Preserving Tattoos for Posterity

Oct 23, 2015 | 0 comments

NAPSA logo

Logo of the National Association for the Preservation of Skin Art.

It’s estimated that 80 million Americans have tattoos, and 40 million have more than one. Tattoos are so prevalent and have such personal meanings, people are actually seeking to save the tattooed skin of their loved ones.

One of the buzz-generating exhibitors at the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) convention and expo was the National Association for the Preservation of Skin Art (NAPSA). The organization launched on September 14, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio after working for two years to perfect a process for preserving skin art.

“We want to provide a legacy for the families to keep after someone has died,” said Mike Sherwood, Master Embalmer. “We are surgically removing a tattoo, sending it to our lab – we have a special process that we use for the preservation of that tattoo – we then have it mounted and placed in a frame, and then give it back to the family as a legacy. Any one that has tattoos knows that it’s a life story, and I think it’s something that families do want.”

Why is the organization attending the NFDA convention? “We want to make funeral homes comfortable with the process of actually removing the skin art and getting it to us,” he said.

NAPSA is a non-profit organization, and funeral homes can become a preferred provider for their network. Their website is

Hunter Heart TattooAs it says on their website, “NAPSA is a nonprofit membership association of like-minded tattoo artists and enthusiasts. We provide a wide-array of support and benefits to the tattoo community — including artists, studios, collectors, and those curious about the industry. And now, with a new proprietary process, NAPSA has developed a method of preserving tattoos so that your story, your spirit, and your legacy can live on, for generations to come.”

The group displayed photos and examples of skin art that has been preserved. This piece, “Hunter,” pays tribute to the two-year-old son of a NAPSA member. The anatomical heart artwork with a bow and arrow and the child’s birth date was saved after the father who bore this tattoo died tragically young.

While this topic brought cringes to the faces of some people I mentioned this to, the NAPSA reps were quick to point out this process is nothing like the atrocities committed in Nazi Germany. It’s more of a way to keep tattoo enthusiasts’ ferocious individualism alive.

Preserving Skin Art




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