Penticton tattoo artist has dedicated his life to the craft

Tattooing as craft, not hobby

"Okanagan Inspired" is a weekly series of articles offering a peek into the stories and inspirations of Pentictonites who hold creative roles in the community.

Penticton tattoo artist Joseph Markewich was born in Winnipeg but grew up mainly bouncing between Greater Vancouver and Kamloops.

“I used to work for a logistics company in Vancouver,” explains Markewich. “But I’ve been an artist for as long as I can possibly remember. I left the company to go to design school in 2010. I didn’t really identify with the programming side, I was much more interested in the illustrative side so I designed more, but it wasn’t paying the bills. It’s hard to be an independent artist, so I went back as a graphic designer and illustrator at my old company, but I became tired of having one foot in both pools."

Markewich found his way into tattooing after being hired to design a logo for a tattoo shop.

“Within a few months I was tattooing. I picked it up really quickly. I had friends ask me to design their tattoos previously so it felt natural for me to begin tattooing them. I also began getting a lot of tattoos.” Markewich says.

Markewich had experience with all types of artistic mediums that eased his transition into tattoo artistry.

“I met a really good friend in high school and we got involved in graffiti. I thought it was a really cool alternative medium to paint and I enjoyed the bit of the thrill,” he explains.

Markewich feels the same inspiration and thrill with tattooing. He is best known for his line work, specializing in neo-traditional, traditional, black work and lettering.

“I love floral tattoos too, I love flowers. Flowers will never go out of style.” Markewich says.

When his friend with a tattoo shop in Vernon reached out, Markewich made the move to the Okanagan from Vancouver. That was six years ago and he has since worked in Vernon, Kelowna and now, Penticton.

While in Vernon, Markewich got heavily involved with helping out in the community. After working all day, he would volunteer at a homeless shelter from 11 p.m. - 7 a.m., only giving himself a few hours to rest.

“I worked with clients one on one teaching life skills like how to cook meals and establish healthy routines,” says Markewich.

“I’m a recovering alcoholic. I wouldn't be here today if it wasn’t for this journey and working in recovery. I believe it is easy to just look at people when you drive by them, but it's another thing to get on the ground with them and help them up. Everyone deserves humanity. There is always something we can do to help, whether it is financial, time or effort. People need care.”

Since moving to Penticton, Markewich has been working hard to open up his own tattoo shop, Black Petal Tattoo. It will be located on Lakeshore Drive, right across from the S.S. Sicamous.

After his grand opening June 1 and when things get more settled, Markewich plans on hosting an annual charity flash day to continue helping those in need.

“A flash day is when you try to get as many people out getting small, pre-designed tattoos as possible to raise money. 100 per cent of it will go to charity. I want to do my best to reinvest into the community,” Markewich explains.

“I’ve gone through some really hard times but I'm just thankful that it never got to the point that it overcame me. All I can do is really be better and help people along the way."

Markewich met his wife, Brooke, in Kelowna, and she was the one who inspired the move to Penticton. They are now building a house in Okanagan Falls, where she was born and raised, and have been here since October 2020.

“Why I love living here is a three-pronged answer,” he explains.

“The atmosphere and the environment is just incredible. I love the weather and being in the woods. I was driving up to the house we are building, and the sun was shining through the trees and I saw a marmot and a bunch of deer, and have seen some bears. It’s just a really cool place and it’s absolutely gorgeous. I also love the community. Everyone is super chill, and very welcoming. I am covered in tattoos and I know that can make me an outcast and judged, but everyone here is so welcoming, it's nice to have that. Lastly, after living in Vancouver and Kelowna, I love the infrastructure. Penticton is so convenient, there are a lot of options of where you can go and there's never any traffic.”

Markewich got his first tattoo at the age of 20 of a deer and with three roses, but began tattooing in 2016.

“I think I have a really unique style. I'm pretty versatile as to what I do. A lot of artists are very niche but I like to provide more than one style, while keeping my skills honed so that I'm still good at what I do. There are a lot of great artists around here,” says Markewich.

Black Petal Tattoo will be the Okanagan’s first beachside tattoo shop.

“This new studio is something that I have always wanted. I've always enjoyed working in other people's shops but there's a certain vibe I like to cultivate when I tattoo. I love black, earth tones and keep it very natural, inspiring, and comfortable with natural light. It has a cool vibe. It’s been three months of grinding away doing renovations with early mornings and late nights but I don't want it to be just another tattoo shop. It will be something new and special for my old and new clients. I plan to offer quality work, the absolute best I can, with a good solid team of friendly, great people. I want to be part of the community too, and not just another hole in the wall shop. Right now it is just me and my apprentice, Annika, at the moment and I’m already looking to expand the team."

Another unique addition is that when provincial health restrictions allow, he plans to keep a day free a week for walk-in tattoo clients and be open on weekends.

For someone who is interested in getting into tattooing, Markewich advises: “Get tattooed! Find an artist you identify with, someone that would be a good mentor and lastly, draw draw draw! Draw until you're absolutely sick of drawing. Don’t show up with a half baked portfolio. Tattooing is something you need to dedicate your entire life to. It is more like a craft or a trade, not a hobby. Spend your life working on it and don’t try and self teach. Learn from someone who really knows what they’re doing because tattooing can be dangerous, and you can potentially kill someone, so you need to learn from someone you look up to and know.”

Black Petal will be playing a nice mix of metal, hip hop and instrumentals but expect to hear "Walk" by Pantera, which is his favourite song to tattoo to.

Make sure to check out Markewich’s tattoo artistry on Instagram @blackpetal.tattoo and @huemantattoo, and book an appointment with him at www.blackpetal.tattoo.

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