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To Poke or Not to Poke?

Christopher Bilmes

Its week who fucking knows in the Brave New World of fake Supreme facemasks.

You're bored as fuck with having to check in with your mom on the phone each day and if grandpa doesn't get facetime anytime soon you're gonna drive round there and smash his phone.

You completed Netflix a fortnight ago, you're concerned about the effect PornHub is having on your view of 'normal' sex and you've put on 15 pounds.

How the hell are you going to spend another evening on lockdown?  The bottle shop only has Coors Lite and your weed is low.

How about you poke your own tattoo?  OMFG!!  What an AMAZING idea??!?!?

Hmmmmmmm.  But is it?  Have you phoned a friend?  Are you wondering why you're waiting for your girlfriend to fall asleep watching Selling Sunset before you permanently brand yourself?  It couldn't possibly be because in fact this is truly a fucking awful plan?

You've been on Reddit and downloaded the guide to stick and poke, you have some gardening gloves, some tattoo needles (even you are not crazy enough to use a sewing needle) and some ink bought off Amazon. 

Tonight is the night a tattoo career begins - once lock down is over you fucking know that you'll have at least 15k followers and people asking for bookings (you say you only do 'private studio' but that's because no tattoo parlour in the world will give you a seat).  WHAT COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG?

Look - we're all about art, DIY, self expression and fucking the system.  But we're also all about our followers not picking up gross blood infections, losing an arm and having homemade jobstoppers of 'Fuck the Vrius' (sic) tattooed on their wrists while high on Purple Haze. 

If you are going to do it (and probably if you flunked art at junior school you might give it a swerve) then there are some pretty fucking simple rules to follow. 

This Reddit post is as good as any (https://bit.ly/2zfswcP) but by no means the only guide.  Every man, woman and dog has a view on how to home tattoo - Google it you lazy fuck.  But the basic premise is this: buy professional needles, professional ink and professional gloves (yes you really ought to wear them even when tattooing yourself - its good practise always to wear gloves no matter what).  Learn about how to stencil.  Practise tattooing on an orange.  Think 'cleanliness' in literally everything you do.  Don't cross contaminate (if you're going to tattoo your crew you CANNOT be dipping needles in ink bottles - buy the little caps that you see artists use).  Find somewhere hidden for the first few tries.  Keep it really simple - no backpieces please.  And heal it like you would any other tattoo.

So....what really is the worst that could happen (other than getting 10k likes on Snake Pit and septicemia)?  Well you know - 72% of hand poke tattooists started off this way (I made that percentage up but its probably about right) and maybe there is a career in a studio waiting once you've nailed drawing and have learnt the trade.  So if you're going to do it - just be safe and sensible about it and don't start off with your face.  Your mom'll thank me for this.

CB x


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