Many of us keep mementoes of loved ones who’ve died, from letters they wrote to jewellery with sentimental meaning.
But given the chance, would you opt to keep a tattoo from someone after they’ve passed away?
A team of funeral directors have launched a business allowing family members to keep the tattooed skin of the deceased and display it as art.
Since launching last year, Save My Ink Forever has had hundreds of customers in the US and is now hoping to extend its client base overseas.
The business is ran by Kyle Sherwood along with his father Mike and another friend, who’s also a funeral embalmer.
The trio came up with the idea after a casual chat with friends in the funeral business about post-death keepsakes. As many in the group have tattoos, the topic came up naturally in conversation.
“All of our tattoos have deep meaning - meaning enough to put it on ourselves for life to proudly display,” Kyle told The Huffington Post UK.
“So we thought, well what happens when you die? These works of art that mean so much to the individual - and the family - are gone forever. They are either buried or cremated, never to be seen again.”
The men began to think of ways they could allow “these works of art to live on” and soon, Save My Ink Forever was born.
Kyle said he can’t share how the team preserves tattooed skin because it’s the company’s “little secret”, but he recommends families wishing to use the service should inform their funeral directer within 48 hours of the individual’s death.
The funeral director usually then contacts the business directly to arrange for the removal of the tattooed skin before the funeral takes place.
“After the removal of the tattoo, we then work on the preservation,” Kyle explained.
“The preservation process takes roughly a month-and-a-half. The preserved skin art is then placed in a frame with UV protective glass.
“The tattoo is then shipped back to the family. The whole process takes roughly two months for the family to receive the final piece.”
According to Kyle, the reasons why a person may want to keep a loved one’s tattoo vary from case to case.
“Why do some people keep locks of hair, thumbprint necklaces, ashes turned into diamond necklaces?” he asked.
“I would like to say the bottom line is out of love and having something to remember them by. Some people keep a tattoo because it was a tribute to themselves, or others in their life - for example, a husband having a tattoo with his wife’s name on it or a mum having a tattoo about her kids.”
The team can preserve tattoos ranging from simple hearts to ornate full back pieces. Prices vary depending on the size of the piece, but the cost is usually in the region of $1,000 (£795).
“If you don’t have a tattoo you will never understand how much they can mean to a person,” Kyle said.
“This isn’t for everyone, we understand that, but to some people this memorial of their loved one takes a cherished memory, or deep meaning and preserves it in time.”
To find out more, visit the Save My Ink Forever website.