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For 23 years, Dave Petko has been putting his needle to ink at Whistler’s Black Ohm tattoo.

But three years ago, he inked something completely different—a business license; taking over the beloved shop from its previous owner who was contemplating closing it for good.

“I was left the business when the second owner retired to have twins. She gave me the option of taking over or she was going to close it down,” says Petko.

Now he’s both artist and owner and uses his background in graphic design to influence the shop’s overall tattoo art style. For Petko, that’s colourful nature-inspired designs. For his co-worker, Steve Kretz, it translates into black and grey art pieces that mix realism with graphic design.

Although they are opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to their individual styles, both artists complement each other to the customers’ benefit.

“My style is new school but inspired by graphic designs. I call them graphic landscape. The designs have very thick straight and thin lines that have a very graphic appeal to them,” says Petko.

And unlike a lot of other shops, all work done here is 100 per cent custom and digitized as much as possible.

Smaller pieces are sketched while customers wait and later transformed into digital renderings using Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. This way the customer knows exactly what the piece will look like in colour and on their skin.

“All tattoos are going to outlive the client, so you really want something that’s going to age well,” says Petko.

Aside from giving clients the tattoos they’ve been dreaming of, Petko is also fulfilling other dreams—those of fellow animal lovers.

From any minimum charge ($120) tattoo he creates, $20 is donated to local charity Whistler Animals Galore (WAG).

“They do a lot of great work for the animals in Whistler,” says Petko. “A lot of people in town have dogs and cats. They helped me out in the past with dogs, so I figured I’d help them out. It was a no-brainer.”

To find out more about Black Ohm Tattoo, call 604-938-8878, visit www.blackohmtattoos.com or drop by at 1040 Millar Creek Rd #8, Whistler, B.C.