The preservation of tattoos isn’t really a new thing. If you go to some museums, you’ll be able to see some, especially in museums in Japan and countries surrounding it. It’s a weird thing to see, especially when you know that these tattoos weren’t preserved with the consent of its owner. While the resources have always been there, there was never before a way for the average Joe to do this with their own tattoos. Now, a tattoo shop in Amsterdam called Walls and Skin will do it all for you if you’d like.
For years, van der Helm, who is a tattoo artist, heard clients say, with pride, “When I die, I want to be in a museum.” Now, says van der Helm, they can be. Clients donate their tattoos to the foundation, which then loans them to family members. Some tattoos may be displayed by the foundation.
Van der Helm has 50 to 60 clients who have signed or say they plan to sign the forms. He launched the project almost one year ago (in November). Everyone who has signed a contract is still alive.
In all honesty, I can’t help but personally find this a bit weird. Fair play to anyone who does it, but the thought of someone taking my skin off and hanging it up on a wall seems weird! The cool thing, to me, about tattoos is that they walk around with you, and they move when you do. To have a tattoo that still looks great the second you twist your arm around takes skill, and to have one that looks great after years of sun and air pollution takes a master- it’s just not as impressive when you preserve that and put it on someone’s wall.
On the other hand, though, I can see why it appeals to someone. It’s not too different from having ashes in an urn really. When someone dies, there’s a part of some people that doesn’t want their bodies going anywhere else. I can totally get that feeling- my dad’s ashes are in his shed, where he spent most of his time. It would be weird to my family and I if they were scattered anywhere. I can imagine this is the same kind of thing, where it’d be a nice way to remember someone, as long as you’re not squeamish about having their skin on your wall.
Whatever your feelings about it, it’s at least interesting to see that this is now being done on a commercial scale. There’s a full feature on this on Ozy, and I’d recommend having a read of it, here.
[image header– not associated with Walls and Skin]