A stick and poke is a unique non-electric technique performed without a tattoo machine. It is a very old, basic tattoo technique that has become extremely popular in recent years. It is a technique performed with a needle and ink, where the artist inserts the needle in your skin repeatedly, hence the name stick and poke.
Stick and poke tattoos look the same as regular tattoos and are as beautiful. However, there are a few differences between these two techniques and a few things to consider before deciding to get a stick and poke tattoo.
Things to Consider When Getting a Stick and Poke Tattoo
While stick and poke tattoos don’t last as long as traditional tattoos, you still need to consider your options. Stick and poke tattoos will last around 10-15 years, so you should consider things like the size, longevity, and design of the tattoo. To keep it simple, we have a handful of things to consider before getting a stick and poke tattoo.
Whether you are getting a regular or a hand-poked tattoo, the size of your design is one of the main things to consider before choosing the actual look. It will depend on many things, such as placement, how detailed you want the tattoo to be, and of course, on your preference. Your stick and poke tattoo can come in various sizes, but you should know that smaller tattoos require extra care.
Stick and poke tattoos fade faster than machine gun tattoos, so you should know your hand-poked tattoo won’t be permanent. On average, they last about five to ten years before they start to fade, depending on placement and aftercare, with finger and hand designs washing out the fastest. That is generally a negative thing for tattoo lovers. However, if you are unsure of the design or think you might change your mind in the future, this could be a big plus!
Pain and Process Length
The process of getting a stick and poke tattoo will take longer than a regular machine tattoo since the artist has to create lines by poking your skin with a needle one dot at a time. It could be a long, tedious process, but in the end well worth it.
As for the pain, stick and poke tattoos are less abrasive, so they often hurt less than regular tattoos. However, some say they hurt more, so in the end, it all depends on the placement and your pain tolerance.
Last but not least, the design of your tattoo is something you should really think about and discuss with your artist before making the final decision. Like regular tattoos, hand-poked tattoos can be done in any style, shape, or color, so the options are endless.
Below are just some design ideas that will help you in choosing your perfect tattoo.
This tropical fruit can be an interesting and unique tattoo design, especially if it happens to be your favorite fruit. Lychees represent love, well-being, beauty, and sensuality in ancient China, and in combination with water chestnuts, they symbolize cleverness.
This juicy, late summer fruit can be an excellent choice for any fruit lovers or a fun and quirky design for a stick and poke tattoo. If you’re not a fan of lychee, take a look at another fruity design idea Colorful Fruit Bowl.
2. Tiny Bunny
A small bunny tattoo can be a perfect choice if the rabbit is your favorite animal or if you just want an adorable little addition. You can get the bunny done in a cute pose, with a carrot or with flowers, or you can decide to go for a simpler and clean-cut design, as in this photo.
Unlike many other animals with different meanings in different cultures, a rabbit has always been used to symbolize the same things across the world. They can represent fertility, good luck, and prosperity, or your love of nature and animals.
3. Hand With a Candle
Another very unique design, this tattoo can represent your witchy, mysterious side or your love and belief in magic. A candle can be a symbol of religion or spirituality, or it can represent hope and your positive view on life.
You can even alter the design and place a different object in the hand with something more personal and meaningful for you. Either way, this design can end up being the most exciting stick and poke tattoo to add to your collection.
4. Zippo Lighter
A lighter tattoo is an eternally cool design that can look great in many styles, allowing you to make it unique and personal. It can be an excellent option for tattoos in color, just black or black with one bright color, as in this particular design.
A lighter doesn’t have to be just for smokers. It can also be for anyone who is fascinated by fire or simply likes the design. Check out this match tattoo as a possible alternative to the lighter Match and Smoke.
Snake tattoos have become increasingly trendy in recent years, especially the minimal line art designs like the one in this photo. The most popular ones are done in black or red, but it’s up to you to choose the color you like.
The symbol of a snake carries different meanings across different cultures. They are mostly associated with transformation, immortality, and rebirth. They can also stand for knowledge, wisdom, or patience. No matter the meaning, this is a fun design you can add on and play with, and it can fit anywhere on the body.
The rose has always been one of the most sought out tattoo designs with many different available styles, and it’s no different with stick and poke options. It is a beautiful and meaningful design idea as a rose can represent so many things. It can be a symbol of hope, joy, love and have a special meaning depending on the color. It is another stick and poke tattoo design idea you could place anywhere and always add on to.
A dagger is such a cool stick and poke design idea since it fits really well anywhere on the body. It can be tiny and in a gentle and feminine style, or large and warrior-looking, and you can experiment with the design and add to it later on.
Your dagger tattoo can represent various things. It can symbolize freedom, skills, and a sharp intellect or signify bravery and protection. In any case, it can be a unique tattoo design to add to your collection.
8. Moon Phases
The Moon has been admired by many throughout history, with some even believing it to be a deity. It has numerous meanings and can be a symbol for many things, including time, change, creativity and power. The Moon has always been a mystical thing, so it makes a great tattoo design idea for all those who appreciate astrology, tarot, or the sky.
The Moon designs come in many shapes and phases, allowing you to make this motif your own. In this photo, the Moon is shown in different cycles, symbolizing birth, death, and reincarnation.
9. Tiny Scissors
Tiny scissors might be the cutest design so far and a must for all those hairstylists and hairdressers out there! A small tattoo like this requires special care and shouldn’t be done on exposed areas of your body that you often wash, such as hands or feet.
In any case, it makes for a fun stick and poke design idea that you can easily hide or get in a place that only you can see. It’s perfect for anyone who doesn’t want to or can’t have their tattoos showing.
10. Dots and Symbols
Dot and symbol tattoos have been common around the world since ancient times, used as a way to express different religions, cultures, and beliefs. They remain a popular yet bold choice today.
They are a great stick and poke tattoo idea especially, considering that this technique is usually used for fingers and other tricky areas. There are various design options with these kinds of tattoos, allowing you to truly personalize your tattoo. If you like the idea, but prefer a more clean-cut style, take a look at this simple black rings design.
11. Tiger With a Sword
This beautiful tiger design idea is a great example of how delicate and detailed stick and poke tattoos can be. It depicts the tiger laying down with a sword in his mouth, representing power and strength.
Tigers do generally stand for power, but they can also symbolize independence, courage, or beauty. You could adjust the design to your liking and place a rose or another flower instead of the sword or change the tiger’s pose to fit the place you want to get tattooed.
12. Hello Kitty
This Hello Kitty or “Howdy Kitty” stick and poke design can be an adorable and unique tattoo idea, especially if you are a fan of this lovable character. Hello Kitty can be found in various outfits of many different styles, so you can really play around with this design and make it even more unique and special.
This tattoo highlights friendship and love, as Hello Kitty has no mouth, which symbolizes speaking from the heart.
13. Purple Butterfly
A butterfly is one of the most popular design ideas when it comes to tattoos, both standard and stick and poke. What makes the butterfly an excellent choice for a tattoo is that it can be done in any style, size, or color.
The best thing is that real butterflies are already unique and varied enough, so you don’t have to try too much to make this tattoo your own. Butterflies come with many meanings, and a purple butterfly is meant to represent joy and bring good luck.
14. Black Rings
Nowadays, the black rings design has become trendy, being more like permanently inked jewelry than a tattoo. This tattoo is generally done with the stick and poke technique, as it is easier to get the tiny lines perfect.
Even though this is a pretty design idea, you should know that the ink on your fingers can’t stay forever. Since our hands are exposed and often washed, the ink will fade faster. So for the tattoo to remain fresh, you’d have to go for a touch-up from time to time.
Bee is another great design choice for a stick and poke tattoo and one of the most beloved and important insects for people. This design can be done realistically or tiny and cute, depending on your preference and style.
Since ancient times, bees were used as a symbol of prosperity, wealth, and good luck. However, they can also represent the Sun, community, or your love of nature. If you like insect tattoos, take a look at another cool design.
16. Tiny Stars
Tiny stars are one of the cutest designs. They are the perfect stick and poke tattoo for all people in love with the sky. You can play around with the design, get the stars in bright colors, or maybe a specific constellation. You can even add the Moon and the Sky; the options are endless!
It is a gentle and dreamy design, showing your romantic side. You can also easily adjust the style to fit your taste. A star tattoo can symbolize hope, honor, and success, and they are believed to bring good luck. If you prefer the Moon, check out Crescent Moon.
17. Rainbow in Color
This colorful rainbow is a cute stick and poke tattoo idea. A rainbow is such a happy, and positive thing loved and admired by many, bringing numerous meanings and representing various things.
A rainbow is a symbol of the LGBTQ community, but beyond that, it can signify peace, joy, friendship, and a love of color and life. For another colorful stick and poke tattoo idea, take a look at this tiny landscape tattoo.
A scorpion tattoo design can represent passion, rebirth, strength, and transition. This tattoo is also believed to bring protection and luck, and it can be a great stick and poke tattoo for all those who like unusual animals.
The tattoo style depends on your preferences, so your scorpion can look very realistic and threatening or even cute and cartoonish. For another unique but simpler and more gentle animal tattoo design, take a look at this dinosaur tattoo.
19. Cinderella’s Castle
This tiny Cinderella’s castle can be the perfect stick and poke design choice for all those who grew up watching Disney movies and want to get a permanent reminder of their childhood. And, if you can’t decide who your favorite princess is, this iconic castle design can be used to represent all the beloved Disney characters combined.
If you are a fan of Disney, check out another this stick and poke fairy design you might enjoy.
20. Tiny Elephant
An elephant tattoo can be done in various styles, colors, or sizes, and a small stick and poke elephant can be a great choice for anyone who prefers a simpler and more playful design. You could also adjust the idea to make it more your own by changing the color or adding more details to the existing structure.
This simple line art style makes for a cute tattoo you can easily fit anywhere. It carries deep meaning, as an elephant can symbolize patience, strength, loyalty, and good luck.
21. Abstract Sun
This beautiful abstract sun idea can be a great stick and poke design choice for anyone who admires and loves the Sun, and all that it represents. It’s a pretty unique design you can play around with and make it memorable, as it is just a combination of lines and dots.
The Sun is a timeless symbol when it comes to tattoos and life itself. It can be found in any style, size, and color imaginable. If you like the Sun but prefer its nighttime partner, check out this Moon design.
This tiny glass of lemonade is another unique tattoo that can easily fit anywhere and look cute in a bright color or only black. The design can be a symbol for making lemonade when life gives you lemons or simply represent your favorite drink.
The lemon can be used to embody the sun, positivity, and happiness. It can also just be a cute idea, and you could even change it up and get your favorite cocktail or juice instead!
In ancient Egypt, the beetle was a symbol of birth and renewal, but even beyond that, this interesting insect can represent various things. The beetle has strong spiritual connections, and it can symbolize love, luck, creativity, strength, persistence, and hard work.
No matter the meaning, it can be a great stick and poke design choice that can be placed anywhere on the body. You can get it in black and white as in this photo, or opt for a full-color tattoo and choose your favorite beetle species.
24. Crescent Moon
Another excellent idea for sky lovers, a black crescent moon design, can be the perfect choice for anyone who prefers all-black minimal tattoos. Since the Moon is so circular, it makes for a great shape to place anywhere and can even be used to fill in any remaining empty spaces you might have. The best thing is that you can always change up the style, size, and shape to fit your preference.
The Moon has many meanings, with different shapes and phases representing various things, with the crescent Moon symbolizing fertility and transition.
25. Delicate Ribbon
This little ribbon can be a wonderful idea for a stick and poke tattoo. Due to its delicate and gentle design, it will look better with this technique. This particular design is done in black and white, but you can choose your favorite color to make it even more special since different colored ribbons represent many things.
Bows and ribbons are generally used as a symbol of grace, elegance, and beauty, but they can also represent strength or support and awareness for some health conditions.
26. Tiny Dragonfly
If you like the beetle tattoo idea, but prefer prettier insects, then a dragonfly tattoo might be a good choice for you. Dragonflies make for a great tattoo design, as they are already so colorful and beautiful, the options for your tattoo are endless.
However, if you are not a fan of colored tattoos, you could opt for a small minimal design, such as this one. Dragonflies are meant to bring luck and harmony and symbolize strength, peace, and independence.
27. Lotus Flower
A lotus flower can represent various things, including peace, strength, beauty, and purity. It is a symbol strongly connected to Buddhism, signifying perfection, rebirth, and spiritual awakening.
Different colored lotus flowers hold various meanings, so getting a lotus in a specific color might be a cool way to make it more personal. If you opt for a black and white design, lotus still makes for a fun and pretty stick and poke tattoo idea.
This beautiful design can be a fantastic idea for a stick and poke tattoo since this technique allows the artist to really work out those tiny details. A seashell tattoo design can be an excellent choice for any sea and sand lover.
It can be a reminder of your childhood or simply a cute tattoo addition. Seashells usually represent protection, as they protect the animals inside. However, they can also symbolize rebirth, fertility, or good fortune.
A ghost tattoo can represent many different things, depending on the design and style. It can be scary, serious, funny, or even cute, and it can symbolize a loss of a loved one or stand as a symbol of the unknown.
As with this particular design, it can look like a costumed figure and simply serve as a fun tattoo without any specific meaning. There are also many famous ghosts, so you can adapt the style and use it to represent a beloved character.
30. Lush Granny Lamp
This quirky little lamp can be a great, unique idea for a stick and poke tattoo design. You can really play around with this design and choose the pattern, style, and color of the lamp that you prefer.
It could represent anything related to light, such as life, truth, or faith, or just show off an object dear to you. This granny lamp might be a tribute to your grandma or simply a fun and unusual tattoo addition.
31. Texas Longhorn
A bull tattoo design generally represents masculinity, strength, power, and courage. A Texas longhorn is just one of many types of bulls, and it symbolizes abundance and fruitfulness, in addition to the usual meanings.
This impressive animal can be the ultimate tattoo choice for any true Texan or just a cool, unusual stick and poke tattoo idea that would work best in black and white. For another interesting animal design idea, take a look at this armadillo tattoo.
A quote has always been one of the most popular design ideas, no matter the technique; done in all styles, colors, and sizes. This tattoo idea might be the most unique of all since the text can be something only you know and understand, in any visible or hidden place on your body, and in any language imaginable.
It can be your favorite song lyrics, a quote from a book, or some life motto you go by. In any case, this design brings endless options and allows you to really make the tattoo your own.
33. Palm Tree
A palm tree is such a fun tattoo idea, as you can experiment with the design and place it almost anywhere. This particular stick and poke tattoo is done in black, with a small red sun, and this kind of black and red style is becoming more and more popular lately since it is a great way to add a bit of color.
A palm tree can represent peace, victory, eternal life, or simply show off your love of the beach and an easy-going attitude towards life.
This adorable little stick and poke design is perfect for all those archeologists and ancient history lovers out there. This particular design is done in a cute and simple style, so it can also be a fun new addition without meaning.
If you are a fan of prehistoric times, this one is a must. It’s a perfect opportunity to show off your favorite dinosaur, and if this is something you are into, the options are almost endless.
A snail can be another cool animal idea that would look great in all black or bright colors. It’s not everyone’s favorite animal, so it would surely be unique, especially if you play around with the design and make something unusual, as in the photo here.
Giving the snail a face really makes it your own, and you can choose any facial expression you like. A snail can be a symbol of laziness and patience or just a funny tattoo.
36. Ginkgo Biloba Leaf
Ginkgo biloba is a tree known for its various healing properties, used in medicine since ancient times. Its leaf is pretty and a great idea for a stick and poke tattoo with many meanings.
The ginkgo leaf can represent endurance, good health, and longevity. This rare tree is one of the oldest existing plant species, and whether or not you care about the meaning behind it, it still makes for a beautiful tattoo design.
The armadillo is anything but usual, so it’s another quirky animal tattoo idea. This tough little mammal can be a symbol of protection and survival, as well as a representation of compassion, trust, and complexity.
It is a cute and yet strong little animal, making it a perfect tattoo choice for someone who wants to stand out.
38. Colorful Fruit Bowl
This colorful fruit bowl can be a great alternative to the lychee fruit design, perfect for anyone who loves to eat healthy or just loves fruit and food in general. It can also be a nice choice for a stick and poke tattoo idea for all vegetarians and vegans out there.
You can easily change the style of the bowl to make it more unique, and choose your favorite fruit to put in the bowl to personalize this design.
Dogs are our best friends, and poodles are one of the most popular and beloved breeds out there. And for a good reason, as they are adorable and fluffy, and as such make for a great tattoo idea.
Their fur is fun to play with, so your poodle can be cute and tiny, or fancy and cool, like the one in the photo. If you like dogs, but not poodles, you can always choose a different breed and immortalize your furry best friend.
40. Match and Smoke
This can be another cool stick and poke design idea, especially for those who admire fire or simply enjoy lighting their cigarette with a match. The match in this design is unlit, with wisps of smoke around it, which could symbolize matter transforming into the spirit.
It could also just be a mysterious tattoo since the non-lit match is more unusual than a burning one. This tattoo could fit well anywhere on the body, considering the design is quite small and simple.
41. Two Cats
A cat is another beloved pet that makes for a cool tattoo idea. A cat tattoo can represent your pet or is simply a cute and playful design, as in the photo.
This particular stick and poke design depicts two cats, which can serve as a symbol of you and your best friend or signify luck or mischief. It can also just be a fun new tattoo, suitable for all cat and animal lovers out there.
42. Two Puzzle Pieces
A puzzle piece is a tattoo that can carry deep meaning, as this design represents the universal symbol for autism. Other than that, a puzzle piece tattoo can be a metaphor for life, representing the challenges we face and signifying how everything is connected, similar to a million small puzzle pieces.
This tattoo design can also be an excellent choice for a matching tattoo for best friends, couples, or any people sharing a special connection. Getting two puzzle pieces fitting together as in this particular design can signify that you are your special person.
43. Tiny Skull
Skulls might not be the cutest thing ever, but a small stick and poke design like this one can make them look adorable. This design is an excellent choice for anyone who appreciates the mysteries of life and death.
Skulls have always been a popular symbol when it comes to tattooing, and there are many meanings behind this design. They generally represent death but can also signify strength, power, and protection.
44. Stack of Symbols
Another fun and trendy design is this stack of symbols. Even though it’s become more common nowadays, it still makes for a great stick and poke design idea you can adjust to your liking.
This tattoo can be a combination of any kind of symbols, stacked in any way you like so that it fits perfectly anywhere on the body, with a deep and personal meaning and beautiful aesthetic.
45. Tiny Cowgirl Hat
A cowboy or cowgirl hat is a wonderful stick and poke idea for all those who long for the freedom of the Wild West or simply lead or love the cowboy lifestyle.
It can be a great tattoo design for anyone from Texas or the country, and it can even be used as a symbol of an outlaw. No matter the meaning, this little cowgirl hat makes for a simple and cute tattoo design you can do in color or black-only.
46. Wooden Spoon
The wooden spoon is another unique tattoo idea, and it can be a great choice for all chefs, cooks, or food lovers out there. Spoon tattoos generally represent positivity and satisfaction, but they can also signify that the wearer struggles with chronic pain or illness.
In any case, even if you don’t care about the meaning, it can still be a fun stick and poke design to add to your collection.
47. Tiny Landscape
A colorful miniature landscape can be a great stick and poke design for anyone who prefers colorful tattoos rather than those done with black ink only. This particular design depicts a sunset in Jeju, the largest island in South Korea. Of course, you can change it up and choose any kind of landscape you like.
It can be a representation of a place you love, with the Sun, the Moon, or just a clear blue sky.
48. Happy Cloud
A cloud design can be an excellent idea for all sky and nature lovers. There are various options for the style of a cloud tattoo, and as such, the meanings are varied as well.
A cloud tattoo can represent resilience, hope, change, and stability, among other things. Different colored clouds will have different meanings, some more positive than others. This particular design depicts a happy, smiling cloud that can be an ideal stick and poke idea for all the optimistic souls out there.
Another enchanting design idea, these magical fairies are a perfect tattoo design choice for anyone who loves Tinker Bell, fairies, and magic in general. It’s also a good option for all Disney fans.
Fairy tattoos usually come in bold, bright colors but can also look beautiful in just simple black, as in this particular design. No matter the color, your fairies can appear magical and sparkly and represent love, beauty, or grace. They are supposed to bring good luck but can also just be a beautiful, new tattoo.
50. Question Mark
In the end, if you still don’t like any previous design idea and don’t know which stick and poke tattoo to get, a question mark might be a funny and appropriate choice for you.
This tattoo design is the perfect choice for all the thinkers out there and people who have a critical problem-solving approach. In addition, a question mark tattoo is the symbol of the Bahala Na gang, created in the Philippines in the early 1940s. But in any case, for you, it can just be a fun new tattoo design.
Choosing the Best Stick and Poke Tattoo Design
Stick and poke tattoos are just as beautiful as machine tattoos but generally cheaper, which is one of the reasons why they’ve become so popular lately. The process of aftercare is the same, but hand-poked tattoos tend to heal faster, and even though they don’t last forever, if done correctly, your tattoo can last a long time. There are several pros and cons to getting this kind of tattoo, but if you are a true ink lover, it’s a technique you have to try!
The best stick and poke design will be the one that holds special meaning to you and fits your style perfectly. Usually, we see many small formats for this technique, such as this one.
However, that doesn’t have to be the only option, especially if you find a good artist who knows what they are doing and how to use this method properly, as seen in this tiger design.
Starting off with a small stick and poke tattoo can also be a great choice that will allow you to expand and add on to your design later on. You could perhaps get something like Black Rings, and then expand and add more symbols, dots, and lines, and turn it into something like this dots and symbols design.
Remember, a stick and poke tattoo on your hands and fingers will fade faster than in other places. However, if you are worried about some future jobs and don’t want your tattoo to be permanent, this can be a big plus!
No matter what, it’s always important to discuss everything with your artist beforehand and follow the instructions for aftercare precisely to give your tattoo the best chance to look good and last longer.