The last few years have seen a return to basics in practically every aspect of our lives. It seems like we want to move forward into the future by going back to the past and doing things the old-school way. We want our food organic and our clothing hand-made. Of course, there’s already a backlash against this trend—Who doesn’t like to make fun of hipsters? Even hipsters make fun of hipsters—, but it makes so much sense. In a world where everything is mass-produced and easily attainable, it’s hard to find things that are unique and meaningful.
This is where hand-poked tattoos come in. All of a sudden, it seems like everyone and their mother has a tattoo. Whereas not that long ago tattoos were reserved for criminals and outcasts, nowadays everyone has one, or at least people are less judging of those who have them. As a result, every single theme, style, or location you could think of for getting one has been done before. So, what can you do to get a tattoo that’s different from what everyone else is getting? That’s right, you go back to basics, and hand-poked tattoos are your best bet.
Their biggest appeal is their simplicity: simple tools and designs. While traditional tattoos are done using a special "gun," hand-poked tattoos require only a needle and ink. The needle is attached to a stick, so it can be handled more easily. Then, the tattooer will poke the skin with the needle, making a dot every time it pricks the skin. In this way, every line and shadow in the tattoo will be made up of hundreds and hundreds of little dots. Because of this, they’re not really suited for color, and they look much better when done only in black and gray. Still, it doesn’t matter that hand-poked tattoos are not bright and colorful: the technique that’s used makes them look really different from regular tattoos, making them stand out from everything else you’re going to see out there.
Now, before you go running off to the nearest tattoo studio, there are some aspects you should probably consider before getting a hand-poked tattoo. First, because every element will be drawn by poking your skin one dot at a time, hand-poked tattoos take a lot longer than regular tattoos. It’s one of the biggest gripes people have about them. On top of that, this technique also hurts more than traditional tattooing. Just think about it: someone is basically stabbing your skin over and over again with a needle. Ouch. And then, to make them sound even less appealing, hand-poked tattoos are notorious for fading after only a few months. This could be a good thing if you didn’t like what you got and you can’t afford to laser it off, but what if you really liked it? You would have to go through all that pain again just to retouch it. For many people, it might not be worth it.
However, many others swear by hand-poked tattoos. One of their biggest draws is how cheap they are. If you compare them to traditional tattoos done with a machine, which can set you back hundreds or even thousands of dollars, hand-poked tattoos are surprisingly affordable. The reason is that they don’t require as many tools, so you’re basically paying for a clean needle, some ink, and the tattoo artist’s labor.
Their most attractive quality, though, is their look. When done well by a professional, hand-poked tattoos are simply beautiful. There are textures and details that a machine could not do the same way a hand can. Moreover, the fact that they are done by hand gives them a unique DIY look that can be really memorable. Even the simplest, most minimalist designs will look stunning just because of what the technique can do.
So, go ahead and see which tattoo artists are doing hand-poked tattoos in your city. You might just get inspired to get your first tattoo ever, or you might get another one to add to your collection and stand out from the rest.
Cover image by @emilymalice