Many people believe in preserving art because it tells important stories that should be passed down to younger generations for years to come. Tattoos, however, are only now being considered an art form by the general public.
Charles Hamm, founder of the National Association for the Preservation of Skin Art, wants to further the popular notion and wants to create a way for people to preserve them when a tattooed individual passes away, according to Vice.
The NAPSA is a nonprofit membership association for tattoo artists and enthusiasts. It costs $115 to join and has an annual fee of $60, and when an individual agrees to preserve someone’s tattoo, they receive a $2,000 allowance to cover the cost.
Hamm, an accounting official from Cleveland, Ohio, invented NAPSA as an organization dedicated to preserving tattoos for people when they die. He is a firm believer in a famous quote attributed to Johnny Depp:
“My body is my journal, and my tattoos are my story.”
Hamm is a tattooed individual and realized that his tattoos do not only mean a lot to him, but to his relatives as well. He said:
“I’m pretty much tattooed from my neck down to my waist, with the exception of a couple little spots here and there. They all have meanings to me—my grandson designed a couple, and I even had one of my business partners develop one for me. And I’m quite proud of them, they’re very big works of art—I probably have $10,000 on my back, and it is a piece of art.”
Hamm developed a process for removing the skin around a corpse’s tattoo and preserving it. He said he wants people to display the tattoos the way people keep urns of loved ones:
“Someone asked me that the other day, about hanging a tattoo on a wall, and I said, I know people who have ashes on their mantelpiece, it’s not much different to me.”
He furthered, “when you remove layers of skin, the ink pops out more, so it looks better and much brighter. It’s a phenomenal byproduct.”