Villain Arts convention to draw thousands after Nashville lifts COVID restrictions

Posted at 6:22 PM, May 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-21 19:23:06-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Tattoo artists from around the country have descended upon Nashville for a convention expecting to host nearly 5,000 people over the weekend.

The Villain Arts show takes place Friday through Sunday and according to Ink Master legend Robbie Ripoll, they couldn’t have timed it any better.

“It’s nice to see people living life and this town has a lot of life,” Ripoll said.

It may feel like a big step, but Ripoll has been here before. He and his team at Rad Ink know the city, they know the convention and for the last several months, they’ve worked through the pandemic like everyone else. The only difference is right where he stands.

For the first time since a 2019 accident at a Villain Arts convention in Kansas City, Ripoll can now walk on both feet. The more he moves, the more smiles he sees, the more normal it feels.

“Pushing through the things that you’re scared to death of, it makes you a better person on the other side,” Ripoll said.

In a lot of ways, this is what they’ve come to expect when you bring such a large group event to any city. Carl Murray knew Nashville would most likely lift COVID restrictions before most places. They booked it for this week, hoping for the best.

At the time, Murray says they were 14 months behind on their touring schedule. That said, they knew all along they wanted to be in Nashville as soon as they could.

“As soon as you opened for us, we were coming down,” Murray said.

You will need a mask to enter the building. There's also more space between each of the more than 150 stations. The walkways have a bit more elbow room and Murray says this is to encourage more social distance.

Murrays says he’s thrilled to show other cities what they’re capable of in a city like Nashville where you can be safe but still have fun.

“Everybody is having fun and everybody is smiling, so with that type of energy and enthusiasm within the community if they come out and support you, you can’t fail,” Murray said.

They’ve been to Chicago, Philly and now Nashville, but for the first time it’s starting to feel more like it used to. A time where it was less about what we lost and more about the excitement of what’s to come.

You can get a tattoo on-site over the weekend, as long as you’re 18 years of age or older. Metro Public Health tells us they will be doing routine checks to ensure all safety regulations are followed for getting a tattoo.