Picture of DIY Tattoos (Stick 'n' Poke)
The art of tattooing has been around for centuries with every major culture doing the process. In today's world tattooing is most of the time left to experts, resulting in very beautiful works. But what if you want to do your own? this instructable will cover the art of "Stick 'n' poke" tattoos that will enable you to safely add your own dermal embellishments.

WARNING: These tattoos, although light, are PERMANENT! Think about what you want on your body before you go through with it. ALSO it does hurt, and depending on your pain level it may hurt too much. Test without ink first to see if you want to spend 30 minutes poking your skin to get some cool stuff.

Lets get on with it.

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Step 1: Suppiles

Picture of Suppiles
You don't need much for this instructable but here is the suppy list:
1 Pencil
1 sewing needle of medium size
1 jar lid
A bottle of black ink, this instructable uses higgins waterproof ink
A stove or other fire producing device.
Rubbing alcohol
Anti bacterial soap
unscented lotion

Step 2: Disinfecting Your Skin

Picture of Disinfecting Your Skin
The next step is to clean your skin, use a antibacterial soap or rubbing alcohol to clean the area you want to tattoo. This will make sure that the area is prepped for poking.

Step 3: Drawing Your Image

Picture of Drawing Your Image
Then with a regular ball point pen you draw what you want to have your tattoo be. You will follow the lines your draw with the needle and ink later on.

Step 4: Disinfecting Needle and Prep

Picture of Disinfecting Needle and Prep
First poke the needle into the pencil like in the first picture

Then use fire to disinfect the needle, the once the needle cools wrap the needle with string only leaving a bit of the needle at the tip exposed.

Step 5: Inking The Needle

Picture of Inking The Needle
Next take the ink and put a little bit into a jar lid. The take the string wrapped needle and dip the tip into the ink getting a good amount on there. The string will act as a wick as well.

Step 6: Start Pokin'

Picture of Start Pokin'
Once you have the area clean and prepped, you can start poking.

Yes, it will hurt, yes it will take a while.

Poke into the skin just enough where the dermis sticks a little to the needle. It may take a few tries to get it right. Pull the skin tight to make it easier and follow the lines your drew in the last step.

Keep some paper towels on hand in case you start bleeding.

Step 7: Pokin' Part 2

Picture of Pokin' Part 2
Once you go over the tattoo once, it may not be dark enough for you so go over it again if you wish.

The area you poke will become a bit raised and swell, this is normal.

Step 8: Aftercare

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Afterwards you should clean the tattoo again and put something on it to protect it like saran wrap.

After a few hours you should be able to take the saran wrap off and use regular unscented lotion for a few days. Keep the tattoo out of sunlight for the first 2 days as well.

Hope you enjoyed this instructable, Please comment with any improvements or experiences. I want to thank my friends Rachael, Laura and Misha for letting them document the tattooing process. Im actually too much of a wussy and didn't get one, but now i wrote up this instructable i really should.

Instructables robot maybe?

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DMPeraino1 year ago

It may not be the best idea to do this but thank you for posting a full tutorial for those who plan to do it. This is a really good tutorial in comparison to some others and while stick n' poke is not the best method of getting a tattoo if you plan to do it. A good tutorial is here.

what is that exactly?
Wyonaut1 year ago

Awesome instructable. Awesome DIY attitude. While I have some quibbles on the specifics (I'd like to see better options than pencil and thread), it was all explained well and it shows incredible DIY attitude. There is no point in trying to reason with the haters here, they don't want to help. If they wanted to help they would share tips for better technique, better needles, better ink, and better sterilization. They are confusing perfect with best and forgetting the spirit of body art.

If someone is reading this and wants to do it themselves, then telling them to "go to tattoo parlor or your skin and limbs will rot off" is not remotely helpful. Better they get good instruction on how to DIY than try and figure it out for themselves. Putting a few holes in human skin is something we all constantly do by accident in much less than sanitary conditions and the VAST majority of people survive it with very minimal negative effects. The odds greatly favor surviving (and thriving after) it being done on purpose with even minor precautions. The odds are the worst you will have is a new, admittedly probably bad, tattoo.

I have tattoos, my wife has tattoos. We designed all of them, though we had to pay someone else to put them on us. I'd love for my next tattoo to be done by her, even if it looks less than stellar, I will know her spirit is in it. That's what body art is about for me.

QuadriTori6 hours ago
This is what mine looks like and it seems pretty nice, I talked to a tattoo artist about it and the only thing that this article lacks to mention is that it might turn into a blob once it is done healing
laughysaffy made it!4 days ago
not the best, but a good first attempt in my opinion

I don't think I would handle it :/

Velma66618 days ago
Can I use this ink?
Howardlylion15 made it!22 days ago
I did this earlier today with blue writing ink i got from a caligraphy pen from barnes and noble a few years back. It may not be the safest ink but i really want this and if people have been doing this in prison, which isnt the most sanitary of places, then I'll be fine. Its a comma, symbolizing an author's choice to continue a sentence. Theres an article about these drawings/tattoos. They are dedicated to those who have committed suicide
Semi colon, not comma lol
kwoodham made it!23 days ago

Thanks for this tutorial. Here's mine, about an hour old. The semicolon has special significance to my long battle with mental illness (see www.projectsemicolon.com, and being able to do it myself made it an incredibly powerful and cathartic experience. This is my first tattoo. I was more than a little terrified going into it, but I felt amazing having don it and am really happy with the results. It may need some touching up in a week or two, but we'll see. Also.... ouch! :D


After getting the tattoo try to avoid going swimming in pools or lakes/oceans for a couple of days/weeks to reduce risk of infection.

BrittanyB35 months ago

So I did a tattoo a week ago on the palm of my hand and I noticed that it's fading a little.. also I tested it on an area of my softer skin and it just completely came off, almost like a scab. It isn't infected or anything and it doesn't hurt, but is this normal? Does it mean I have to penetrate deeper???

Also forgot to mention....palm tattoos just fade out even if you get them professionally. Try tattoing somewhere else on your body.
You have to go deeper. Try going in about 2mm
EmmyBraders3 months ago

does anyone know if piercing cleanser (such as bpa) works for sanatizing the needle??

You could use it inconjunction with heat.
GraceG13 months ago

could i use something like ice to numb the area where i want to put the tattoo? this is my first time and i dont know how sensitive i am to pain.

Honestly, I wouldnt use ice. Cold makes the skin and the capilaries contract making your skin harder to work with. Try seeing what you can handle by poking yourself before you start a tattoo. Personally, Im old school in that I think you have to earn your ink by dealing with the pain, but since not everyone feels this way...they do sell numbing gels on the internet that you can utilize...
NiamhM GraceG11 month ago
Yes you can, ice won't do anything to the skin so it will work the same and just lessen the pain.
MarcelZ1 month ago
maliek134 months ago
Can i use nail polish
no no no, do not use nail polish. You need to buy Indian ink or tattoo ink. Anything else will not be permanent and will raise the risk of infection
Where can you buy Indian ink?
TonyG141 month ago
Great advice! I use it to add fine lines to my (Prof.) Tatts, I'll try the pencil/pin. I used Tatt needle but hard to hold, I use packing tape to stretch skin, use Tattoo ink (safer). T.y :) Jett.
ThaddeausJ1 month ago
Might want to change it from saying 30 minutes. I've spent over 2 hours on some pick pokes lol
sami.matyas7 months ago
Does pen ink work?
If you use pen ink use a gel pen. I did all my pick pokes when I was locked up with gel ink.

yes sami they use pen ink to do tatoos in jail/prison ect.

In prisons and jails etc, any ink is used, not only from pens but from the cloth covers of books etc, such as the A.A. Big Book which can't be denied the prisoners tho the covers may be altered by now. ~(:-})={>---- ]

Mcnasssteyy1 month ago
Chelodina28993 months ago

Thanks so much for putting a well-written instructable on how to do stick and poke tattoos, i would've been lost without you. I got a tooth, it's very personal to me.

Photo on 4-29-15 at 6.38 AM.jpg

Thank you so much for this tutorial. My kitty just passed away and this was the perfect craft project to remember him by.

mistyha3 months ago
I actually got really sore doing it (obviously) and it's a big two letters so I actually had to wait till the next day to finish a little bit of it.

i did this last night. still needs a second run through but other than that, i followed the guide and it worked. so fasho thanks

kmarie421 year ago
This is in no way sanitary. As a tattoo artist myself I feel like I have to stress that there are high possibilities of infection with this method bc you are pushing bloody ink back into your skin with the thread. It is never wise to try doing your own tattoos it's also not safe and should not be taught as a DIY to anyone.
it also helps to prevent excessive bleeding if petroleum jelly is used.

I am also a tattoo artist.

Well, actually...it specifically stated that you don't want to tie the string too far down, so it shouldn't be touching the blood or anything. As long as everything is sterile, I see no problem at all. This method has been used for centuries, and those people turned out just fine. Just because in the modern age, some one who gives a tattoo is labeled as a "tattoo artist" - doesn't make them any more experienced or qualified. People have been modifying their bodies long before we were around. C;

So well put. Bravo. ✌️
IanP3 kmarie427 months ago

when I did both of mine, I went ink, stab, alcohol, repeat. I also swabbed the skin each time with alcohol before stabbing myself again.

benomislimi3 months ago
My tattoo
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