The National Association for the Preservation of Skin Art (NAPSA) is a nonprofit organization that allows people to preserve their tattoos after they die. Much like a photo or a painting, the tattoo is sealed in a frame. The “work of art” is then given to the deceased’s loved ones, who then hang it up on the wall for display.
It’s certainly not for everyone. In fact, most people find it creepy. But Charles Hamm, founder of NAPSA, doesn’t think it is any creepier than keeping someone’s cremated remains.
“I know people who have ashes on their mantelpiece, it’s not much different to me,” Hamm said in an interview with Vice. “In fact, in my mind, this is a much better thing to look at, because when you see that tattoo, you have a clear remembrance of that person that you loved.”
A tattooed man himself, Hamm claims to have about $10,000 worth of art on his body. He first came up with the idea when pondering his own death and lamenting the fact that all of his tattoos would someday be gone.
“I sat around, really thinking about that. Someday I’m going to pass away and I’m sure I’ll be cremated and it’ll all vanish into the air. I just didn’t think that was right. So I got together a bunch of people in the industry; we talked a lot about it, spent a great deal of time trying to put this together, and we developed a process [to preserve tattoos],” Hamm stated.
Hamm offered himself up as the initial guinea pig. He reached out to a plastic surgeon who was willing to remove a couple of his tattoos. The procedure went well and Hamm was able to successfully preserve the skin.
For those who are interested (or otherwise curious about the cost) there’s a $115 NAPSA membership fee plus an additional $60 in yearly dues. In return, beneficiaries will receive a $2,000 stipend to help cover the costs of preserving the tattoo.