How To Give Yourself A Stick and Poke Tattoo

Cause sometimes you want to adorn yourself, prison style.

I’ve been planning to get a tattoo done professionally for a while. It will be a tattoo honoring my grandmother, a bouquet of her favorite flowers, the daisies, inked on the back of my left arm. Nice, right? But I keep putting it off due to not having the money, the time, or the desire to walk into a tattoo studio, and so the plan just sits in the back of my mind, bugging me.

Stick and poke ‘this is a test’ tattoo by Tullen.

A few weeks ago, I’d been thinking about how badly I wanted a tattoo, though, and I got to thinking about stick-and-pokes. You know – counter culture, rebellious, punk rock, DIY tattoos that involve a needle, some tattoo ink, a few more supplies, and thoroughly washed hands. Yes, the ones that friends do on each other at home or parties, cause much concern for health and safety, and get a bad reputation, some times deservedly, from the tattoo industry. I knew that, obviously, I couldn’t give myself my dream tattoo mentioned above because I knew I’d screw it up, but why not something simpler?

Hand poked face by Alpha Omega.

I’ve always been creative, hands-on, and highly tolerant of pain, so it seemed like the perfect project. I looked up a few different blogs and tutorials online and got to work.

By the way, if you’re feeling brave enough and are not completely disgusted by the idea and decide to get one yourself and you get a weird blood disease or it turns out ugly, I will not be held responsible. Seriously.

First things first, you want to figure out what you want a tattoo of, and where you want it to be. Make sure the area is not near a mucous membrane. Get a pen and scrawl different designs in different places to determine the placement. You can always wash it off at this stage if you’re not happy with it. Once you’re satisfied with your choice and happy with the placement, it’s time to gather the supplies.

You’ll need an sterile needle, tattoo ink, an alcohol swab, nitrile gloves, a medical covering cloth, a disposable razor, an stencil and transfer lubricant, ink cups, wipes, and an aftercare balm packet. Having a regenerative tattoo film, and a grip and a wooden depressor. And you will also need to prepare a flat and clean area where you will place all the supplies.

Hand poked north star tattoo on the ankle by billions of galaxies.

Start by transferring your design into a stencil paper. Once you have transferred the design into the selected body area, continue by washing your hands extra-thoroughly with hot water and soap for a good minute or so, and then dry them on a clean towel.

Put your gloves and place the disposable protection cloth on the flat and clean area, and place on top of it all the tattoo supplies.

Now you can start putting together your needle. Take the needle out of the blister, grab the grip and wrap it around the needle.

Grab a bit of the aftercare balm and place it spread it on the protection cloth. Now place the ink cup on top, this way you will prevent the cup from falling. Fill the cup with tattoo ink. By the way, tattoo ink is the only stuff you should be using. Anything else is toxic. Do not break open a ballpoint pen and use that. You’ll get a horrific infection, or worse.

It’s time to ink up the needle. Dip the tip of the needle right in and you are ready for pokin’ time. Start light. Stretch the skin with one hand, and with your ink-covered needle, poke a hole into your design wherever you want to start, and continue along your line until you’ve completed. If you don’t stretch the skin is bouncy and you could hit the wrong spot and it doesn’t go in as clean.

In order for the ink to stay and your tattoo not to fade, you need to break through the top and second layer of skin. If you’re in a perfectly silent room, you’ll be able to hear and feel an eerily satisfying pop as it goes through each layer. Another way to tell is when you pull the needle out, your skin is tugged along with it. It’s kind of gross, and you might bleed in some spots, so keep a wipe in the hand. Also be aware that some holes will not hurt at all, while others will make you want to shout. It all depends where you are on the bone, etc.

Hand poked ‘Bite me’ sweethearts by the Tatt Bratt.

Oh, and another thing: Once your tattoo is healed and the swelling has gone down, you’re bound to notice some spots you missed. This is because your skin puffs up when it gets poked, so you can’t see the finer little details that will eventually shrink when your skin reverts to normal. My crescent moon took two touch-ups before I was satisfied with the outline, so be prepared to go through this process more than once (and wait a few days in between each session).

And of course, I couldn’t finish this article without an amazing product recommendation, now could I?

Once your tat’s on the road to recovery, keep it in tip-top shape with an amazing tattoo moisturizer. It’s all-natural and full of antioxidants that help with healing and make tattoos appear brighter and more beautiful.

Feel free to tell me how stupid I am, or how unsafe this is, blah blah blah, I don’t care, I’ve already heard it from my mom, who reads all my articles by the way — hi mom!

Hand poked dragon by Selena.