“With some grim humour I always answered the question about how long a tattoo would last by saying: “They are guaranteed for life – and six months.” - Samuel Steward, tattooist and author of Bad Boys and Tough Tattoos (1950-65).
When asked by a potential client “how long will my tattoo last?”, an old saying that a tattooist may give in answer is “Life and six months.” The emphasis in the phrase is of course on the permanent nature of the tattoo, and serves as a warning to the fickle or impulsive customer – once the skin is punctured and the ink pricked in, your tattoo will not only be with you for life, but will remain for some time after death, too. In some cases, a tattoo may long outlive the bearer…
This website is dedicated to my doctoral research into the postmortem preservation of tattooed human skin. Working specifically with a collection of 300 such objects owned by the Wellcome Collection, my work explores the historical practice of collecting and preserving tattoos, looking at the origins and purpose of the collection, as well as the iconography of the tattoos.
My research has taken me to some unexpected places – sometimes bizarre, always fascinating – much of which I will document in these pages. Here you will find my reflections on the research process, covering a wide range of related themes and issues, from the problems inherent in working with museum collections of human remains, to the growing contemporary interest in postmortem tattoo preservation by living donors, and much more besides.
© Life & 6 Months, 2012 preserved tattooed human skin, preserved tattoo, preserved tattoos, preserved tattooed skin, tattoo collection, tattooed skin collection, tattooed human skin collection, tattoo collector