Self-portrait: hidden beauty of your DNA

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The Independent US

The bold colours and abstract patterns may bring to mind a Mark Rothko masterpiece but this art has altogether more scientific roots – deoxyribonucleic acid or DNA.

This is a portrait for the 21st century, where time is money. So it's goodbye to long sittings, trying not to fidget and keeping a painfully fixed smile on your face. All you have to do is swipe a cotton bud inside your mouth, send it off to Canada and, before you know i,t you'll have your genetic profile on canvas. Call it the ultimate in personal art.

DNA portraits are the brainchild of Adrian Salamunovic and Nazim Ahmed. While DNA is commonly known as a way of establishing paternity or identifying a body, the men wanted to show off the hidden beauty of one of science's most important discoveries.

Customers can choose soothing blues, vivid reds and oranges, as their wash of colour to the clean, bold lines and comfortingly geometrical patterns of the DNA, and further personalise their genetic profile. For less flamboyant types, there's always the more muted monochrome print option.

Want a family portrait? Well never fear, you can merge your DNA image with those of your loved ones, from little Johnny to Rover the dog, a genetic melting pot, if you like.

"Only the creator will ever really know who the art represents," the company says on its website.

The human genetic code amounts to a three billion letter DNA book, but only a tenth of a percent of DNA differs from one person to the next. "While each piece is as unique as every individual in the world, they also aim to display our link as humans, who are all created from the same building blocks of life," Mr Ahmed says.

Two years after launching, the pair's Ottawa-based company DNA 11 has sold thousands of prints in 52 countries and estimates demand is growing 20 per cent a month. The DNA canvases, which cost between £200 and £600 , have also become a bestseller at New York's Museum of Modern Art, flying out of the store and on to the city's walls. "They are really very popular, they sell well," said one salesman at MOMA's design store.

And like any American cultural phenomenon worth its salt, the art has even worked its way onto the small screen, featuring in a recent plotline on the New York version of the cult series CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. A DNA portrait in a suspect's home helps investigators tie her to evidence left at a crime scene. A certain amount of artistic licence has been taken here, however, as by the time the DNA samples are sent to Canada as a digital file, they have no useful forensic value.