Have you seen those tattoos people claim they have made with just a stick blowing up on Instagram lately?

Stick and poke tattoos have been becoming an increasingly favourable choice. Simply put, stick and poke tattoos or hand-poked tattoos are made freestyle, without the use of a machine. They are made when artists push needle and ink into the skin manually instead of a machine. The supplies however remain similar.

Using a rod-like apparatus to push the ink in, artists are able to create multiple dots that make up the lines and shading of the tattoo.

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They are said to be less abrasive on the skin and tend to hurt less as they are done. Many claim that they also heal faster.

As each dot is made manually, these tattoos can take a little longer to make. A size bigger than 5X5” can prove to be a little ambitious and may have to be done in multiple sittings.

“Hand poke tattoos are very distinctive in their look; different styles can be achieved with the technique but there is no mistaking a hand poked tattoo against a machine tattoo. To me they look much more organic,” says trained tattooist Sarah March to Cosmopolitan.

What seems to draw people to these tattoos is the ease. They feel easier to access and much more low pressure to get. Tattooing with a machine requires expensive supplies, like cables and tubes you’d have some trouble sourcing spontaneously. That is not the case with hand-poked tattoos.

Although, doctors recommend going to a trained professional and not just doing them yourself or having a friend do them on you, as has been trending on social media.

Not only would that ensure that you have not just permanently put down on your body a tattoo that does not match the intricacy you envisioned, a professional would also be well versed with the practice of hygiene and sanitation in such a situation.

“If carried out by a professional it’s as safe as any tattoo. All equipment is either disposable or sterilised and a professional artist will have been trained in health and safety,” said March.

These tattoos are just as permanent as the machine kinds, provided they are done properly and cared for as they should be.

“This has been going on for thousands of years,” says New York tattoo artist Jenna Bouma to Glamour. “In a historical sense, non-electric tattoos have been used as a status marker, an expression of beauty, and an open act of rebellion. It was and still is important to certain cultural groups. But what truly has made this form of tattooing popular in a modern sense is Instagram.”


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Many seem to call the experience more personal and owing to the lack of a buzzing machine, even calming. The back-to-basics approach to tattoos can especially be for anyone who thinks of tattoo machines as cold.

If you do end up deciding to get one, consider getting at least the first done by a professional, on your legs or arms as the pain tends to be easier to manage.

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