We all know DIY culture is making a comeback. This is especially true in the tattoo industry, where an ancient technique’s gone chic; Stick ‘n’ Pokes are back!!
Stick ‘n’ poke?
Stick ‘n’ Poke tattoo’s are done by hand, dot by dot, with out without a stencil, and at the artist’s own pace. Because it’s more of a DIY art-form, you almost have to partner-up and practice. In my own experience, I’ve had the pleasure of being able to S’n’P over a friend’s self-inflicted scars and saw their confidence soar!
Having been around for centuries, hand-poke tattoos may represent an individual’s rank within a society or group. Though this ranking system is mostly found in prisons, nowadays kids just want ’em it for the f_ck of it.
Like many other freshly-fifteen year-olds, I found an article on how to do your own “Prison-Style” tattoo at home. And so naturally the next day my bestfriend and I were somewhere in the woods, starting on our first ink. What I have since found out, after countless trials and errors on my own skin, was that I still regret none of my ink. Whether it’s over a covered-up a part of me that I’m too fond of (or any other part I do like), every piece I’ve ever inked has allowed me to look down and smile.
***The first and foremost thing to learn when practicing these tattoos is to be incredibly cautious about sanitation and cross contamination. Always wear plastic gloves, cover & clean all surfaces being used, and use LOTS of anti-bacterial soap. A non-scented lotion can be applied for the lining and for after-care.***
With the materials costing an overall of roughly 20$ for roughly a years worth of stick n poking, and most of these materials being household products, it’s pretty easy for us to get our grimy little hands on it. The first time I attempted mine was with a sewing needle, thread wrapped around it to hold the ink, tapped on to a pen or pencil with leadless India Ink from my local art supplies shop. Maybe a sip or two of Guinness to take the edge off…
Examples from my Portfolio
I love this last hand-poke. It represents the year I was “established”, May 21st, 1997. Being the youngest in my family and friend group, I always forgot my age and tried to grow up faster than I should. We all do this to some extent, but now I realize that I’m still young and I have quite a lot of time to kill before it’s too late. I cherish the memory of this stick’n’poke and the people I was with then, and even if we stop talking or I end up hating it (doubtful), it is part of who I am today and always will be.
These 3 pictures are all very important to me since they all came out of crustlove and friendship . The first 2 are from Conor A of The Costanza’s & The Barrel Heads. He wanted an Ocarina from Zelda & a Tricot logo. I wasn’t familiar with the Jrock band, but I dug the Ocarina idea being a Zelda fan myself. We ended up doing the tattoo at his jamspace. He lay on a car seat while people jammed and music sounded; and I poked.
When my friend/co-stencherette Devan came by the next time, we committed to getting matching P.S. tattoo’s (see above). And whether it was having her there, the smoking-up, the listening to good music, the great people around, we ended up staying much later than expected.
When our drummer (still Pussy Stench) David F asked me for something, without much of an idea, I went over and we brainstormed for a bit. What came of that was we ended up meshing a couple of my drawings together and came out with this (see bellow). The outline took about 30-45 min while the tattoo itself took about 3. (It went by fast with some blues in the background and our packs hallowing-out quicker than expected.)
As an experiment, I posted a status on Facebook that I was writing an article on the hand-poke culture and would like to hear people’s experiences with stick ‘n pokes. I got great responses:
“It hurt for the first 5 minutes and as my first tattoo it was less painful than I thought it was going to be. My artist was this cool blonde lady who took beer as currency so it worked out, I enjoyed it and still do. It was quality work and didnt need to be touched up. ”
-CC, (a good friend, and ‘TC’ chiller)
Grace M Karam
Music Editor, and Staff Writer