DIY tattoos capture students’ imaginations

DIY tattoos capture students’ imaginations

Molly Schneider/Guilfordian

Spring has sprung, and students around campus are breaking out their warm weather clothes, hanging out with friends and … tattooing each other?

In lieu of professionally done tattoos, some Guilford students are turning to the artistic talent of their classmates to stick ’n poke permanent designs on their bodies.

“It’s one of those college experiences that you’re not necessarily going to regret, but it’s definitely an interesting story to tell your grandkids,” said senior Amanda Wimer.

Stick ’n poke tattoos, also known as do it yourself tattoos or jailhouse tattoos, are characterized by simple line work. Done by hand, one prick at a time, stick ’n pokes typically use sewing needles or single tattoo needles with black India ink.

“I was pretty weirded out by them at first because they didn’t seem very legit, but when I saw a bunch of people around with them, I changed my mind,” said one student who wishes to remain anonymous. “It’s cool leaving the mark of an artist on your skin.”

Although many students have been jumping into the stick ’n poke culture recently, the DIY tattoo phenomenon is not new.

“Stick ’n pokes have been around here at Guilford for as long as I’ve known about Guilford,” said Wimer. “I visited when I was 16, and it was a thing then. It’s always been a thing, but it comes and goes in stages.”

Students who want to express themselves but do not necessarily have the funds to go to a professional tattoo parlor are turning to their peers to share in the experience of body art.

The effect of stick ’n poking is a communal bond. The specific circumstances in which individuals receive stick ’n pokes vary, but all stick ’n pokers share a common experience.

“(Professional and DIY tattoos) have different memories attached to them, different experiences,” said sophomore Liam Midkiff. “If you go to a shop it is all professional and businesslike, so stick ’n pokes are a different experience. Usually, they are going to be done by somebody you know pretty well in a casual setting.”

Stick ’n pokes are usually smaller and simpler than professional tattoos because the nature of doing a tattoo by hand, dot by dot, limits the range of images that are feasible to tattoo.

“People get suns and moons and stars a lot,” said stick ’n poke artist and first-year Taryn Sneed. “Words are also popular, especially words over the kneecaps.”

Sneed said she has been giving and receiving stick n’ pokes since her junior year of high school.

“A lot of people I talk to get stick n’ pokes because they don’t really want a professional tattoo but will get a stick ’n poke to see what it’s like,” said Sneed.

Along with suns and moons, geometric shapes and symbols with various meanings are some of the images you will see on students around Guilford.

“Geometric stuff is easiest because of the simple lines,” said sophomore Mackenzie Jones. “But you’re just tracing lines, so you can pretty much do anything you want.”

Jones, who has tattooed both herself and others, found that tattooing herself is easiest.

“You can feel how hard to push (into the skin) and if you’re doing it right, but when you’re doing it on someone else, you can’t feel the needle and how deep it’s going,” said Jones.

People who are involved in stick ’n pokes or who want to be should be aware of the potential risks, like the spread of infectious diseases. Needles should be sterilized and the same needles and ink should never be used on more than one person.

Stick ’n pokes also require the same aftercare as professional tattoos, including the use antibacterial soap and unscented lotion.