So you’ve been admiring the amazing art form of hand poked tattoos and you now want to learn how to do them yourself. Firstly, we don’t blame you. Secondly, preparation for this historic but ageless technique is key. As it has it’s serious risks if the correct precautions aren’t taken. You’ll obviously learn and improve with experience and practice, but it’s crucial you take the time to get familiar with the process before diving in. To make things easier, we’ve put together a list of 7 ways to prepare for your stick and poke tattoo.
Do your research
First up, it’s super important to research this incredible art form before going ahead and creating your first stick and poke tattoo. Learning about how to safely hand poke to avoid serious health risks is the most crucial aspect. You can do this by reading informative stick and poke blogs (like ours) and watching videos on the topic. After you’ve got this nailed, you can start to research the technique side of things. A great way to do this is to follow stick and poke artists on social media, as they often post their tips and tricks. Joining hand poke groups online can also be helpful for this, as you can post your questions and get responses from artists and enthusiasts. Single Needle have their own Facebook group that’s perfect for this. Click here to join the group.
We recommend getting your practice in before poking on real skin. As it’s a great way to get used to the process of hand poking. You can buy practice kits, which include practice silicone ‘skins’. These are a great way to test ideas and generally prepare for holding a needle and the motion of poking before going ahead on human skin. These kits can also be great for testing out the different types of needles that are available. Try making a reference chart for future designs. To make these silicone skins even more realistic, try wrapping them around a bottle to mimic human curves. Some people prefer to poke on fruit like oranges, as they’re naturally curved and textured.
Think about design and placement
Now for the exciting part. Deciding what tattoo design you’re going to create and where on your body you’re going to place it. With hand poked tattoos using a single needle, they often take longer than machine tattoos. This is something to bear in mind when deciding on a design, as more complex designs will take longer. Depending on your pain threshold, you might be okay with this but if not, then go for a more simple design. Talking of pain threshold, the placement of your tattoo could be influenced by this too. With some areas of the body being more painful to poke than others, many people decide on the placement of their tattoo based on this. Some areas that are commonly more painful include: hands, ears and feet. In short, areas that are close to the bone are generally more painful than fleshier areas.
Buy professional products
You want your stick and poke tattoo to look it’s best. Investing in professional products will give you the best chance of achieving this. You’ve probably heard of people using sewing needles and India ink for their hand poked tattoos. But we recommend using professional needles and ink, as this is the safe, sterile option and it’s also affordable. Not to mention sewing needles can often be blunt, whereas using sharp, professional needles will make your tattoo lines look more clean and solid. A lot of people like to use hand poke tools to make the poking process more comfortable. These can range from tubes that you place your needle in, to tape that you wrap around your needle. Using these tools make the needle more chunky, meaning it’s easier to hold and gives you more control. Our friends at Single Needle have a range of professional supplies available, which you can view here.
Organise your space
Creating a workspace that’s organised is key for a seamless stick and poke process. This way you’ll have everything you need to hand and won’t be awkwardly reaching for items mid-tattoo. A key item to prepare in your setup is tattoo wipes. These are used for wiping away excess ink as you’re tattooing. Our friends at Single Needle have the S8 Tattoo Towels available, which are compact into little tablets, meaning they’re great for storage. They’re also kinder to skin and are more durable, compared to paper towels. It’s also super important for your workspace to be sterile. You can prepare this by using antibacterial spray on your area and then covering it with a medical grade surface cover. Having good lighting in your workspace will also help with the process.
Prepare the skin
Once your workspace is prepared, it’s time to get your chosen area of skin ready. To achieve this, wash it with warm water and soap. You’ll also need to shave the area with a clean, disposable razor. Next, using an alcoholic wipe, carefully clean the skin where you intend to create your tattoo and the surrounding area.
Go for it
You’re now ready to start poking. Take your time and don’t rush the process. Just like with most things in life, the more you practice, the better you’ll get. So even if you aren’t over the moon with your first stick and poke, keep practicing and finding out what works for you. Don’t forget to tag us in your creations on Instagram at @stick_n_poke_tattoos. Good luck!
To learn more about stick and poking, have a read of the other blog posts on our website.
Or if you need to top up on your hand poked supplies, our friends at Single Needle have got a wide range available, which you can view here.