30 Best Stick And Poke Tattoo Ideas AKA Handpoke Tattoos

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stick and poke tattoo ideas
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Beautiful, and less painful.

Tattoos are common. Very common. Women have them. Men have them. Hell, I know grandparents — and great-grandparents — who have them. But did you know there is more than one way to receive a tattoo?

That's right: while most Western tattoos are done using the electric tattoo machine, some other cultures favor the "stick and poke" method. And while there are many stick and poke tattoo ideas out there, you should definitely understand this method before getting one.

So, what is a stick and poke tattoo? Well, stick and poke — also known as handpoke — tattooing is a type of tattooing which does not use a machine.

The process has ancient roots; in fact, it has been around for centuries, as the electric tattoo machine was not invented until 1890. And while the quality of handpoke 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 start 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.)

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 are often 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? Just check out these 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 Tattooist 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.

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

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 Tattoo from Cosmic Sight Handpoke

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. 


RELATED: Pictures Of Every Tattoo On 'New Rules' Singer Dua Lipa's Body — Plus The Meaning & Inspiration Behind Each


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 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.

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. Tomato Tattoo from Cookies and Cream Magazine

I'm not sure of the meaning behind this tomato, but it is one fun fruit.

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, she believes firmly in equality and parity, and she is an advocate for women's health, mental health, and sexuality.

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