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Stick and Poke Tattoo — Everything You Need to Know

Trust me, when I say that a majority of us picked up newer and more creative hobbies during the quarantine. Starting from baking to solving puzzles, each one of us tried to blend in with the unusual. However, amid the newer predispositions, stick and poke tattoos come forth as some of the more intriguing indulgences, led by the DIY vibe they carry. 

Why embrace a Stick and Poke Tattoo

I hope you are aware of the fact that conventional tattooing i.e. the one involving a tattoo machine, can be resource-intensive and expensive. A machine-done tattoo needs you to purchase tubes and cables, which might be a tad difficult to source for a standard tattoo artist in you. A stick-and-poke tattoo circumvents the existing needs. 

Simplifying further, Stick and Poke Tattooing is simply non-electric tattooing, which still requires expertise. In the subsequent section, I aim to project every aspect of stick-and-poke tattoos whilst trying to empower tattoo artists and professionals with the requisite skills and strategies. 

What is a stick-and-poke tattoo

As mentioned, a stick-and-poke tattoo doesn’t actually depend on electric tools. This is what makes them super affordable to pursue and even include as a part of your bodily canvas. When it comes to the exact nature of the process, tattoo ink is gradually applied onto the skin surface whilst attaching a DIY analog tattoo machine i.e. a bespoke one with a needle clinging onto a rod-like, tight contraption.

Once the tattoo-grade needle holds steadfastly onto the skin surface, it is slowly and strategically dipped into the ink. The excess ink clinging onto the surface of the tip of the tattoo needle is used to create the design, in a dotted fashion.

Essential Aspects to Consider before getting Stick and Poke Tattoos

In the subsequent sections, I shall enlist some of the key pointers regarding stick-and-poke tattoos and the aspects that need to be covered before envisioning this form of tattooing as a more permanent form of creative work.

1] Most Stick-and-Poke Tattoos are Safe

As stick-and-poke tattooing ditches electric tools, it is right to presume that it is a relatively safe procedure. While skin rupturing is still there, the smaller scale of the wounds ensures that you need not shave off the entire region as a preparatory scheme. Sterilization is still necessary if you want a DIY tattoo to be made but the risk of infections is fewer.

2] Amount of Pain is Subjective

If you are worried about the pain, a stick-and-poke tattoo might or might not be the one for you. Unlike a machine tattoo, a DIY stick and poke concern the steady movement of a tattoo needle on the skin surface. As the ruptures are smaller and more targeted, some clients might experience more discomfort while getting the design etched. 

Therefore, it would be better to state that the pain duration is less but the extent is still alarming as DIY tattoo artists push the needle and associated tattoo ink, into the skin surface, repeatedly. The end result follows stinging, swelling, and even burning at times.

Plus, your choice of body part is also important when it comes to gauging the extent of pain, associated with a stick and poke tattoo. However, it is better to avoid sensitive areas like the inner ankle to keep the sensations to a minimum. 

3] Slower Process

Both tattoo artists and clients should know that stick and poke is a relatively slow process, despite catering to a smaller work area. The process to get one made takes a longer time than machine-done tattoos. With stick and poke, professionals literally need to handcraft multiple dots, one at a time. Starting from darkening the tattoo to filling the lines, the process in itself can get tedious and slower than preferred.

4] Still Versatile

If someone tells you that stick and poke tattoos aren’t versatile, do anything but believe. A standard stick-and-poke tattoo has enough potential to usurp the brilliance of a machine-done tattoo, provided the tattoo artist has enough skills at his or her end. Be it getting classic grunge of a stick and poke tattoo or something more effervescent, there are several options to pursue. 

Also, if you are ready to sit through a tedious hand poke tattoo process where getting the body art up takes time, you can even expect bigger, brighter, and more versatile tattoos. 

5] Faster Healing

Regardless of the variance pertaining to different stick and poke tattoos, it is important to note that they heal a lot faster than the ones made using electricity as the power source. The tattoo aftercare process pertaining to the stick and poke designs is also quite straightforward, as you only need to repeatedly wash the area with warm water or distilled water, and soap has antibacterial properties. 

An ointment needs to be applied as well followed by an unscented lotion to minimize the chances of contamination. Fewer aftercare liabilities showcase the fact that sticks and Pokes are easy to heal.

Also, if you have made up your mind to get a hand-poked tattoo as lasting body art, you must know exactly what healing strategies are good for the same. While not using the needle more than once is a given, especially to cut out cross-contamination, it is also necessary to ensure that you, as a tattoo artist, use medical gloves to create the concerned tattoo design. 

Much like any other tattoo, even a stick and poke can cause allergic reactions, if left unattended. Therefore, hand-poked tattoos must be followed by an instant wrap around the surface. But then, you should follow the diet-specific aftercare strategies to the letter for keeping allergic reactions to a minimum. 

6] Hand Poke Tattoos Fade Faster

While I am all game for a stick-and-poke tattoo, it is important to understand that you probably won’t have the opportunity to grow old with one. A hand poke tattoo, where the tattoo process involves manual dots, is prone to fading faster as more often than not the ink doesn’t seethe all that deep.

The pokes, despite being initiated by professional tattoo artists, are hardly as deep as the penetration provided by a tattoo machine. However, one tip to make them last a tad longer is to use paper towels for rubbing the surface instead of frequenting the tattooed area with finger wipes.

But then, the tattoo fading can be a good thing for a person who wants something less permanent. If you are one such person, a stick-and-poke tattoo allows you to first try out the design in person. If you end up loathing it, it will disappear on its own. However, if you like design, you can always lend a bit of permanency to it. 

Also, a hand poke tattoo means that the control of ink insertion lies in the hands of the artist. While you push a single needle into the skin repeatedly, the ink dispersion might vary depending on the expertise. If the poke is subdued, the ink hardly makes it through the dermis. However, if it’s way too deep, the ink blows out and causes blurring or sorts. 

7] Pocket-Friendly

If the exorbitant cost of getting a tattoo made is the reason for procrastination, it might just be the time to invest in DIY tattoos. Unlike a professional stick that often charges a fortune, any tattoo design envisioned using the stick and poke tattoo-making process is expected to cost a lot less. Put simply, you might even be surprised to find how affordable Stick and Pokes can be as the process usually involves a traditional sewing needle, tattoo ink, and the expertise of the tattoo artist. 

However, the lesser price tag shouldn’t impact the quality and if you are a person looking to get inked, you must ensure that every single needle is sterilized to avoid cross-contamination whilst bleeding. As a stick-and-poke tattoo isn’t hard to create, you might have a friend lurking around, already working as an artist.

In case you want to be safe whilst the artist uses a single needle to poke ink into your body, it is better to connect with a friend instead of a stranger. Also, a friend will give you a bigger discount on a hand poke tattoo.

Where to find the right stick-and-poke tattoo artist

Connecting with a reputed artist is important if you are serious about the stick and poke. Regardless of the person you connect with as a customer, it is necessary to look for cleaner spaces, sterilized tools, and high-quality tattoo ink.

Why are DIY Tattoos often more popular than traditional ones

Stick-and-poke tattoos have been popularized by celebrities like Miley Cyrus. However, much before she tried a stick-and-poke tattooing stint, the same was religiously followed across ancient Egypt with the major part of the tattooing focusing on effective needle usage, skincare, discomfort remediation, and implementation of tools to make contraption easier and more comfortable.

Also, stick and poke tattooing offers a sense of personalization as the tattoos are mostly smaller and you do not need to rely on a rotary pen, coil machine, or any other complex piece of hardware. Not to mention, stick and poke tattoos are specifically handcrafted and ensure that your tattooing excellence isn’t dependent on the quality of the pen machine in play but only on the skill of the artist.

Finally, the level of precision concerning this form of body art is exemplary as only manual tools are used and the attention to detail is virtually second to none. Plus, a hand poke tattoo prepares you perfectly for the next tattoo, which might be a bit more permanent in nature. 

How to Prepare the Skin for a Stick and Poke

Although a stick and poke tattoo is a lot less equipment-centric as compared to machine tattoos, you would still need to prepare the skin surface. A good way is to first make the skin surface supple enough whilst washing it using water and soap. Also, if you are a professional and not the client, you must seek the personal data of the person getting inked to know more about the skin allergies, before proceeding.

It is important to render the skin soft enough for easier poking using needles. Only if you can push the needles to the requisite depth, the skin absorbs ink properly and the tattoo has a lesser chance of fading. Also, you must refrain from stretching the skin surface too much while poking at it might minimize the depth of the hit. 

Are Stick and Poke a Good Idea

A stick-and-poke tattoo is arguably the best way to get inked if you want to start small before escalating to a more habitual form of body art. While the discomfort might not be as unflinching as expected, the learning curve associated with a stick and poke is pretty short. This means you might end up finding friends who specialize in DIY designs and can haggle with them better.

Final Words

Stick and Pokes are perfect if you have a penchant for smaller tattoos and lesser chances of blowouts. Plus, setting up equipment for the same cannot get any easier as the entire approach is about not using electricity but the manual expertise of the concerned professional. 

Robert Green

Robert Green, the brain and brawn behind TattooLous is a tattoo enthusiast and a raging bullbat. After getting 20 tattoos made and even working as a professional tattoo artist for almost 5 years at a stretch, Robert chose to contribute towards the tattooing community in a different yet rewarding manner. Robert believes that the tattoo-making industry is rife with possibilities and, therefore, strives towards educating budding tattoo artists about the choice of kits, machines, aftercare products, and more. Moreover, each of Robert’s drafts is even relevant to the professional tattoo experts who are seeking additional insights into exclusive products and accessories.

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