Do Stick and Poke Tattoos Take Longer Than Machine Tattoos?

With more and more people getting stick and poke tattoos today, questions are arising regarding the difference between the two techniques.

One of the most common ones is “do stick and poke tattoos take longer than machine tattoos?”. Well, the short answer is yes, this style of inking does take longer as it requires more patience. But, to understand why stick and poke tattoos take longer than machine ones, let’s take a closer look at the difference between the two techniques.

Hand poked broken ribs by Holy Cactus source

The Difference Between a Stick and Poke Tattoo and a Machine Tattoo

While both stick and poke tattoos and machine tattoos create permanent body modifications, the techniques are very different. With a machine tattoo, the artist uses a machine that has a motor attached to a needle. This motor makes the needle move up and down, puncturing the skin between 50 and 3,000 times per minute.

The stick and poke technique, on the other hand, involves using a handheld tattoo needle to create every single puncture individually. The person tattooing will create hundreds of dots that will eventually form a line. Even though the same type of needle and ink is used, the process is much slower.

Factors That Affect the Length of a Stick and Poke Tattoo

While a stick and poke tattoo does take longer, various factors can affect the length of the process. Here are some of them:


Regardless of the style of tattoo you get, the bigger the design, the longer it will take. However, this is especially true with hand poked tattoos. Stick and pokes require exceptional precision for the lines to look even and neat. With this in mind, the larger the tattoo, the longer it will take as you will have to pause often to get a full view of how the tattoo looks.

‘Meow’ done with the Stick and Poke Tattoo Kit by Sky Amber source


The design also plays a key role in determining how long a stick and poke tattoo takes. Typically, smaller designs are a lot quicker and easier to create. That being said, if the design has a lot of small details it will take longer and you may even have to switch between different sized needles in order to achieve the desired final result.

Hanging clothes by Siqboi source


Many of the stick and poke tattoos you see online will be in black, however, you do have the option to also use color. If you want to create colored lines, the process is more or less the same as when using black ink. But, if you want to create blocks of color, the process takes considerably longer to achieve an even tone. This is because every section of color is made up of dozens of individual dots.

Hand poked color velociraptor by Pawpoke source

What to Expect With a Stick and Poke Tattoo

The overall experience of a stick and poke tattoo is different from that of a machine. In fact, the sensory experience of the two doesn’t really compare. The machine tattoo involves a lot of noise, a scratching feeling against the skin, and you can expect different end results. With a stick and poke, there is no noise, the sensation resembles that of individual stings rather than scratching, and the style is also unique from that of a machine.

Two other expectations you should be prepared for include:

Multiple Touch-Ups Throughout the Session

Because the line of a tattoo during a stick and poke involves multiple dots, it can be difficult to see if they are well joined. Typically, the first layer of dots isn’t dark enough to make crisp and uniform lines. As a result, you’ll have to go over the outline multiple times to make it look good.

These multiple touch-ups during the session apply to all elements of the tattoo. From the lines to the internal details, colors, and everything in between, you need to be prepared to go over everything you do at least twice more if you want your tattoo to look good.

Multiple Sessions for Larger Tattoos

In addition to multiple touch-ups during your tattoo, larger pieces will require more than one session. Just as a machine artist would split a large design into multiple sessions, the same applies to stick and pokes. The main difference is that what would take two to three sessions with a machine could take up to six or more with the stick and poke technique.

Do you want to create your own designs from the comforts of your home? If so, check out our online store to find out more about our stick and poke tattoo kits. We offer a selection of DIY kits, all of which come with professional equipment so that you can achieve the best results possible.