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A Brief Look into the Rich History and Culture of Stick and Poke Tattooing


Welcome to the captivating world of stick and poke/hand poke/machine free tattooing! Our beloved form of body art has a rich history and a vibrant underground culture that has mesmerised many walks of life worldwide for centuries. Get ready to delve into the intriguing origins, evolution, and rebellious spirit that defines this badass subculture.


Origins and Evolution: Stick and poke tattooing, also known as hand-poke, machine free tattooing or as we like to call it POKE Tattooing 😜, dates back thousands of years to ancient and indigenous cultures across the globe. Some of these include the Ainu people of Japan, the Maori of New Zealand, and the Berber tribes of North Africa. These early pioneers of stick and poke used tools like sharpened bones, wood, or metal, and natural pigments extracted from plants or minerals. Tattoos held immense cultural and spiritual significance, marking rites of passage, tribal affiliations, or protection against malevolent forces.


Over time, as tattooing gained mainstream popularity, the stick and poke technique faced marginalisation due to its association with prison tattoos and a DIY aesthetic. BUT, in more recent years, there has been a resurgence of interest in traditional and organic tattooing methods. Poke tattoos are now more celebrated for their raw and authentic appeal, providing an alternative to the precise finesse of electric machine tattoos.


The Underground Culture: The underground culture of poke tattooing is characterised by a laid-back, individualistic spirit, fuelled by creativity and a do-it-yourself ethos. Unlike conventional tattoo studios, stick and poke artists historically have often worked in unconventional settings such as living rooms or cozy private studios. This intimate environment cultivates a sense of connection and trust between the artist and the client, fostering a unique and beautiful experience.

We have found within our customer base and the stick and poke community alike, there's a supportive and inclusive atmosphere, encouraging self-expression 💖. The tattoo industry is still often a cis male dominated space, the poke community offers a safer space for women and queer people to access and share the artistry and beauty of tattooing.


The Appeal and Process: What makes stick and poke tattoos so damn cool? It's often about their simplicity and minimalist charm. The handmade nature of stick and poke tattoos adds a touch of authenticity and intimacy to each piece, making it truly unique. Now, let's talk about the process. Poke tattooing involves using a sterilised tattoo needle/s which is manually dipped into tattoo ink and then hand-poked into the skin. Artists rely on their skill, precision, and understanding of the body's contours to create intricate designs. The process may take longer compared to machine tattooing, but it allows both the artist and the recipient to fully immerse themselves in the artistry, resulting in a deeply personal and meaningful experience!


Stick and poke tattooing is an art form steeped in history and celebrated for its underground culture. Its rebellious and individualistic spirit has made it a magnet for creative souls seeking a more personal and authentic form of self-expression. With its rich origins, ongoing evolution, and intimate handmade process, stick and poke tattooing adds a distinct and captivating dimension to the tattooing world. So, if you're looking to embrace the raw and rebellious, give poking a try!