Toby Gehrlich moved to Columbus for tattoos and rock 'n' roll. Fortunately for him, he kept pursuing the tattoos.

Toby Gehrlich moved to Columbus for tattoos and rock 'n' roll. Fortunately for him, he kept pursuing the tattoos.

A native of a tiny Northwest Ohio village called Botkins, Gehrlich was living in nearby Wapakoneta and singing - "horribly" - in a band called Knucklebuster. They often drove down to the Capital City to perform. He had also been working at a Wapakoneta tattoo shop for two years.

"It was going to be inevitable, going to a bigger pond and better opportunities for tattooing," Gehrlich said.

The band didn't work out - too much drinking, not enough rocking - but city life was good for Gehrlich's artistic pursuits. He took jobs at a string of shops including Inspired by Ink, Sacred Art and Body Language before landing his current gig at Stained Skin.

If Gehrlich's focus has shifted from sounds to sights, it certainly hasn't narrowed its scope. He is an "art geek all around," a voracious student who constantly draws, paints, airbrushes vehicles and does whatever else he can get his hands into.

"They have some of the greatest artists in the world at Hell City, and I love seeing their tattoos, but I also love seeing what they're doing when they're not tattooing," he said. "I love to see their oil paintings and their acrylics and their graphite drawings, everything. It's like a bee's nest of inspiration."

But his career remains tattooing, an industry he entered with a bang. He imprinted a "baby spider, sideshow-looking thing" onto a friend at age 22, an image he described as "the scariest tattoo ever."

His work has continued to get a reaction ever since.