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Hand Poke Tattoos

Hand Poke Tattoos

Coming from someone with a DIY mindset, a punk history and gypsy in the fam and soul - let's just say the hand poke style of tattooing is something I'm fond of. This intriguing machine-free tattooing has all the feels, 5-stars and a big tick from me.

Do I actually have old-school DIY punk style tattoos? Well, I remember in the mid 80s hanging out at the local Milk Bar in regional Australia and running a mile when a sketchy backyard tattooist approached me with a sewing needle and some pen-ink (India ink wouldn't have been easy to obtain outback in the sticks). I imagine I was more shit-scared of the good ol' fashioned "backhander" I would have received from my old man than the actual process of being tattooed with his granny's sewing needle that would have been used in a few backyard garages by the time he approached an 11 year old.

Hi Mum and Dad... yeah I know.. the butterflies I got tattooed on my foot by our fave local bikie and how I'd run from the bathroom to my bedroom so no one could see them because in your eyes I was still underage. You got me in the end.

Thankfully another opportunity came up in the 90s in the back of a New Age traveller's truck in the mountains of Spain. My tattooist used a car battery to power his machine and I reveled in the leopard print he free handily tattooed on my upper arm. These were days before you could purchase leopard print down the high street and it was pure rock n roll!

I felt complete.. until now.. hand poke tattoos are back and here to stay and I want in. The romantic idea of hand poke, also known as stick-and-poke, having DIY origins in underground subcultures is right up my stream. The minimal hand poked designs (that can also be detailed by a good tattooist) does it for me as does the tribal notion and history that dates as far back as Egyptian mummies being tattooed.

2023 and thankfully here at Roxxi & Sioux's Tattoo Studio we're all about infection control and have a wealth of experience around cross contamination . Jump aboard the safe sterile train where all the tattoos made at Roxxi's are done in a clean and sterile environment, always using new needles and used equipment is safely disposed of. Safety first where hand poked tattooing can be done with the intent of being DIY, tribal and punk AF, although in a safe and sterile environment with no cross contamination and where blood borne viruses are kept the hell away.

Hand Poke Tattoo at Roxxi & Sioux Tattoo Parlour Fitzroy

So what exactly is a hand poked tattoo and how is it achieved?

Stick-and-poke. Yep, stick and poke. The needle is dipped into the ink and then poked into the skin. This takes time, dot by dot. I'm sure you've picked up by now stick-and-poke tattoos are made without the use of the electric tattoo machines that are used for most tattooing in 2023 and rather the needle is a thin piece of metal (kind of like a welding rod but shorter with a small knob like bit on the end) is used to poke the ink into the skin.

Do hand poked tattoos hurt when being done?

*sigh.. yes, tattoos may hurt and everyone is different (that ol' chestnut). Unlike me living out my badass days, make sure you use a professional tattooist because infection and/or a blood borne virus will hurt more. The hand poke tattoo aftercare procedure is generally the same as machine made tattoos: Hand poked tattoo ink may not scab and itch as much and it's been noted that stick and poke tattoos don't take as long to heal.

You may have chosen a different technique of tattooing that has punk and tribal undertones but tattoo aftercare is still number one priority. Skin bandages/second skin are still used with advice from your friendly and knowledgeable tattoo artist on how long to keep a second skin on for. Once the second skin comes off you can use light cleanser, we prefer plant-based and vegan skincare/aftercare and then apply your tattoo aftercare balm - and you know we have you covered there too. All the same rules apply when thinking of water and sunlight throughout the tattoo healing period. Keep away from it.

I'm thrilled and proud to say that here at Roxxi & Sioux Tattoo studio we have an experienced and reputable stick and poke tattoo artist in the house. Starting out in Colombia, Sara Caro has been hand poking tattoos for five years and then some... and she gets the innate tribal connection and DIY roots.

Using single-use disposable tools, myth busting that hand poke tattoos don't last as long as machine-made tattoos, Sara get's the ink deep enough for the skin to take but not enough to blowout. Sara's also an environmental conservationist/activist and her awesome hand poke tattoo designs reflect this, you can see where her influences come from. Sara is able to hand poke custom designs too - take your place in the Roxxi/Sara line; 'cause I'm next!

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