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.

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

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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

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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

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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

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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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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.

esmecx30 minutes ago
How old do you have to be to do this?
BaileyW66 days ago

you can change out the lotion for antibacterial paste. It'll accomplish the same thing (keeping the tattoo from getting infections) but do it much better. This is advice coming from the professional tattoo artist who did my first tattoo (here's a link to his website >> http://www.imagesinink.net/about.html ).

Can i put vaseline after I finish ?
Yes, but dont rub in, it can cause ink to come out or early fading
How can i make the ink look like them real tattos ?
Rosygk15 days ago

I'm sorry but if you're going to be posting pics of your feet on the Internet at least cut your toenails.. Ew

early200s16 days ago

Could someone with somewhat of an experience with stick and poke tell me how they think this would turn out, not sure if its too intricate, especially the leaves in the doves beak. im planning on getting it about 2 inches wide inside my forearm under the crease of my elbow.

EmmyBraders4 months ago

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

Just use fire, then rubbing alcohol or hp to clean the needle.
You could use it inconjunction with heat.
shianns22 days ago

So, I've heard arguments about using regular pen ink and a specific kind of ink. Would it be a bad thing to use regular pen ink?

HenryE3 shianns18 days ago
Pen ink is extremely un sterile. It can cause infection and a bae looking tat later in life
I'd say it's not the best idea to use pen ink. They're not sterile and some aren't non toxic, so there's a chance of getting an infection. The best kind of ink to use would be either a tattoo ink or a non-toxic India ink. I have heard that Higgins is a good brand, but there are probably more
FårøukK20 days ago

I will try it

HannahO124 days ago

Works best with simple, small designs

QuadriTori1 month 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!1 month ago
not the best, but a good first attempt in my opinion

I don't think I would handle it :/

Velma6661 month ago
Can I use this ink?
Howardlylion15 made it!1 month 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!1 month 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.

BrittanyB36 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
GraceG14 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 GraceG12 months ago
Yes you can, ice won't do anything to the skin so it will work the same and just lessen the pain.
MarcelZ2 months ago
maliek135 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?
TonyG142 months 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.
ThaddeausJ2 months ago
Might want to change it from saying 30 minutes. I've spent over 2 hours on some pick pokes lol
sami.matyas8 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. ~(:-})={>---- ]

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