I’m sure that when you think about tattoos, the first thing you can imagine is the sound of the tattoo machine. Or maybe you’re imagining the sting of a group of needles scraping the surface of your skin. But did you know that there is another way to get inked?
Introducing hand poked tattoos, also known as stick and poke tattoos. As the name suggests, the tattoos are done with a single needle that is dipped in ink before being used to poke the skin. But don’t go around using just any needle, and especially not sewing needles.
While most tattoo artists in Singapore use a tattoo gun, there are a handful of hand poke artists. Funny thing is, hand poke tattoos were around long before the tattoo gun came along. Tebori tattoos are traditional Japanese tattoos that are done by hand. Meanwhile in Thailand, Sak Yant tattoos are done with a sharpened bamboo stick
Stick and poke tattoos aren’t as easy as they sound. When pushing the needle into the skin, the pressure must be right in order for the ink to sit well. While a hand poked tattoo may look similar to a tattoo done with a gun, there are some differences to them.
While a hand poked tattoo may look similar to a tattoo done with a gun, there are some differences to them. Hand poked tattoo styles tend to lean towards the more dot work designs (as each details is done individually).
Won’t it be more painful?
I hate to break it to you but getting a tattoo will hurt. It all depends on your pain tolerance and how sensitive your body is. While many describe the feeling of getting hand poked tattoos as getting bitten by ants, I think that you’ll be able to gauge the pain from the name itself. Just imagine being pricked by a needle constantly. If you think you’ll eventually feel numb to the pain, just think again. The pain is at a constant level throughout the session. Despite this, don’t be afraid to tell your tattoo artist if you need a short break from the poking!
Going into the tattoo studio, be prepared to expect some sort of pain and even some blood.
If you’re dreading a long healing process, I have good news for you. Hand poked tattoos can take up to a single month AT MOST to heal. For reference, that’s about how long it takes for lobe piercings to heal. Just be sure to take good care of your tattoo and keep it clean to prevent complications.
How to care for your fresh ink
Once you get a tattoo, you’ll just have the urge to look at it forever. When you first walk out of the studio, your skin will be red. As your tattoo heals and the ink sets, it will look softer as though there’s a blurring finish.
After getting the tattoo, your artist while guide you on how to care for it properly.
Generally, here’s what you’ve got to do:
- Remove the bandage your artist used for your tattoo after the mentioned duration by your artist (1-3 days)
- Wash the tattoo and the surrounding area with a FRAGRANCE and ALCOHOL FREE soap
- Any antibacterial soap is fine, just be sure to check the ingredients
- Moisturise the tattoo area with a PETROLEUM, FRAGRANCE and ALCOHOL FREE moisturiser
- You’re safest bet will be 100% aloe vera gel
- Petroleum acts as a barrier between your skin and the air. This also means it can trap dirt and may lead to an infection
- Don’t go swimming until a week after you’ve gotten your tattoo
- Don’t pick at the tattoo or the scabs
- Don’t scratch your tattoo when it itches
- Let your tattoo breathe!
Just like tattoos done by the machine, hand poke tattoos fade too. To maintain the aesthetic of your ink, you’ll probably get it touched up. Most tattoo artists also let you do a free touch-up session after your tattoo heals.
Hand poke artists in Singapore
To book an appointment, contact Scarlett via her email at email@example.com.
Where to find her:
213 Jalan Besar Road
1PM – 8PM
Instagram (Black.Dot Tattoos)
To book an appointment, contact Cia via her Instagram DMs!
Where to find her:
Fingers Crossed Studio
802 French Rd
Instagram (Fingers Crossed Studio)
To book an appointment, contact Geraldine at firstname.lastname@example.org
To book an appointment, contact Sze via her email at email@example.com.
Where to find her:
Wild Paw Tattoo Co.
30A Bali Lane
Instagram (Wild Paw Tattoo)
Sending in a tattoo enquiry
As you contact a tattoo artist to set an appointment date, you’ll also have to give them details about the tattoo you wish to receive.
Often times, here is what you’ll have to include in your email message:
- Your name and age
- Tattoo description
- Colour or greyscale
- Text or drawing
- Reference images
- From works that the artist has done before
- Images of existing tattoos (some artists don’t prefer this form of reference)
- Your own drawing / photograph
- Tattoo placement
- Which part of your body
- It’s great if you’re able to take a picture of where you’d like the tattoo to be placed
- Tattoo size in centimetres
- If you’re sending an image of the body placement, you can also mark out the length / width of the tattoo
- State if you have any skin condition / scarring / freckles on the area
Feel free to always ask the artist if you have questions regarding the tattoo!