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  • Writer's pictureStacey Sharp

Stick & Poke Tattoos are Temporary? Really?

Hand poked tattoos have been around since the ancients began marking each other up a few thousand years ago. So, it's not a new thing. I know my own father and his friends tattooed each other in high school. Years later, my aunt did the same. These were some of the first tattoos I saw when I was a child. They're still there today, although much more faded and a bit more blurry. When I was in high school there were a couple of people we knew with hand poked tattoos. Mainly because we weren't old enough to have a tattoo done legally and getting a hold of equipment was damn near impossible. So even in my life, this hand poked thing is nothing new.

Lately, we've had a handful of younger people come through the shop with stick-and-poke tattoos. They want to either refine them and make them more appealing or completely cover them up. Thing is, they all seem to come in with the notion that hand poked tattoos aren't permanent. Somewhere they read online that stick-and-poke tattoos eventually just fade away to nothing. Gone. *poof*

This is some of the most misleading information, as marks have been made on the body in this manner for thousands of years. Tattoos done in this way should always be considered permanent, no matter what friends or the internet try to tell you. If it's put in with a needle or sharp instrument, it's there to stay.

And just a bit of FYI... yes there ARE professional stick-and-poke tattoo artists.

Random example of a hand poked or stick-and-poke tattoo.

So is there a temporary tattoo that will last for years and then fade away?

Nope. You either want it, or you don’t. There’s no real in-between. Years ago there were rumors of ink that only lasted a year or two or three… no one was ever sure how long it would take to fade. Truth is, it was regular tattoo ink and it was just put in a bit more shallow than normal- so yes, it would look like it was fading. But it would only fade so far. A lot of unsuspecting people were left with shoddy work that looked like it had been there ten years. However, by the time they realized that their ‘tattoo’ was there to stay, the shop had closed and the ‘artist’ was long gone with their money.

Just a few short years ago, a shop opened semi-locally and their selling point was that they’re using this new ink that only lasts 2 to 3 years. They tried like mad to get established artists to leave where they were working at the time to work for them. Guess what? None of the professional artists wanted to go to work for them. Why? Because we put a lot of time and effort and skill and LOVE into our work. We don’t want to see it fade away. Tattoos age fast enough as it is. Plus, we know that within months, that tattoo (if the ink DOES work the way they claim) will begin to look terrible pretty quickly. It’s not like you get to year two and suddenly it’s gone! 0.0 It would have to go through the long process of fading away (which would start immediately) and just look bad. And if the work looks bad, so does the artist. Questions directed towards these clients would tend to go from “Oh, who’s the artist?” to “Oh… who did that to you?”. Not a good thing.

Let's fast forward to a few years later…

Now I’m seeing articles appear in local papers. Surprise, surprise! People are starting to complain because their artwork didn’t fade away to nothing, like it was supposed to, within the time claimed. Far from it for some. They’re left with shoddy, messy work that they can either laser off or cover with a better tattoo.

So if you want it, do it. If you think you might regret it, best to leave it in the bottle. Or at least seek out a professional. Consider any tattoo done with a needle to be permanent and treat it as such.

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