Ancient Ink exhibit in Youngstown showcases seniors with tattoos

Local News

Each portrait tells a story

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – A Pittsburgh photographer is using his talent to showcase the art of tattoos.

Mark Perrott has been photographing tattoos and the people wearing them for decades.

“I started making the pictures like the ones that are behind me in 1979. That was my first visit to a tattoo parlor, in Pittsburgh. From then, it moved on to other cities, like Cleveland and Youngstown, Baltimore,” said Perrott.

His most recent exhibit, Ancient Ink, is on display at the Butler Institute of American Art in Youngstown. It showcases seniors 65 and older and their tattoos.

Perrott said it was his curiosity that drove his interest in tattoos.

“It is a mystery to me, why people get tattoos and that mystery has never had an answer,” he said.

Each portrait tells a story. Like Wendy, the face tattooed woman who has fought against cancer. Or Marge, the 74-year-old retired police officer from Cleveland. 

Jim, one of the subjects, designed his own artwork, from the patterns down to the colors.

Perrott said he worked on the art in this exhibit from 2015 until 2017. He said he found many of the people in his photos at tattoo conventions. 

As part of the photo shoot, they would also be interviewed. The stories behind the tattoos were just as important as the tattoos themselves.

“I love when people show me something they have connected with. It always leads to a powerful story of love, or death, or grief, or humor. I mean it’s incredibly rich to have that,” he said.

Saturday, Perrott was at the exhibit to talk about his photos and sign books.

The Ancient Ink exhibit has been extended until the end of the year at the Butler Institute of American Art. 

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