NEW ORLEANS -- It's a new form of art collecting that's happening in other parts of the world already, but just starting to trend in the United States. The National Association for the Preservation of Skin Art (NAPSA) says it can help you turn your tattoos into keepsakes to pass on to family and friends after you die.
"It's kind of dark and you are skinning somebody," says tattoo enthusiast Melanie Kuehl, but she says it's something she would definitely consider doing.
The owner of Bayou Queen Body Art, Kai Kita, agrees that it might be a way for loved ones to appreciate the artwork after someone has passed on.
She says skin preservation actually is an ancient European tradition. It hails from Iceland and is tied to witchcraft and sorcery. Centuries ago, wearing someone else's skin, as pants, was said to bring good fortune.
"Before they would pass away, a friend, usually male, would say, 'Hey can I have your skin?' And they would say, 'Yes,' and then when they passed away they would take the skin off and then they would wear it. Necropants, that's what it was called," says Kita.
Fast forward to modern times, and nowadays people are talking about shedding their dead skin for the sake of art and sentiment.
Melanie Kuehl has spent more than 70 hours getting inked. She says skin art preservation would be the ultimate inheritance and anyone who was given a piece of body art should see it as an "honor."
Kita says she doesn't know of anyone doing it in New Orleans now, but she would be in favor of it.
"My thoughts are it's kind of like donating an organ because your skin is one giant organ. Who knows, it might be the next big thing!" she says.
Something else to keep in mind if you have a tattoo that's faded: apparently when you remove layers of skin the ink color gets bright again.