It may be the ultimate expression of Me Generation self-absorption, Baby Boomer narcissism, Yuppie ego indulgence. Or it may be a loving expression of the life force of the dearly departed.
You make the call. It's the designer casket.
For $2,995, a Dallas firm called WhiteLight will FedEx overnight to any funeral home in the 48 contiguous states a standard, 18-gauge steel casket with any of 40 art designs applied to it by a photo-laminate process guaranteed to last 10 years.
Probably longer. The 10-year warranty by manufacturer 3M applies to photo laminates that create the elaborate ads you see on the sides of hard-used Metro buses.
"Our product won't fade in the sun; it will never see the light of day," says WhiteLight founder and president Patrick Fant.
Fant, who spent 15 years running rock music stations in Dallas, came up with the idea in 1997 while contemplating the disappointingly ordinary funeral service just held for his aunt, whom he says was "special, different, unique."
So he formed a company to provide that respectful expression by buying ready-made steel caskets and applying patented plastic laminate photos to them.
Designs include Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard themes, the Last Supper, the Last Hole for golfers, Memories of the Hunt for gamesmen, the Heart of America for farmers, college themes from Texas A&M to the University of Arkansas, Monet's Water Lilies, The Spirit of Cuba and others.
They're not eager to create individual, personalized designs for caskets grape vines for wine lovers, Yankee Stadium for baseball fans but they can be talked into it for about $5,000. Families can buy the caskets through most funeral homes or by calling (877) 278-2275 or visiting www.artcaskets.com/.
Fant decided not to try to make designer urns for cremation ashes because that field was already crowded.