art of a talented creator as well as a symbol to the bearer of a feeling, time or sentiment in their lives. As art, shouldn’t tattoos live on in true permanence to be enjoyed forever? That way, they become part of someone else’s story and live on. Thanks to NAPSA, some of those stories will never die.


Cleveland, OH, USA

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