Instructional Guide Basics
How to use Our Pick and Poke Tattoo Stick
and Our Basic Tattoo Instructions.
First study everything you can about pick and poke tattoos. Basically we feel you should have done that. But we also believe in our client’s ability to think for themselves. So tattoo at your own risk, don’t hurt or harm others and only you are responsible for your actions.
In the past tattooist learned from other tattooist and only through years as an apprentice and years of training. So no single instructions page or booklet is going to make you a grand master. You are going to mess up. Fact! But you will get better by reading and watching videos of tattoo artist both good and bad.. We recommend this very much.
Warning on a couple things. Our opinion is that learning on “fake skin” is B.S. And those companies that sell it are ripping you off. They claim this helps and they probably believe their own BS. But fake skin is nothing like real flesh. You will quickly find this out. You are your best canvas. So remember Fake Skin is sold by ripoff fake tattoo hustlers.
We are a no bullS__t company because we have been doing this 40 years. I will personally challenge any pick and poke company to a tattoo-off. One of our guys has his whole entire body covered with pick and poke. Another has 500 + and we are not sure who counted them. Anyways back to ink.
BTW there are going to be typing errors grammer screw ups and probably the most politically incorrect stories but that’s because we are also real. We love what we do more than anything. And when we started this industry was ran by bullies and rough individuals. We scratched our way up by being just as tough and always standing our ground. We love the openness of the industry, but also realize with it comes the worst scum in the tattoo life. Liars fakers and the carnival mentality. We look at the “kits” offered and just want to puke. Than the videos that are made by the same people are horrible because they don’t know the first thing about the tattoo world and life. Ok so if we haven’t offended some of you were sorry we will try harder next time.
Remember you can email us with any questions about the art and we will give your questions 100 % of our attention.
Ok back to tattooing.
Clean the area your going to be tattooing at. Pick an place your most comfortable. Some prefer a floor like our Japanese brothers and sisters. So put a clean blanket down. Some prefer a table. Great, Use bleach and water. Wash the table or where ever very well. Be overly safe on this step. Prevention of disease or infection is best started now. For me its almost a ritual or spiritual thing in itself. Fact is I have seen tattoos done in horrible back alley filth and all turned out well. I actually checked. But that doesn’t mean we should be filthy just because others were.
1. Spread out some plastic wrap and tape it down. When doing ink put a few paper towels over that area of plastic wrap. Prevents mess and sweat.
I have had times where I wrap a towel in plastic wrap so the person can lay there body part on my lap do to the fact we were tattooing in the back of a hippy bus at concerts. Good times.
2. Wash the body part your about to put ink on. A good antibacterial soap is great. In fact I like to use a liquid soap in spray bottle mixed with 50 % isopropyl alcohol. And water. But liquid soap as green soap. Is by far the best. Recommend it highly. We send alcohol pads with our kits,
3. Shave area lightly. Use alcohol on paper towel lightly after to insure all yuk is gone.
4. Placing pattern on skin. So many ways to do it. For first few small pieces, just draw them on with a new bic type pen. Don’t use same pen on multiple people, germs are there.
5. Ill be doing a booklet on underground tattooing that will cover the many ways to stick a pattern. We get requests for this info weekly.. Trapper is working on it now.
6. Take some vasoline or petroleum non scented and put a dab on the bottom plastic cup. This keeps your ink cups from falling over easily . Dab the bottom of cup into the jell now your cup will stick to the tray, table or plate and wont fall over easily. I used to have a board in my tattoo backpack that I carried all my supplies in, including a chopping board I would wrap in plastic for each tatoo. I recommend a tattoo go bag or back pack. I traveled the world with mine.
7. Fill cup with BlackHearts tattoo ink. Sorry a little brand push. You can use any brand of black tattoo ink you prefer. This is our own and proven brand. Our ink is a thicker tattoo ink. Enjoy… we have for so many years.
Do not touch that bottle again once you start tattooing, to prevent cross contamination and tip of ink bottle must never get close to any already used ink cup. BAD BAD BAD.
8. Time to put on gloves. If you haven’t already.
Remember gloves, petroleum jell, plastic wrap almost everything can be got at a local store. We love the dollar store for supplies and have found same sort of stores all over the globe. Put stencil on your skin after applying a thin coat of tattoo gel. some of our larger kits come with Tattoo Stencil Gel, there are many brands on the market. apply thin coat of gel and then after a few seconds apply the stencil. make sure to lightly rub all of the stencil lightly to insure it takes to the skin...
Trapper used to practice the art of applying a stencil, over and over. it truly is a learned process and you will get better. we recommend watching free videos of many different artists putting on stencils.
First our Tattoo Sticks
9. Attach professional tattoo needle to Pick and Poke Stick by slipping needle "eye" over Stick nub, the stumpy looking thing.
10. Take any form of medical tape or stretchy wrap bandage dressing tape and give needle a tight wrap about an inch from tip of stick.. Needle will now be snug and firmly in its unmoving state. Perfect. There will be tension on needle, that is on purpose. It insures the needle cant slip. There will be a “bow” in needle bar that is on purpose also. It shows there is tension.
Incase you dont have our Tattoo Sticks
OK… Now for those of you that haven’t bought our tattoo stick. COOL… here what you do. Take a tongue suppressor wooden flat sticks and place pro needle on to stick, take the medical tape included in package or string and tightly wrap around sticks VERY VERY tightly. And tie off. anther way is tie pro needle to any stick very tightly and boom read to ink. Done this many hundreds of times.. you have to throw away after each use. The convenience of our pro sticks is they are cleaned with bleach and hot water and reusable. Also super quick to change needles sizes.
Read some of the reviews and we are honored at how positive our Tattoo sticks have become. The sticks are really allowing for expert level art to be created.
11. Put a real thin layer of petroleum jell over tattoo patter on skin. Helps protect pattern and prevents ink from flowing everywhere. Some prefer to use all sorts of cool name products that a choice. The jell works. A moment of truth I rarely do it. others here do. Its a technical choice. I don’t wipe as often as others as I am confident in my depth and ink push which you will have with time.
ANOTHER HINT: This is where you stretch the skin….don't be ridiculous about it.. but pull skin tight so there is no bounce for the needle. When shading it helps to have the skin tight as you will do half the ink work. You will learn to pull with fingers, palms, against a knee, whatever. I have friends help in the shop, but I usually do bigger pieces, so they learn by watching and being a part of the inky process. Anyways STRETCH THE SKIN!!
12. So take Tattoo stick and dip needle in ink. Your ready to start. The first few pokes should by light and ink probably wont stick but start light and ease into the art of tattooing. Angle the needle a bit to the side instead of straight up and down. Some say 14degrees. I ve never been so mathematical you will get a tilt that works best for you. You will want no more than a dimes depth ever, ever, ever, that means ever. The needle enters first layer of skin and I could put pictures of it but that is useless and done by people that don’t tattoo. When you pull needle out you pull it up it will make a light pull on skin thus the pick. Your picking at the skin surface and poking back in to repeat. For the outline let’s just get all the way around tattoo pattern slowly and methodically. IMPORTANT don’t wipe off your pattern.
13. Once you have made it around entire pattern you know what to expect now and start repeating. If your dots are spaced far apart fill the area in. its simple, tattoo machines work of the principle of lots of plunges in flesh with ink on needle equals an outline. Same deal here.
PAY ATTENTION…...The needle does not inject ink into the skin. When you dip the needle into the ink cup it allows ink to be in needle outside. When you touch needle to flesh ink will slide down needle to the skin from up and down movement of needle..called gravity….when I am told ink wont go into skin it is only one of a couple reason. The person is not actually penetrating the skin and that is usually because skin is not stretched tight enough. Or there is not enough ink on the needle grouping in first place. A BIG MISTAKE IS TO WIPE AFTER EVERY POKE…...use the ink on skin surface. Push needles through surface ink and into the skin. Plus saves on ink.
Watch how Japanese masters push in lift up. Same system here. Shading. Once done with outline you can start on shading here you can thin the Trappers Old School Ink with sterile water of witch hazel. Works great and easy to do. Want 50% add ½ water. 1/3 mix just add 2/3 water, 1/5 ad 4/5 th water. On an on. Email us if you have questions.
14. To shade start at outline and work away from it into the tattoo. Best advice ever. Read again.
15. Only you know how you want your ink to turn out. But always remember you can always do tattoo outline one day and shade in two or three weeks. Its not uncommon on a big piece to do a sleeve of outline over a week and then spend quality time putting in color seems good enough for underground Japanese artists for centuries
16. Give your new tattoo a good cleaning with liquid soap and then a small wipe of alcohol %50 isopropyl alcohol. Use a green soap. I used dawn dish soap and alcohol for years.
17. To wrap with bandage for first 8 to 12 hours sort of a huge deal. Its an open wound so be smart protect it with triple antibiotic or other Neosporin topical jells.
18. Now here is where every Smart ass is going to tell you what to use. Ill tell you now I used clear preparation H hemorrhoid clear gel for years because that is what the biker I learned from used in San Quinton Prison. Took down swelling and got redness out fast so guards wouldn’t see the new ink. Im not recommending it. Im just being truthful. We use so many different types I prefer A&D ointment . but that’s me. So we put A&D in all our kits.
19. Wrap with sterile bandage as you desire is best for you and leave it alone. Be good and study more tattoo videos. ( I have never used or worn a bandage in fact I think if a tattoo kit comes with bandages its because of absolute ignorance by non tattoo artist.) Its perfectly ok to keep the tattoo covered for the first 24 hours. But please let it breath.
Another mistake made is putting to much ointment on fresh ink. DON”T do it. If you “float” the new ink in petroleum the healing will be all messed up. Chunks of flesh will fall out and you will have to redo the entire tattoo months later. Just let the tattoo heal. Put light amount of treatment on it and you will be fine.
IF YOU EVER SEE INFECTION….GO TO DOCTOR. Every tattoo artist has seen an infected tattoo. Mostly it is from unclean hygiene on part of client. So please learn all you can about what staff and other horrible infections look like.. Internet is full of scary crap. So learn it!
20. Be safe, be clean , be happy, and you will discover the most amazing experience.
21. Thank you from all of us at www.pickandpoketattoo.com
Ok this is a personal warning from Trapper. All these new companies will preach more on safety and cleanliness than the art. There is a reason … they are not artist. They have never struggled in the underground tattoo world some don’t even have ink or just a few tattoos. Its Bull. We will answer you always. And just because all of us started tattooing in our teens We still learn more every year.
Beware of the hustlers. But this is a business and I truly hope some of you treat your art as a business. Tattoo on all you can. There is always a “pin cushion” as the biker who taught me would say. So sling that ink learn your stuff and if your afraid of screwing up than stop now. Cause you will. That’s part of the journey.
I get asked all the time how the regular guy can become a professional tattoo artist. That’s difficult question. If you desire to sling ink than you just will. You wont ask permission you will just do what your heart and soul calls you to do.
Every tattoo artist I know started doing ink in a closet or basement or kitchen. What is really upsetting is how many of them condemn it now. That’s horribly hypocritical since its ok for them but not you. I don’t live life that way. I also know what I consider some of the best artists in the world and they have never had a license of worked in a shop.. yet they are booked 6 months in advance. They are humble and true to their love of tattooing.
Another thing asked is when should someone move from stick tattoo too a electric tattoo machine. That's up to you. For us we do every form of the art. As I grow even older I find the Japanese form of IREZUMI so relaxing and I feel the control of the stick and needles and its just so much better of an experience. So once again that’s your call for you. Its comparing to complete different art forms.
Another question is can pick and poke do as detailed work as machine tattooing? Once again two different styles of art. But look at the back of a Japanese body suit and you make your own decision. I have seen and done portraits that are beautiful so can you...Practice, Practice Practice….live your art...
I hope we have been a help. This will continue to grow and we love your information. Let us know what we can do to make this all better. May you be blessed by the god of ink whoever that may be.
Trapper and the Crew.