30 Stick And Poke Tattoo Ideas For Men & Women

Photo: Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash
30 Stick And Poke Tattoo Ideas For Men & Women

Tattoos are more common than you may think. Recent statistics suggest that over 35% of men and women in the U.S. over the age of 18 have at least one piece of ink tattooed somewhere on their body. common.

But did you know there is more than one way to receive a tattoo?

That's right: while most Western tattoos are done using electric tattoo machines, some cultures favor the non-electric "stick and poke" tattoo method.

And while there are many stick and poke tattoo ideas out there, you should definitely understand this method before getting one.

What is a stick and poke tattoo?

Stick and poke tattooing, also known as handpoked, is a process with ancient roots. In fact, it has been around for centuries, as the electric tattoo machine wasn't invented until 1890.

And while the quality of hand poke tattoos varies (depending on the experience of the tattoo artist and the ink used) the method remains the same: ink inserted into the skin using a sharpened tool, instrument, or stick.

Much like machined tattoos, the first step of a stick and poke tattoo is starting with sterilized tools. The device can be sterilized using an autoclave or it can be a single use piece — which is the preferred method. Once all tattooing tools have been gathered and the artist has set up their work space, the next step is to prep the skin for the tattoo. (This usually involves cleansing and, in some cases, shaving.)

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After the skin has been cleaned, a stencil may be applied or the artist may begin the tattooing process freehand, and while stick and poke tattoos are manual tattoos — meaning the sharp end of the "stick" is dipped into ink and then pushed into the skin by the hand — the idea is the same as with a machined piece, i.e. ink enters the skin through small cuts.

The benefit of stick and poke tattoos is that they can be less painful and the healing process is far easier.

According to Tattoodo, "the hand tool causes so little trauma to the skin, compared with even a well-controlled tattoo machine, [that there is] no swelling, no inflammation and no bruising ... the skin rarely reacts in any way that prevents the artist from tattooing for long sessions."

What's more, stick and poke tattoos have a unique look to them — one which is hard to replicate with a machine.

Not sure what we mean?

Check out these images of our 30 favorite stick and poke tattoo ideas to inspire your next ink.

1. Polynesian Tattoo from Just Sofie Tattoo

With bold lines and a tribal-esque pattern, this Polynesian tattoo tells a story.

RELATED: 11 Of The Most Unique Celebrity Tattoos To Inspire Your Next Ink

2. Geometric Tattoo from Leah Stanmore

Like a camera shutter, this geometric pattern pulls you in.

3. Tribal Tattoo from Vanaja Traditional Tattoo

There is a myth that stick and poke tattoos are thick or bulky, but the fine lines of this piece prove this tattooing method knows no bounds.

4. Norse Tattoo from Paula Cruz Tattoo Art

A symbol from Norse mythology, this piece is a definite conversation starter.

5. Bird Tattoo from Ana Handpoke CPH

This bird highlights the amazing dot work stick and poke tattooing often creates. Beau-ti-ful!

6. Cross Tattoo from Maleventum Tattoo Shop

With clean lines and a simplistic design, this cross is perfect.

7. Care Bear Tattoo from tattoo artist Yeoreum

This adorable piece from Yeoreum proves that not all stick and poke pieces are bold. Cute and cuddly!

8. Grim Reaper Tattoo from Silvia Placenta

With intricate lines and gray shading, this Grim Reaper is as bold as he is dark.

9. Soundwave Tattoo from Fine Line Tattoos Melbourne

The latest tattooing craze is soundwave tattoos — tattoos of an audio clip you can hear — and this is a perfect example of a very modern idea mixed with traditional tattooing methods.

10. Flower Tattoo from Hannah Storm

Wonderful and whimsical, this flower tattoo is elegant.

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11. Love Tattoo from Megan Sanchez Tattoos

Who says stick and poke tattooing is only for "designs"? This piece proves a talented artist can do anything with this method.

12. Crescent Moon Tattoo from Pifa Alarcon


A post shared by pifa (@pifanida) on May 20, 2018 at 5:25am PDT

Cute and classic, this crescent moon tattoo really is out of this world.

13. Rainbow Tattoo from Zzi Zzi Boy


A post shared by zzizziboy Handpoke (@zzizziboy) on May 21, 2018 at 1:04pm PDT

With a bright rainbow and equally bright clouds, this tattoo truly makes a statement.

14. Hummingbird Tattoo from Die Monde


A post shared by DIE-MONDE (@die_monde) on May 19, 2018 at 8:51am PDT

Dainty and delicate, this hummingbird tattoo highlights the intricate beauty of the stick and poke method.

15. Tribal Hummingbird Tattoo from Cosmic Sight Handpoke


I feel so blessed and full of gratitude for these powerful experiences of opening incredible portals of ceremonial intentional tattooing. Each time deeper and deeper I understand the true meaning of ancestral tattooing and opening beautiful space of sharing the prayer. I'm so grateful for such a deep appreciation and putting our experience in an amazing form of words. Infinite gratitude brother Brandon: "The hummingbird is revered in the culture of the Andes, the incas believed it to be a holy totem and a powerful animal ally. Known in Spanish as "Colibri" and it Portuguese as " Beija Flor"(literally, flower kisser) It embodies the spirit of the grandparents, abuela and abuelo. In ayahausca shamanism, people also recognize it as a sacred symbol, and often times people embody this beautiful creature into their being. That's what happened to me. During a huachuma ceremony, after calling upon the power of love and light, a hummingbird spirit came to me in my vision. It taught me to enjoy the nectar of life and spread joy and love whenever I go. One who embodies the hummingbird becomes one who gives cheer and happiness and truly begins to radiate love for all. After the ceremony and knowing the hummingbird I began smelling flowers with a new perspective and everywhere I went the hummingbird would follow, teaching me to become more present and full of zest. The tattoo you see here will be a constant reminder of the hummingbirds love. Wherever I go I will carry this totem on my flesh, and I will wear it's symbolism with joy. Today during a lovely tribal ink ceremony, a beautiful artist gifted me this sacred tattoo. Three hours of "stick and poke" tribal style application, complete with ceremony and tranquil music, I emerged with this amazing piece and refreshed soul. The artwork is complete with the Andean chakana(cross like symbol seen at the top) which represents indigenous cosmology, the four cardinal directions, different dimensions, and other spiritual significances. The numbers 7 & 3 are quite present in the entire piece, ironically being both mine and the artists two favourite numbers.

A post shared by  handpoked ritual tattoo  (@cosmic.sight) on Feb 22, 2018 at 12:17pm PST

With thin lines and intricate edges, this tribal-inspired piece tells a story.

16. Eye Tattoo from Pokes By Lisa


A post shared by Pokes by Lisa (@pokesbylisa) on May 18, 2018 at 5:25pm PDT

This eye sees all.

17. Pentagram Tattoo from Sumiko Handpoke

Like the cross, this symbol of Wiccan faith is stylish and sacred.

18. Lotus Flower Tattoo from Tony Da Rocha


A post shared by Tony Da Rocha (@tony_da_rocha) on May 16, 2018 at 9:47am PDT

A symbol of purity, this lotus flower tattoo is perfect.

19. Sunflower Tattoo from Die Monde


A post shared by DIE-MONDE (@die_monde) on May 20, 2018 at 12:41am PDT

Intricate and delicate, this sunflower-inspired tattoo is beautiful.

20. Flamingo Tattoo from Maleventum Tattoo Shop

With hot pink feathers and a bold, black beak, this flamingo tattoo is sure to get you some attention.

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21. Koi Fish Tattoo from Ink Dot Dot

The koi fish — which typically represents courage and strong character — is a bold choice for any tattoo and this piece is no different. Stun-ning!

22. Dog Tattoo from Fine Line Tattoos Melbourne

Because who doesn't love "man's best friend"?

23. Tribal Tattoo from Cosmic Sight Handpoke

This beautiful shoulder piece is big, bold, and beautiful.

24. Norse Tattoo from Paula Cruz Tattoo Art

These birds — which are symbols from Norse mythology — are elegant and edgy.

25. Flower Tattoo from Tattooist Baka

Dainty and delicate, these borderless flowers are perfect for the guy or gal who wants to make a subtle statement.

26. Geometric Tattoo from Lydia Amor Tattoo

Big and bold, this tribal-inspired design is sure to spark a conversation.

27. Butterfly Tattoo from handpoke_tt__sweater


A post shared by 핸드포크 스웨터(sᴡᴇᴀᴛᴇʀ) (@handpoke_tt__sweater) on Feb 13, 2020 at 9:35am PST

This adorable red butterly is sure to make hearts flutter.

28. Sunflower Tattoo from Tiny Tattoo Inc.

Our second sunflower on this list, this cutie may be tiny but its size doesn't make it any less stunning.

29. Alice In Wonderland Tattoo from Fine Line Tattoos Melbourne

The perfect tribute to Alice In Wonderland, this piece is both beautiful and whimsical.

30. Dragon Tattoo from James Weber


A post shared by James Weber (@jamesweber) on May 31, 2017 at 1:16pm PDT

Words do not do this piece justice. Seriously. This piece is amazing!

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Nicole Lane is a wife, mother, writer, and regular contributor for YourTango. She is a staunch defender of women's rights, believes firmly in equality and parity, and is an advocate for women's health, mental health, and sexuality.