The family of a deceased Saskatoon man has unveiled his preserved tattoos at an event in Saskatchewan.
Chris Wenzel died in his sleep on Oct. 29 at the age of 41. His wife, Cheryl, says her husband had suffered from ulcerative colitis, and had been complaining about chest pains shortly before his death.
Cheryl says her husband “knew he was going to go” and had already been researching tattoo preservation when he came across a U.S.-based company called Save My Ink Forever.
“He used to always say, you know, tattoo ’til death’,” she told CTV News Saskatoon this past November. “And I think he really took it to a different context!”
According to their website, Save My Ink Forever allows families to preserve their loved one’s body art whereby the deceased’s skin is surgically removed and treated with a special formula. The entire process takes approximately three months, at the end of which families receive the framed tattoos of the departed.
“Tattoos, you know, tell a story about a person,” said Kyle Sherwood, the owner of Save My Ink Forever. “And for someone to get something tattooed on them that they’re displaying for life, you know, means something to them… You wouldn’t burn or bury a Picasso and that’s what some of these pieces are.”
Prior to his death, Wenzel operated his own tattoo business, Electric Underground Tattoos Inc., and was a well respected artist.
“If you know anybody in the city with a tattoo, it’s probably one of his,” said Marc Wishart, a fellow tattoo artist who worked alongside Wenzel. “He was super dedicated to putting his whole energy into what he was doing each day. “
“He was a really, really caring man,” Cheryl added. “He’d do anything for his children and for myself… It still feels like I’m just waiting for him to come home.”
Now, months after his passing, Cheryl has been reunited with her husband’s body art, and plans to share his artwork with the world. Previous reports estimated the total cost to preserve his pieces to be around $80,000.
“Now that he’s home, I feel like we’re completed, like we’re back together and I’m willing to take him out and finish our journey that we started,” she told CBC in an interview, noting her own plans to have her tattoos preserved.
“I’d honour his wishes in any way,” Cheryl said. “He was the love of my life.”