Paulina Farley-Kuzmina pictured with her newly-inked sunflower tattoo from Ancient Art Tattoos of Blacksburg, Virginia. 

Tucked away on West Roanoke Street in downtown Blacksburg, Ancient Art Tattoo looks like the quintessential tattoo shop. Through its glass storefront branded with a sign reading “Radchad’s Ancient Art Tattoo,” one can see black and red walls full of framed designs.

Operating in Blacksburg for decades, Ancient Art has been providing locals and Virginia Tech students with professional tattoos and piercings all the while. However, in October 2020, the shop underwent renovations including new ownership. 

“Ancient Art has been in business for 30 years; we purchased it back in October,” said Todd Butler, current co-owner and piercer at Ancient Art. “It’s a very well known shop that’s been around for a long time and we wanted to keep the name going — keep the legacy.”

Butler’s passion for the industry comes from his long-standing, close proximity to it.

“I’ve always been tattooed since I was young,” Butler said. “And I’ve always loved the industry — I’ve just always been around it.”

Butler and Radchad Wymer, co-owner and tattoo artist, proved their loyalty to the business during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic last year. Like most industries, tattooing was greatly impacted by the pandemic. 

“(COVID-19) made business stop for a couple months when it all started up and we were at Phase 1,” Butler said. “And then we traveled around to other states that were open to keep money coming in and that’s when we purchased Ancient Art.”

Since places have started reopening, Ancient Art has been busy. A lot of people, especially Virginia Tech students, have been visiting the shop daily to get pierced or tattooed as walk-ins. Additionally, the appointment books are filling fast. 

However, precautions due to the ongoing pandemic remain important. A day in the life of a shop owner includes a lot of cleaning and sanitizing in order to see to customers in the safest way possible.

“When people start coming in, we just kind of take one walk-in or one appointment at a time,” Butler said. “With COVID-19 going on, we try to keep the flow of people to a minimum inside the shop.”

Overall, Ancient Art continues to be an important asset to the Blacksburg and Virginia Tech community, offering a professional place for people to express themselves through the art of tattooing. Those who are interested can stay up to date on appointment and walk-in availability by visiting the shop’s Facebook page.