“Stick and Poke” is a kind of tattooing that involves using a sharp point and some “ink.” Also known as a stick n poke, Hand Tattoo or a DIY Tattoo, Stick and Poke is an ancient form of body art that has thought to show various significance in the long history of human experience on earth. Health, birth, death, rites of passage and other rituals & ceremonies have historically been reasons for tattooing in almost all ancient cultures spanning the entire globe. Those tattoos have been of the stick and poke variety.
How to stick and poke tattoo: Simply dip a fine tip into something dark and liquid, and then poke into some skin – not all the way through the skin, just into it. An interesting epidermal/biological phenomenon traps this foreign dark substance into the skin, to be displayed through the top layers for life. This achieves the same effect as the modern tattoo machine (also called a tattoo gun), and is permanent when done correctly. It is a slow process and is usually painful.
The trick is doing it with desired and predictable results and doing it safely, to prevent the spread of infection or disease.
To properly Stick and Poke Tattoo you need these things: a sterile sharp thing such as a needle, sterile clean toxin-free inky thing, such as tattoo ink, sanitary wipes and rubbing alcohol, medical gloves, a clean surface, witch-hazel to calm the skin, an ointment for after-care and a bandaid for your boo-boo. If you want a nice design, you’ll need a stencil. Access to warm soapy water is a plus. And “green soap” is great to have for wiping during the process.
Popularity: Prisons and middle schools were likely places for the practice in the 20th century. A sewing needle and pen ink (although not ideal materials), are the only two things one really needs, and these are very accessible. Without access to a tattooing machine, and with lots of time and perhaps pent-up angst (or inspiration), we can understand the inclination. Now popular culture has embraced this type of body art, and stars such as Miley Cyrus and the cast of Lena Dunham’s HBO show, Girls sport stick and pokes.
But, why do it yourself? Perhaps it is “DIY” coming into vogue, or a push back to the modern age of perfection & automation. Or just wanting to do this sensitive ritual at home with friends and without the cost and possible stress of working with a stranger. Whatever the reason, all kinds of people today are marking themselves with ink and loving every imperfect minute.
Want one? Take a look at our Stick and Poke Tattoo kits and please poke safely!