DNA Art: A Truly Unique Gift

What do you give to someone who has everything? How about DNA art?

When it comes to giving someone a completely unique gift, it’s hard to do better than personalized DNA art. That’s because, in a very real sense, you’re giving them a piece of, well… them. We’ve discussed personalized art in the past, but nothing gets more personalized than DNA artwork.

You see, DNA art takes the form of an artistically rendered graphic of certain portions of your giftee’s genetic code, or genome. The result is an absolutely exclusive portrait, because a person’s DNA is even more distinctive than their fingerprint.

A Note of Caution

Of course, you’ll need to get your recipient’s permission first, because you’ll need their cooperation to produce the art. All you require is a few cells from a mouth swab. But be aware that some folks might not like the idea, because of privacy issues. So be sure to run the idea by your giftee to see if it flies.

Admittedly, that kind of ruins the surprise, but better safe than sorry. And no worries: if you want to retain the element of surprise, some DNA art services offer gift cards or certificates. You can send them by e-mail, or order a physical one that you can dress up as you like before presenting it to your lucky giftee.

Once they have their gift card or certificate in their hot little hands, they can go online to the DNA art site and decide how to proceed.

How It Works

While the science is a little complex, the art production process is surprisingly straightforward. After making the order, you wait for the DNA collection kit to arrive from the service. Then you just follow the directions, step by step.

Again, all they need is a few cells swabbed from the inside of the giftee’s cheek. When you’ve got them, pack up the sample and ship it to them. At the lab, they’ll extract your DNA and run it on a kind of gel strip, producing a unique portrait made of light and dark bands (in the method’s most common form).

Once they finish with the DNA sample, they’ll destroy it. Privacy guaranteed.

Just a Bit More

Next, graphic designers enhance the genetic chart digitally, customize it, and print it on high-quality canvas. After varnishing and framing it to pre-ordered specs, they’ll ship it to your gleeful recipient, usually with a certificate of authenticity (this varies according to the company that does the work).

The process takes 4-6 weeks, and the cost usually starts at about $200 for an 8 x 10-inch miniature portrait. Larger DNA art portraits more suitable for public display usually start at about twice as much for an 18 x 24-inch format.