Seventy-two-year-old owner of Capital Tattoo and B.I.R.D. Productions Billy Eason produced the Richmond Tattoo Arts Festival in Virginia. He passed away on the weekend of November 20th, during his 18th annual Richmond show. Here’s Billy’s listing on the 101 Most Influential People in Tattooing, which was posted shortly before his untimely death.
Billy Eason was the genius behind one of the original heavy-hitter tattoo “conventions,” the Richmond Tattoo Arts Festival in Virginia.” That was some eighteen years ago, when these weekend events were more than a break from the daily grind, but were actually special and exciting. For example, I remember having a booth for my magazine that featured Leo Zulueta and Keone Nunes, all courtesy of Mr. Eason. Always affable and positive, this industry icon has gone through lots of personal challenges during the years, but he keeps overcoming and showing up with excellent, dependable, quality tattoo events and, as an added bonus, never wears the same colorful, one-of-a-kind tattoo-guy shirt twice.
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I remember Billy, of course, as one of the industry’s most-respected convention promoters, back when there were only a handful of tattoo events each year. Not like today, with a show held virtually every weekend. Billy was always accommodating and kind. He reminded me of Col. Harland Sanders, another bigger-than-life Southern gentleman. Billy had a raft of difficulties over the years, especially in the marriage department, but he never failed to put it all in a positive context, a way of looking at things that he happily preached to his friends and fans throughout the years. One thing about Billy: his conventions were well organized and contemporary, but they were also old school and, on occasion, a bit raunchy and fun. Hooray for that. And hooray for the great Billy Eason.