The Stick and Poke Tattoo

66ee7e2f22d5d10c1145c42690b8edf8Tattoo guns are used typically used to tattoo skin. However, in reality there are other ways of tattooing. The ‘stick and poke” method is one such other way. This method is often used by amateur tattooists who don’t have access to professional tools, but real tattoo connoisseurs know that some of the rarest tattoos in the world are only done by traditional stick and poke methods. One such example is in southern China where certain tribes only allow outsiders these traditional tattoos if they pass a set of trials.

Even if you aren’t a tattoo collector and are simply using this method as a means to save money, there are important rules you must follow to make sure that your tattoo comes out just the way you want it to. Some rules may apply more in one set of circumstances than another, but they are useful nonetheless.


Make sure everything you use is thoroughly sterilized. The needle you used should be straight out of the packaging, or at the very least sterilized by a flame. Make sure the area that is going to be tattooed is shaven and that rubbing alcohol is generously applied. As per usual, NEVER re-use needles.

Be Aware

Due to the fact that stick and poke methods are done by hand, there is a much larger margin for error. The needle should really only penetrate 1/8th of an inch into your skin. If you suffer from excess bleeding during the process or feel the needle going too deep, it may be a good idea to rethink your tattooing method and seek medical advice!

You should feel your skin pop as the needle exits each time. If your skin begins to swell, take a few minutes to re-sterilize the area and wait for the swelling to go down. Your skin won’t absorb ink very well if it is swollen.


Just like a regular tattoo done in a studio, aftercare is vital to the health and aesthetic appeal of your tattoo. Even though your tattoo may have been done in a non-traditional manner, you need to make sure you use quality  aftercare products to ensure your tattoo heals properly and avoids any nasty infections! If you need any tips on how to care properly for your new tattoo, we have tons of articles explaining exactly what you needed to do!