Hand poke Tattoos
March 7, 2016 3:06 PM   Subscribe

I am planning on getting a pair of tattoos, and think that the handpoke/primitive pointillism look would work really well with the design I have in mind. I have a few questions regarding handpoke vs regular machine tattooing, and hope someone here has some experience in this, and advice to give.

1 -- Length of tattooing - basic googling tells me that hand poke takes longer than machine tattooing. This seems logical. How much longer, roughly?

2 -- Pain -- how is it compared to a regular tattoo? I'm planning on the backs of my arms, above my elbows. I have 2 other tats, but done the modern way and on different parts of my body.

3 -- Recovery -- Is the length of the healing time and the general process the same?

4 -- Aging -- Obviously, most pictures that artists use in their portfolios are of fresh ink. Do hand poke tats age the same as normal ones, or do they tend to fade faster/need more touch-ups? There are a lot of google images of old hand poke tattoos that amateurs gave to themselves, but not so much of the professional ones.

5 -- Bonus - Does anyone have any hand poke artists to recommend in the Chicago area? I found one in my neck of the woods that looks to be good, but I am definitely open to suggestions.
posted by Fig to Media & Arts (6 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
You might ask Lars Krutak. He has contact info. on his site.
posted by gudrun at 3:25 PM on March 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

I was taught stick and poke by a professional tattoo artist who also works with traditional tattoo styles. I've done three so far.

1 -- Yes, it takes longer, at least twice as long, possibly much more. How much longer depends very much on the design and the skill of the artist. Outlines obviously will go faster than something filled in with ink, but will still need to be gone over multiple times to ensure a solid line. Longer = more expensive, which is why stick and pokes are usually done by non-professionals as a way to save money.

2 -- It hurts more, it swells more. The individual pricks are slower, so that hurts more. Also they take longer, as noted above.

3 -- They tend to heal faster, in my experience. Use the same aftercare you normally would. They don't peel like regular tats. (YMMV)

4 -- They do fade faster. How quickly depends on the location, how much sun it gets, your skin type, and what ink they use. I used india ink on one and regular black tattoo ink for the other two. The ones with the tattoo ink have fade much less.

5 -- Sadly, no. None of the tattooists I know that do this style are taking clients on right now.

I should note that a primitive/pointillism style is totally achievable with a regular tattoo machine.
posted by ananci at 6:44 PM on March 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

I can echo ananci's point 3 - I have dotwork tattoos done with a machine, and they healed faster than my regular style ones and didn't peel, for what that's worth.
posted by corvine at 6:27 AM on March 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

Dotwork is the search term I didn't know I was missing - that's really what I'm after.

Thanks for your help!
posted by Fig at 10:43 AM on March 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

Chiming in late here! What you've got above is dead-on, in my limited experience.

It will take longer. It will heal faster and more simply. It will hurt a bit more.

One other thing: it will sound a bit creepy. Like, the little sound of 'stick' followed by the little sucking sound when the needle is withdrawn. It's a weird noise, and it takes some getting used to! It's a very very fun process to be on either side of, though, and you will probably love it!
posted by still bill at 6:47 AM on March 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

I went for the handpoke, here's the result. I love it. A little over 4 hrs, not too horribly painful.
posted by Fig at 12:35 AM on April 2, 2016

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