Historically, Philadelphia’s no slouch when it comes to invention. Continuing that trend Wednesday was Erik Spiller, a 19-year-old who devised an easy way to temporarily hide a tattoo.
Spiller was one of two exhibitors from Philadelphia who showcased innovations at the White House Maker Faire, an event celebrating the first National Day of Making. Simon Hauger, principal of the Workshop School in Philadelphia, and some Workshop students also attended the event to display a biodiesel car the students built that runs on used cooking oil.
Spiller said his brother provided the inspiration after he couldn’t get into the Army because of a tattoo on his hand.
“That’s what gave me the idea to just go ahead and try and conceal tattoos,” Spiller said. “Not permanently — because laser removal is painful and really expensive — but a cheap, temporary alternative just in case you are at a wedding or job interview, and you just need a quick fix for something.”
The fix is ingeniously simple — and kind of meta. Spiller’s Coverups, as he calls them, are essentially fake tattoos that he custom matches to a person’s skin color. Place them over the real tattoo, and voila!
While Spiller hadn’t given his Coverups much thought since failing to get past the third competitive stage in his class, participating in the Maker Faire has renewed his interest.
“As soon as I walked through those White House doors,” he said, “the first lady I met, she was like, ‘Wow, you have that? I’m going to need that immediately.'”
Now Spiller is thinking of experimenting with soy inks, which he says are more environmentally friendly and better at matching skin tones.