It’s a cold, gloomy October night in Binghamton. As you try desperately to think of some way to procrastinate all of your homework, you realize you have a friend who told you they could give you a stick and poke tattoo! Great idea, right? Here are a few things to consider before you decide to get one.
What is a stick and poke?
The stick and poke tattoo method is becoming a DIY alternative to traditional tattooing, where a needle is dipped into ink and then into the skin. The tattoos do not normally last as long as professionally done tattoos, but this is part of the reason that people are drawn to them. They are simple and less permanent than a traditional tattoo, meaning they will fade more quickly. However, you can always touch it up later on, or even have a professional go over it and make it more permanent. Stick and poke tattoos are also generally inexpensive. It is easy to have a friend give you one for free, especially when professional tattoos can cost upward of $100 at a tattoo parlor.
Stick and pokes are usually created with a sewing needle, thread or dental floss and ink. All these items that can be found around the house, a fact that has greatly contributed to the growing popularity of the method. Stick and poke tattoo kits and tools are also widely available online, and are generally a safer idea. Most kits provide everything you will need to tattoo, including gloves, needles, ink and instructions.
There are some health risks involved in doing a DIY tattoo. As with any other form of tattoo, people using the stick and poke process are at risk of developing a skin infection, especially because these tattoos are typically done at home in unsanitary environments by nonprofessionals. That’s why it’s extremely important to prepare and disinfect an area before starting the procedure. Additionally, be aware that your body could have an allergic reaction to the ink you’re using. If you’re concerned about this, stick to black ink, which is widely considered the safest ink to use to avoid infections and reactions.
The stick and poke process involves repeatedly poking into the surface of the skin with a needle. It will hurt, and it will take a longer time to complete than a normal tattoo would. Normally the tattooer will have to go over the lines they made multiple times to ensure the lines are filled. Once the design is finished, aftercare should be done virtually the same way as with a conventional tattoo. Clean the tattooed area with green soap or rubbing alcohol and distilled water, apply antiseptic ointment and bandage.
Should you try it?
There are two main questions you should ask yourself before you decide to get a stick and poke tattoo. First, can you handle the pain?
Hanna Fritsch, a freshman majoring in biology at Binghamton University who has given herself three stick and poke tattoos over the last five years, said it feels like “being stabbed over and over again by a needle.” She believes that most people would not want a large stick and poke tattoo because they take a long time, and the process is very painful. So, if you are interested in getting a big, complex or long-lasting tattoo piece done, stick and poke will likely not be the most efficient method. It might be worth it to break the bank and invest in a professionally done tattoo at a tattoo parlor.
“Doing a larger stick and poke would be off the table for most people,” Fritsch said. “They don’t want to be there for an hour and a half being stabbed.”
Secondly, do you want to choose to do stick and poke rather than going to a tattoo parlor?
One of the biggest reasons these tattoos are becoming so popular is because of the aesthetic and trendiness they offer.
“People want to show that they’re different,” Fritsch said. “Like how people pierce their nose at home.”
Stick and poke tattoos will mainly appeal to people who want to save some money and are not super serious about getting “real” tattoos. If you are into the “I can do it myself” movement that stick and pokes have come to be a part of, be safe and start poking!