Chris Wenzel had one dying wish – to have his tattooed skin preserved after his death. The 41-year old owner of Electric Underground Tattoos in Saskatoon, Canada died on 28 October this year from ulcerative colitis, a condition which led to him have a massive heart attack in his sleep. When it became apparent that he might die from the condition, Chris shared his wish with his wife Cheryl, stating that he wants his skin removed before he was buried so that his children and grandchildren can one day admire his life’s work long after his passing. It was during the final months of his life that Chris discovered a company that could help his wife make his dying wish come true: Ohio-based Save My Ink Forever.
It was their biggest job yet
Shortly after Chris’s death, Cheryl contacted the company which is operated by the father-son team of Michael and Kyle Sherwood. Kyle went to Saskatoon himself to remove approximately 70% of Chris’s total skin from his chest, back, legs and arms. According to Sherwood, his company has already preserved hundreds of tattoos
. He also stated that this was by far the biggest preservation ever undertaken in North America. Cheryl was present when Sherwood started to remove the skin, pointing out the exact tattoos that her late husband wanted to have preserved.
Art deserves to be preserved
A closer look at a photo Cheryl posted on Instagram of the tattoos on Chris’s chest reveals magnificent artwork depicting a giant serpent locked in battle with two birds of prey. A brightly-colored tattoo illustrating a skeleton adorned his back while various other works of art covered his arms and shoulders. When asked why they got into the business of preserving tattoos, Kyle Sherwood responded:“You wouldn’t burn or bury a Picasso and that’s what some of these pieces are.” This is the exact reason why Chris wanted to be skinned – for his own masterpieces to be preserved for all eternity.
His passion for tattoos started at an early age
Chris’s love for tattoos manifested itself at a very young age. He was, after all, only nine years old when he gave his aunt a tattoo. According to his wife “He just fell in love with it. He fell in love with art and had such a passion for tattoos. He would say he was a slave to the needle because he loved to tattoo so much.” It is for this very reason that Cheryl was so willing to ensure that Chris’s last request materialized.
Chris’s request is a costly affair
The estimated fee for removing and preserving all of Chris’s skin amounts to more than C$ 80,000 which is hefty considering that the average Canadian earns in the region of C$50,000 a year. Despite the staggering price tag of the procedure which is expected to take in the region of three months to complete, Cheryl is adamant to foot the bill, stating that by preserving her late husband’s artwork she is paying a very fitting tribute to a man who had a remarkable spirit. To help Cheryl carry the costs of the procedure a GoFundMe page was also created to enable the public to make donations towards the cause.
Thanks to a loving, dedicated wife and a company willing to go above, and beyond their normal duty, Chris’s life’s work will be preserved for generations to come. His tattooed skin will forever be a reminder of the immense love he had for tattoos.