New wave tattoo trend brings sound to ink

By Keith Garvin - Anchor/Reporter

HOUSTON - Tattoos: Artistic expressions, bold statements and oftentimes conversation starters.

But in a growing trend, tattoos are the source of the conversation.

Rafael Sermeno was one of the first people in the Houston area to get what's known as a soundwave tattoo. A company called Skin Motion will convert your selected audio into a stencil of a soundwave, and then tattoo that onto your person. You can then use an app to access the audio anytime.

Sermeno has two very important voices memorialized in his tattoo. First, his beloved dog Illidan who died last year at the age of 11. The other is the sound his daughter Fabiana made the moment after she was born five years ago. Sermeno says other parents are surprised when they see, then hear, the tattoo.

"Usually they associate tattoos with something rough or something out of the streets," Sermeno said. "When they see it and when they hear it their hearts melt."

Prison Break Tattoos is one of a handful of ink shops in the state certified by Skin Motion to use the soundwave tattoos. Owner B.K. Klev said the trend is becoming more popular with his artists drawing soundwave tattoos for up to eight customers per week.

"It gives them an option to possibly hear a loved one's voice," Klev said. "Or a voice of a first responder that's been lost in the line of duty."

That includes the voice of a parent.

One of our very own, KPRC editor Shavonne Herndon, got a soundwave tattoo six months after her father passed away. The audio she chose? The last voicemail she ever received from her dad. Shavonne remembers the first time she used the soundwave app.

"I couldn't get through the first five seconds of it without crying because that's my dad and that's his voice," she said.

Most recipients said they don't listen to the audio every day, but there are moments they just have to hear it.

"When I have hard days and tough days I play it," Herndon said. "I just hope I'm making him proud."

The soundwave stencil from Skin Motion costs about $150 plus a $50 activation fee. The average price to have the stencil tattooed is about $250.

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