Artist Conversations: Dave “Pepe” Petko

Artist Conversations: Dave “Pepe” Petko

Dave “Pepe” Petko has been making art since he could hold a crayon. He’s since traded in his crayon for a tattoo machine and runs Black Ohm Tattoos, turning people’s ideas into ink here in Whistler since 1999.

Not only is Black Ohm Tattoos recognized as a destination tattoo studio, Dave has also done tattoo guest spots all over BC.

We had a chat with Pepe to learn about how nature inspires him, critter sculptures, and upcoming projects.

How do your outdoor adventures inspire your art?

“I spend a lot of time in the woods picking mushrooms, mountain biking, and wandering. I have seen many fascinating, mind blowing things in the woods and what nature chooses to make. All of these things have inspired my art, from geometric, fractal patterns to crystals, tree bark to mushroom gills, and most of all the color combinations.”

What piece are you most proud of?

“I am most proud of the five works I am currently making.”

How has the Sea to Sky’s art community helped you grow as an artist?

“The Sea to Sky arts community are a constant inspiration to me. Seeing the new work artists are making inspires me to keep pushing forward with my art and my style continues to evolve and hopefully never taking steps backwards nor remaining stagnant.”

How did you develop/come into your own style?

“Developing my style came from sketching in sketchbooks for 20 plus years, using as many mediums as I could get my hands on, trying to not do the same thing twice, and not really trying to copy what other artists were doing.”

What other artists’ Instagram feeds are you into right now?

“I have three Instagram accounts, one for my tattoos (@blackohm), one for my “normal” art (@skull_boy), and one for my sculptures and critters (@113critters). I follow many artists, so the best way to see who I am following is to follow me and see who I am following.”

What advice do you have for artists looking to follow in your footsteps?

“Simple: make art, every day. This sounds simple but it is hard to do especially with all the distractions around us.  Our monkey brains are constantly creating thoughts and noise and excuses to NOT make art, to NOT be creative.   Be dedicated to art on a daily basis.”

What advice would you give your 20 year old self?

“Don’t party so much, keep the blinders on and make art every day.”

What’s the weirdest job you’ve ever had?

“I used to be a janitor at a strip club in my home town.”

What’s next for you? What are you working towards?

“I’m doing what I want to right now, I run my own tattoo studio and am there five days a week tattooing and making art. I am also hosting a drop-in art night once a month. I make large scale installation artwork at music festivals with an art collective called “The Guild” for a few weeks in the spring and summer which involve travelling and is hard work with long days but the crew of people I work with are awesome and I have a blast so it’s fully worth the long days. I am making art full time. I have some smaller sculptural projects on the go right now that could take a few years to fully realize, and I am enjoying doing the sculpture thing. I also have a series large scale paintings I want to complete in the next couple years. I have had a series of crow and raven paintings I have been working on for the past four years in my spare time and I want to complete them and have a solo exhibit. I still sketch daily. I am trying to keep myself busy and out of trouble.”

What’s your favourite colour?

“I don’t have a favourite colour. I prefer black instead, which is not a color at all, it is the absence of colour.”


Join in on one of Pepe’s art nights! They happen the last Saturday of every month from 7pm-10pm. Check out the next one July 29 at Black Ohm Tattoos. |

Facebook | Twitter | Instagram: @blackohm @skull_boy @113critters


Looking for a tattoo design or inspiration in the Sea to Sky Corridor?

Whistler Tattoo Company

Ashlar Tattoo

Electric Uprising

Pins & Needles

Method Tattoo & Apparel




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