While standard machine tattooing is all about the much-anticipated results, stick and poke tattooing is more concerned with the tattoo experience. That being said, are you more interested in the final destination or the journey to get there?
In this article, we’ll touch on the holistic experience of getting a stick and poke tattoo, discuss how it compares to getting tattooed by a machine, and offer suggestions for what is right for you.
Stick and Poke vs. Machine Tattoos
Stick and poke tattooing is a uniquely intimate and manual process. Using a sterilized traditional tattoo needle, a grip, and some body safe ink, hand poked tattoos are achieved by a series of individual punctures made over and over into the skin. The puncture marks create small dots on the skin that come together to form solid lines. Because the dots have to be manually inserted to create these lines, stick and poke tattoos are a slow and meticulous process.
Alternatively, getting tattooed by a machine is an extremely efficient process. Tattoo machines allow the artist to deposit far more ink in a short span of time with solid lines forming in a matter of minutes. Bear in mind that both hand poke and machine tattooing processes penetrate the skin deeply enough to produce a crisp, long-lasting, and attractive tattoo. However, tattoo machines are preferable for those looking to get large-scale work because machines are able to deliver the end result much more quickly. Nonetheless, some people prefer the organic experience of getting a hand poked piece. Additionally, while some people love the tell-tale buzzing of a coil tattoo machine, others prefer the quiet, almost meditative process of stick and poke tattooing, which can help build a foundation between the artist and client.
Are stick and poke tattoos safe?
When done correctly, stick and poke tattoos are just as safe a process as getting tattooed by a machine. Just like professional tattoo studios, it’s important that you use your discretion and look out for some key things. Your chosen artist should follow standard hygiene procedures, use sterile equipment, and work in a safe, clean environment.. Stick and poke kits consisting of professional-grade equipment can be purchased online, and these kits are a much safer alternative to the spare sewing materials, pen ink, and other no-nos that make up some DIY kits. These DIY stick and poke kits and tattoos done at home are risky, unnecessarily painful, and can produce scarring, blowouts, or infections in place of what was supposed to be a cute, simple design. Although the DIY tattoo experience can make for an intimate memory, using safe and sterile materials in a clean environment will help to prevent infection and ensure the resulting tattoo is a worthy memorial of the holistic experience.
What is the aftercare process for a stick and poke tattoo?
While stick and poke tattoos take longer to create, the healing process is typically much faster. Tattoos done with a machine can take upwards of three weeks to heal, depending on the size of the piece. Stick and poke tattoos, on the other hand, can fully heal between one to two weeks’ time. This is because stick and poke tattoos are generally much smaller and cause significantly less trauma to the skin.
You can encourage a healthy healing process for your stick and poke tattoo by following a professional artist’s instructions. This usually involves leaving your bandage on for as long as instructed, then cleaning your tattoo regularly approximately two to three times per day using a mild antimicrobial soap. Cleaning is supplemented with chemical-free balms and butters, like Recovery Tattoo Salve. We offer a variety of Recovery tattoo aftercare products to care for any new and existing tattoo.
You may want to heal your new tattoo using a bandage like Recovery Derm Shield, which some claim to permit a faster healing process than balms and butters. Be sure to ask your artist’s professional opinion first and foremost for the best aftercare for you.
What kind of tattoo is right for you?
Ultimately, this depends on your personal style. If you’re seeking a vibrant, large-scale color piece done efficiently, getting tattooed with a machine is right for you. However, if you’re looking for a memorable, intimate, and organic tattooing experience — and you’re happy with a small, simple piece — stick and poke tattooing is certainly an option.
As a client, choosing your next tattoo can be difficult. There are so many factors to consider, including what and where to get tattooed, your personal budget, the wide variety of professional artists and shops, and, of course, your pain tolerance. Learn more information about tattoos and tattooing on our PainfulPleasures blog.