Second Annual INKCarceration Brings Thousands To Mansfield

  • 7/12/2019 9:31:32 PM
  • Jesse Smith
  • Local News

MANSFIELD, OH - Thousands of music and tattoo fans swarmed the grounds of the historic Ohio State Reformatory on Friday for the opening of the second annual INKCarceration festival - an attraction that sees several million dollars through tourism to Richland County for the three days it's held.

Aside from musicians such as Shinedown, Five Finger Death Punch, Godsmack, and a host of other rock and metal-themed acts, the festival brings in tattoo artists from all over the country, who attend the festival to make connections with other artists as well as to spread awareness about their businesses. Kristina Pafford and Amy Jiao, who work at New York-based studios Bare Knuckle Tattoo and Ascend Gallery, respectively, spoke about why they attended the festival despite the long distance they traveled to come to Mansfield.

"I think that clients want to get tattooed by people who are well-traveled, well-versed, and do a lot for the tattoo community," Pafford said. "It's like a lifestyle. I think that's enticing to a lot of customers."

"They ask us all the time, 'Where were you just at? How was it? Is it worth going to?' That kind of thing," said Jiao.

When it comes to Ohio-based artists, the festival helps to get the names of various studios into the public eye, boosting the profiles of artists who attend while helping to attract more customers through their businesses by meeting artists face-to-face in a casual atmosphere.

"It's nice because people don't have to come far if they see us here," said Sam Little, an artist from American Crow Tattoo in Columbus. "Columbus isn't far. We're technically booked all weekend, but it's nice to be able to tell people that it's a short drive and that they can always come to Columbus. It's good exposure."

With the combination of the impressive repertoire of bands, the beautiful architecture of the Ohio State Reformatory, and with fan-favorite food trucks such as SWAT and Island Noodles, the festival keeps artists and casual fans returning year after year.

"The prison, man," Little said. "It's such a great location to have an event like this. I absolutely love it. It's my favorite show."

One artist whose business has benefited from attending the festival, Justin Crawford, explained how customers remembered seeing his work showcased in the event, which in turn drove more customers to his Mount Vernon-based tattoo shop, Hard Knox Tattoo.

"We had a really good turnout last year," Crawford said. "The vibe was really cool, the bands were really cool, and it's just really fun to do it in the prison, you know? I had some clientele that came from here to the shop, which is really nice, because some pieces are too large, but they come here and see your work and like your work, so they follow you to your shop. It helps with the business a lot, actually. I've had a really good time and I've had a good experience with clients. I mean, even today, my first client, a walk-up... just a great, great time. I'm having a blast already and it just started."

The staff of the Ohio State Reformatory also appreciates the influx of traffic to the historic Mansfield landmark, with many visitors taking tours and experiencing the facility's new escape room attraction, "Escape From Blood Prison."

"It means the world to us," said Alayna Ross, a Marketing Intern at the Ohio State Reformatory. "This is our second year for INKCarceration. We're very excited for the festival. It brings a lot of tourists and it brings a lot of attention to us that I think that we otherwise wouldn't get. We get Shawshank, we get historical stuff, but... I don't know, it's kind of cool to be the backdrop to such a cool thing like INKCarceration."

One of the Co-Producers of the INKCarceration music and tattoo festival, Susan Fischer, spoke several days before the festival began about her experiences working with the Mansfield community.

"We are so proud to be welcomed to Mansfield," Fischer said on Tuesday. "We've had a great partnership with Destination Mansfield, the Chamber of Commerce, the City of Mansfield, law enforcement, fire, safety, Highway Patrol, the Sheriff... I mean, we have had great support from the community. We're proud to bring an event of this stature and size to Mansfield and to hopefully make it a destination for festival lovers year after year after year."

INKCarceration continues through Sunday night. For tickets and showtimes, visit

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