San Fransisco's Stick and Poke tattoos

We thought we had it bad in Newcastle, we really did.

I just got an email about the new trend for kids in San Fransisco- stick and poke tattoos. A stick and poke tattoo is basically ink and a needle- I’m sure you get the rest. Yes, no gloves, no gun, no autoclave, nothing. I know this is not a new thing in the slightest, but it’s gaining quick popularity like it’s never had before, and it’s awful. Besides, we’ve never spoken about this before on the website.

Now, I don’t want to turn this into a blog that only talks about scratchers and hideous tattoos. But when I read something like this, it makes me want to write:

“In some ways, [the stick-and-poke method] is safer than getting a real tattoo, especially as a minor, because in a tattoo parlor after hours there could be hepatitis on the needles and stuff,” said the student. “As a minor, I would much rather get a stick-and-poke.”

San Fransisco Chronicle


Where do this lot get their ideas from? One search on “stick and poke tattoos” landed me with “Andreas is back with a needle, ink, and some beer.” – WHAT?? 

You know what guys, I give in with this one. With any other case of bad tattoos, I feel awful for the poor soul who’s been butchered by some scratcher idiot who says they’re a tattoo artist. But you know, in this case, I can’t even be bothered to defend anyone, these kids are fucking idiots, and they almost deserve their shitty tattoos. If kids are so desperate to get a “cool tattoo” at their age, go ahead- enjoy your hepatitis. I give in with this lot.


Im not even kidding, THIS is what came up on Google Images.
I'm not even kidding, THIS is what came up on Google Images.

9 thoughts on “San Fransisco's Stick and Poke tattoos

  1. Yeah is pretty bad here In Houston Texas.I see quite a few freshly turned 18 year old kids coming into my parlor asking for a cover up because they let a friend stick and poke them.Every one I have see are just so rough and barbaric.One kid came in and his had gotten infected bad,scared up just horrid.I asked where they got the ink from,most of them were done with India ink,some however were done with prison ink.They made it by burning plastic catching the carbon off of it by holding a bowl upside down over the flame,then it was mixed with toothpaste.It is just insane to inject so many unknown and potentially toxic chemicals into you.


  2. I just gave myself a stick and poke tattoo yesterday. I obviously did it in a sanitary way, with needles dipped in alcohol and new ink specifically made for tattoos. I am 21 years old, far older than the legal limit for tattoos and I still did it. There is something liberating about giving yourself a tattoo, it has far more meaning. If your patient, tolerate pain, and use sanitary method’s you can have a nice, clean tattoo as a result. Kids are probably just doing it for fun, which is why they are running into infection problems and hating on their tattoos after they get them done.


    1. …enjoy MRSA. alcohol only kills a small fraction of microbes and staph isn’t one of them. if you want to be creative, draw up some artwork and give it to a pro… where they use this sterilization method using something called an autoclave. even that isnt perfect but at least you can significantly reduce your risk of any serious infection. well, maybe in the future, if this stick and poke tattoo doesnt kill you or the flesh eating bacteria doesnt cause you to lose your limbs, you can use your brain and get a pro to put on a work of art instead of the pus-y inky mess you can expect to have.


  3. Your excuse may be new, but it’s definitely not valid. Think about this:

    1. Why do you think tattoo artists use autoclaves instead of alcohol to sterilise their equipment?
    2. What at all do you know about blood borne and air borne pathogens?
    3. Would you ever do a skilled medical procedure on yourself?

    Think about those next time you decide to disfigure yourself. I could argue ’till I’m blue in the face about the rights and wrongs, but there’s no arguing with the fact you still have no idea what you’re doing. Besides, you probably look cheap and common with your home tattoo, in my opinion.



    1. I’ve been doing stick and poke for a few years now. I’ve logged over 60 tattoos and well over 150 hours of tattooing in this style.

      In regards to sterilization, all the needles I get are pre-sterilized just like the ones used in any tattoo shop. The exact same procedures for shops can be followed at home, made easier by the lack of tools to be sterilized. Tattoo needles are cheap, pennies a piece.
      As an experience my argument is that most people get tattoos to remember something, or to represent change, this experience is of greater value when done by a friend to share the experience. A professional shop can provide that experience as well, but not always.
      To me shops feel cold, sterile and impersonal.
      The overall process takes 3-4 times longer, and damages the skin significantly less than a tattoo gun does. Guns shred the skin, and generally leave behind a lot of scar tissue. this is even more evident in artists who don’t really know how to use their guns properly. Home made tattoos don’t even generally change the thickness or texture of the skin.

      a skilled medical procedure is one thing, but using common sense for homemade body modifications is perfectly reasonable.


      1. “To me shops feel cold, sterile and impersonal.”

        They feel sterile for a reason, buddy.

        If you want to get tattooed in a place where you eat and shit, feel free. I just hope your home is covered in hard sterile surfaces and cling film. If not, I would recommend getting rid of your sofa and any pets- you could use the money you save on buying proper needles, not the penies a piece shite that you’ve been using to do terrible tattoos! Everyone wins, eh?

        Home stick and poke tattoos are for hippies with no jobs.Have some self respect, son.


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