The permanence of tattoos is often touted as either a major appeal or major concern surrounding the medium, depending on who you ask. The ancient art form that injects ink beneath the top layer of skin to create a permanent image creates, for better or worse, a "til death do we part" relationship with body art for many who take a seat in the chair.
While many tattoo enthusiasts have had to endure questions such as "what are you going to think of that when you're 60?" there's a new initiative coming out of Amsterdam that may make old age seem like small potatoes for tattooed skin.
Bodies as art
Despite the rich cultural history that has traced the development of tattooing throughout different global societies, today the practice in the West is pursued largely as a commercial endeavor. When artists charge for administering tattoos, it can be easy to view them more as a product than as an art form. But ever-developing techniques and practices, not to mention a rapidly growing cultural acceptance of the medium, means that popular culture now more than ever before has embraced tattooing as an artistic expression.
For some, this has spurred some more unconventional thinking when it comes to the practice of tattoo preservation. After all, even if tattoos are for life, what does that mean for the often unique art once the recipient passes away? Are tattoo artists destined to see their work pass away with those that bear it?
The next generation of tattoo preservation
If one Amsterdam-based company has its way, tattoos will not only last as long as their owners, they'll outlive them. According to the Houston Chronicle, 26-year-old Luci Cook is currently in talks to have her tattooed skin donated to the Foundation for Art and Science of Tattooing upon her death. The Amsterdam-based foundation is working with doctors, not to mention potential donors, from around the world to build a library of actual tattoos that are put on display for preservation.
Part artistic preservation effort, part medical procedure, it has yet to be shown how the FAST initiative will catch on with art enthusiasts and tattoo aficionados alike. The artistic merit of tattoos can hardly be debated, though those who worry about suffering from tattoo regret may lose sleep over the idea that their ill-conceived body art from their youth may end up haunting them long after even they're gone.