The second annual Inkcarceration Music & Tattoo Festival kicks off today as Shinedown, Godsmack, and Five Finger Death Punch are the headliners for this year’s event. We’ve been curious about this festival since last year’s inaugural run as metal and tattoos have always gone hand in hand. We caught up with the festival’s co-producer, Susan Fisher, to learn a bit more about what goes on organizing a major event, its hustling challenges, tattoos, any strange occurrences that could happen at the Historic Ohio State Reformatory (Shawshank Prison), and more. 

What makes Inkcarceration Music & Tattoo fest standout compared to festivals such as Sonic Temple?

Every festival has their own vibe. We’re very focused on our unique experience and giving great value and and awesome an experience to our festival goers. We think we’ve got a pretty unique formula of Rock and Tattoos in a historic haunted prison, aka Shawshank Prison. 

 What should the crowd expect this year compared to last?

Great music all weekend with an incredible lineup Shinedown, Godsmack and Five Finger Death Punch.  I think our festival is marked by a hard to describe feeling of camaraderie of an awesome shared experience – which is still a novelty as its only year two. Professional tattoo artists, great gourmet food trucks, self guided prison tours, and a new feature Escape from Blood Prison. Lots to do.

During major festivals such as Epicenter, Sonic Temple and Rockville, there have been a few evacuations as festival goers were uncertain at points if the fest was going to continue. How would you handle events such as this that are out of anyone’s control and would there be a backup plan?

We’ve got the best team of professionals and the best partners in Mansfield Police Department, Fire and EMS. We’re all about the safety of our festival guests and will monitor weather closely. Yes, we‘ve got plans in place.

Manowar recently pulled out of Hellfest the day of the festival. These unexpected changes do happen, what’s your thought on challenges such as these?

In the festival business, it’s part of the job to be able to roll with the unexpected. We’ve got a great team and all pull together, we’ve got each others’ backs. And the City of Mansfield is behind us 100% which makes our planning a lot easier.

 Do you have any fun tattoo stories that you’re willing to share?

Well, truth be told, I am ink-less!! But I very much appreciate the artform – even more so now. But my partner Mike is covered and runs our The Bulleit Bourbon presents Inkcarceration Tattoo X, the festival’s live tattoo experience. He already has Inckarceration Festival logo and the prison tattooed on his shoulder and now this weekend he is getting Andy Dufresne on his forearm.


 Can you talk more about a few of the tattoo artists for this year?

An amazing collaboration by four pro artists from the Florida Panhandle is doing the forearm of one of our founders Mike Galbraith: Led by the design of Charles Chapman, Kevin Caron, from Sin Incorporated is doing Andy Dufresne portrait. That is flanked by the Crow, “Brooks was here” and chess pieces by Josh Paul of Lucky Devil. And Tommy Gunns from Tommy Gunns Tattoos is doing the rock hammer and the Get Busy Livin’ Get busy Dyin’ banner.  

Planning wise, how would you compare this year’s Inkcarceration to last?

 With year one successfully under our belts, we expanded our team, and we’re a lot wiser and more efficient. Just working hard to make the festival experience the best it can be from every angle, so Inkcarceration becomes the don’t miss event of the summer.

It’s no secret tattoos and metal go hand in hand but, how did this idea come together?

It’s a perfect trifecta – rock, tattoos in a haunted historic prison. The Ohio State Reformatory is a gem in Ohio and they do a lot of great events. We’re proud to partner with them and be on their roster of activities. It was one of those things, right place, right time, right people. 

What made you pick the Reformatory as a location and have any festival goers pick up on any hauntings or unusual activity in the area?

The Ohio State Reformatory is a historic gem and people flock nationwide to visit and ghost hunt. This year we’ve added Escape from Blood Prison, which is OSR’s way of bringing Halloween in July. And there are free self-guided tours all weekend long to experience all the Shawshank settings – especially in its 25th anniversary year: the wardens office, the safe, the showers, parole room, Brooks room, the pipe he escaped through. Very cool, and lots of haunted stories, the ghost hunters can tell.   

Anything you want to say or add about the event?

Inkcarceration Music and Tattoo Festival is an amazing weekend experience like none other.  Be there! 

Inkcarceration Music and Tattoo Festival is happening now. For more information on the event or tickets, check out the event’s website.