Starting at around $1600 a tattoo, the pair will preserve and frame the artwork of the deceased for their families to treasure after their deaths. Mike says that "we thought maybe lots of people out there would like to have a piece of memorialised art that represents them.” And by the sound of their reviews, they were right.
One customer described how she and the matching tattoo she shares with her deceased mother “ is meaningful to my entire childhood and adult life.” Mementos are often kept of the dead: think your grandmother’s ballet shoes, portrait or prom corsage. What could be more personal than something they chose to keep with them, always?
The process involves a secret preservation method that takes about three months. Finally, it is framed with UV-protective glass, to prevent any damage while being hung. “You can’t tell it is skin after it all,” Sherwood said. “The pieces end up looking more like parchment paper.”
It’s not only a new way of preserving the legacy of the tattoo owner, but also the tattooist. Despite its criminal history, the body modification industry is now a hive of talent with some artist’s work receiving an international following. The Sherwoods equate putting the creations of tattoo-legend Sailor Jerry on the fire, akin to burning a Picasso.
”We are trying to do this in the most dignified manner possible. To people, some of these things really are pieces of art," said Kyle. He already knows which of his tattoos he'd like to preserve – a drawing of three embalming tools etched onto his leg.