Robbie Koch likes to say he has one large tattoo.
Koch, the proprietor of Robbie’s Coon Tattoo & Physique Piercing in West Level, counted as soon as: He is been tattooed by 63 completely different artists in addition to himself. However that is now not the quantity he focuses on.
“The person rely is for individuals who do it for the fallacious goal, in my eyes,” Koch stated. “For them, it is solely a quantity to compete or one thing. For me, it is my artwork. It is one piece.”
Koch, who moved to the U.S. from Nuremberg, Germany, and has owned Coon Tattoo since 2001, used to subscribe to a distinct philosophy. For years, he sought fame, reward and accolades. In 2008, he even broke a world document from his small Fundamental Avenue store.
However Koch is completed with that life, he says. Although he is bought the expertise to be a family identify on the planet of tattooing, his goal has modified — for the higher, he says.
“I do not need to put myself first anymore,” he stated. “I am simply joyful sitting in my little nook and doing what individuals need me to do: make them joyful.”
Koch, who bought his first tattoo at age 16, stated initially, being tattooed was a strategy to insurgent in opposition to his dad and mom’ divorce and get consideration by “trying hideous.” However unexpectedly, the artwork started to pique his curiosity.
“I bought trapped — a superb trapped,” Koch stated.
In 1995, he moved to the U.S. at age 28 to be close to his household. In 1998, he started to enter competitions sponsored by tattoo promoters and suppliers. The contests provided prizes for measurement and theme classes — individuals, animals, landscapes. Koch was finest at realism, together with American classics from the Nineteen Twenties and ’30s. The awards began to pile up.
Someplace alongside the best way, he got here into possession of a pet raccoon. Koch had “Fortunate” all of three weeks earlier than the animal reached maturity and Koch realized, nicely, he had a raccoon as a pet.
When he opened his retailer in 2001, he needed to name it “Fortunate Tattoo” or “Fortunate 13 Tattoo,” however he was suggested it was unhealthy kind to decide on a moniker that matched an present parlor’s identify.
Therefore, in Fortunate’s honor, Coon Tattoo was born.
Twenty-four hours of hell
In 2008, purchasers from throughout the South converged on West Level with a singular goal: to be a part of a brand new world document.
At the moment, Kat Von D, a Los Angeles-based artist and the topic of the TLC actuality present LA Ink, held the respect for essentially the most tattoos in 24 hours on Dec. 14, 2007: a fair 400.
Koch needed extra. He set a aim of 600 tattoos in 24 hours.
He made certain the occasion wasn’t only a publicity stunt, devoting all proceeds from the $20 tattoos to the Make-A-Want Basis. Mike Sullivan of Starkville, who helped coordinate the occasion, stated its charitable nature helped fight the stereotypes of individuals with tattoos.
“Do not decide a ebook by its cowl,” Sullivan stated. “Individuals have gotten good hearts no matter how they give the impression of being.”
At midday March 28, it was time. Prospects filed into Koch’s store in fast succession. The tattoo artist had assistants serving to individuals out and in of his chair, and others handed Koch sterilizer and different provides. Koch’s spouse Lynda handed him foods and drinks when wanted, however nonetheless, his mouth and kidneys ached from dehydration. The repetitive movement of the needle took a toll on his arms, too.
“It was hell,” Koch stated. “You put on your self out badly.”
The one factor that stored him shifting, he stated, was figuring out the place the cash was going. With already round $3,000 in donations earlier than any tattoos even came about, Koch was in the end in a position to hand Make-A-Want a test for $15,602.
With 577 tattoos, Koch hadn’t fairly met his aim of 600. Nonetheless, he’d shattered Kat Von D’s document.
“It was an amazing endeavor,” Koch stated.
‘The one one I belief’
Koch is aware of no day within the tattoo chair will ever be as hectic as that one. He is glad for it.
He is turned his consideration away from searching for renown and competitors to easily making his topics joyful, which has allowed him to create extra lasting recollections of those that sit in his chair.
Take the 87-year-old girl from Aberdeen who’d been instructed by her physician she did not have lengthy to stay. A member of the excessive society who felt like she’d finished all the things proper, she instructed Koch what she might now not wait to have: a small ladybug on her shoulder.
She died three weeks after the tattoo, and when she was displayed in her casket at her memorial service, the ladybug was displaying — to make an announcement, Koch stated.
And although not each tattoo he is ever made is ideal — “I am not a machine; I am a human being,” Koch stated — he is developed an awesome repute amongst purchasers within the Golden Triangle.
“Actually, he is like the one dude who I’ve ever met who you possibly can carry one of the best murals ever to, and he makes it higher,” stated Sullivan, who had a number of earlier tattoos improved by Koch and bought new ones, too.
That is why, after greater than 10 years since his final tattoo from Koch, Sullivan goes again along with his daughter, who needs her first tattoo for her 18th birthday in November.
“He is actually the one one I belief to place my daughter’s first tattoo on her,” Sullivan stated.
“These days, there’s tattoo retailers in every single place,” he added, “however I nonetheless need to go to him.”