Charley Ward | Contributing Writer | Sunday, 8 November 2015

11 Amazing Hand Poked Tattoos That You\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\'ll Want Right Now

11 Amazing Hand-Poked Tattoos That You'll Want Right Now

The Debrief: Get the lowdown on the old school tattoo trend that's blowing up on Instagram

Nowadays, you’re equally as likely to see a tattoo on the girl who does the accounts in your office to a burly builder, and with a fifth of Brits now the proud owner of some ink, tattoos have long-since entered the mainstream. So what are you now supposed to do if you want to distinguish your thoughtful body art from that of an 18-year-old who got it done for the lols in #magaluf? 

Well, you could always go right back to basics and get a hand poked tattoo... 

Erm, what’s a hand poked tattoo?


A photo posted by Eva Bryant (@horseforest) on Oct 27, 2015 at 5:11pm PDT

This is. A hand poked tattoo, also known as stick and poke or stick ‘n poke, is basically exactly what it sounds like – a tattoo created by poking the ink into your skin using a needle attached to a stick (like a chopstick) instead of the usual mechanical gun. 

Hand poked tattoos are generally simple designs that have an indie, DIY feel about them. The method is also great for creating dotwork tattoos, the preferred style of handpoke-tattoo artist Grace Neutral.

We chatted to Chris Johnson, a London based stick n’ poke tattoo artist, about the recent surge in interest in hand poked tattoos to find out more.

Hi Chris, what made you favour hand poked tattoos over those made with a tattoo guns?

When I received my first hand poked tattoo it was a completely different experience than my previous tattoos. I found it very calming and the process felt much more intimate. This really appealed to me so I have focused my attention on maintaining this in the way I work. 

What do you think has sparked the recent rise in interest in hand poked tattoos?

I thin that as tattooing is increasingly embraced and respected, the history surrounding it is explored with more depth. Hand poking, in many variations, is how pretty much how all tattoos have been made up until the invention of the electric tattoo machine a little over one hundred years ago, so I am not surprised this aspect of the craft is receiving renewed attention.  

Generally speaking, for a similar sized tattoo, would a hand poked tattoo take more or less time than using a tattoo gun? 

Hand poking a tattoo will take more time. For me this time can be an important part of bonding with your tattoo and the process it took to make it.    


A photo posted by Megan Bratt (@meggiebratt) on Oct 30, 2015 at 10:11pm PDT

Okay, so does it hurt more to receive a tattoo when the artist is doing it by hand?

The sensation of being tattooed by hand is different. Personally I find it less painful and most of the people I have tattooed have agreed. Saying this, I do believe the sensation that is felt in the creation of a tattoo is an intrinsic part of it.

Are there any general reasons your customers cite for wanting a hand poked tattoo over one made with gun?

People are interested in the novelty of it and the process, the simplicity and the intimacy. My equipment is portable so I am able to fulfill peoples requests to be tattooed outside or at their home, places that are precious to them or where they are most at ease.

Well, that all sounds great. But are there any styles of tattoo that would be better carried out with a tattoo gun?

I have encountered all manner of hand poked techniques and styles and continue to be inspired by what can be achieved. I think hand poke tattooing can be as free as machine tattooing. Stylistically your only limitation is your imagination.


A photo posted by @welfare_dentist on Nov 2, 2015 at 6:56am PST

Cool. So, what do you like most about hand poked tattoos?

I like the simplicity, directness and intimacy of it; the needle being the only thing between the tattooer and the person receiving the tattoo. I love the focus I feel when I am tattooing.

And lastly, are hand poked tattoos more prone to fading than tattoos done electronically?

If done by someone with knowledge and care a hand poked tattoo is just as permanent.  

And with that, we present:

11 of the best handpoked tattoos we found on Instagram:


1. This schoolboy one


A photo posted by gnomepoke (@gnomepoke) on Nov 1, 2015 at 8:32am PST

This dotwork schoolboy with a moon for a head on vintage crutches is niche, but undeniably awesome.

2. These wildflowers


A photo posted by gnomepoke (@gnomepoke) on Nov 1, 2015 at 6:30am PST

This sweet flower tat is simple, feminine and gorgeous. Want.

3. This whale


A photo posted by E.K. (@regiusink) on Oct 30, 2015 at 10:54am PDT

More delicate dotwork used to great effect in this serene stick and poke whale tattoo

4. This true statement


A photo posted by Eva Bryant (@horseforest) on Oct 23, 2015 at 3:49pm PDT


5. This arty female figure

This dainty, almost ethereal silhouette has a self-reflective vibe which is perfect for stick and poke 

6. These other flowers


A photo posted by do what feed your soul (@cammy06) on Oct 29, 2015 at 8:24pm PDT

More Pinterest-worthy florals here

7. This erupting volcano

Simple, indie and effective. I like it.

8. This cute robot

How amazing is this? 

9. This clearing in a forest


A photo posted by Lara (@larakoschny) on Oct 25, 2015 at 12:57pm PDT

Love the variations of soft and bolder inks. A mix of lines and dotwork gives this gorgeous woodland scene a cerebral feel.

10. This Disney Princess


Today on the lovely Roxanne @oldhabitstattoo #handpoke

A post shared by Grace Neutral (@graceneutral) on Dec 19, 2016 at 10:24am PST

Grace Neutral doesn't just do knives and mandalas, she's an ace at capturing the likeness of Jasmine from Aladdin. 

11. This (second) true statement


A photo posted by Guiyømatteøs (@guiyomatteos) on Oct 27, 2015 at 3:41am PDT

Again... same. 

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Follow Charley on Twitter: @charrrkey

Tags: Instagram Styling Tips