There is a long cultural tradition of stick and poke tattoos, and for better or worse, they are still thriving today. What started as a legitimate art form, such as the Japanese hand tattooing method known as Tebori, has descended into kids using safety pins and some ink from a Bic ballpoint pen going for that punk rock look. Of course, this has led to some god-awful tattoos and many nasty infections.
Some at-home tattoos look amazing, some of them don’t, and some of them leave people with scars that make you wonder if they were a victim of gun violence or a roadside bomb. The key is to do your research. If you are going to get a stick and poke tattoo, find someone who has trained with this method. There are a lot of amateurs out there who screw people up and do really bad art. Ultimately these amateurs are disrespecting the entire art form and ruining people’s skin with a bad design or scarring. If you venture down the risky road of at-home tattoos, you will want to know who you are dealing with and and the kind of work that they do, before you end up in a basement or garage with a group of friends and decide to give each other tattoos. And the last thing you want is to end up in a situation with poor sterilization practices, where you could end up catching some kind of infection like Hepatitis-C.
In general, do-it-yourself tattoos are frowned upon. Too often they end up causing infection or looking awful. Opponents of the practice and health experts warn that the risk of blood-borne disease and infection is too high with DIY tattoos for it to be worth it. Even worse, people often use poor quality ink which can be toxic or contaminated depending on the source. But even with the obvious dangers, the stick and poke method is becoming more popular, and more celebrities such as Rihanna and Angelina Jolie are getting them, adding to the allure of the stick and poke. The difference though, is that famous celebrities with lots of money to spend are going to places like Thailand and Japan to get stick and poke tattoos from reputable artists who have been doing them professionally for many years - a far cry from a couple of kids busting open a ballpoint pen and stabbing themselves with sewing needles while their parents are away at work.
There is a time and place for stick and poke tattoos, and more often than not, the place is not at your own home doing it to yourself or one of your friends. If you want a tattoo, I suggest going to a professional who uses clean equipment and getting a design that will look good. If you’re an amateur, leave the do-it-yourself method to prison inmates. Your skin will thank you later.