So you’ve decided you want a new look. You want a beard, a shit taste in music, and some sick tattoos.
Unfortunately, though the first two come free, tattoos don’t. When you’re down to the last 20 quid of your overdraft, having an intricate anchor inked on your arm for a cool £400 can seem less than appealing.
Which is probably why more and more people are turning to DIY cheap “stick and poke” tattoos. For as cheap as £20 you can forgo a proper tattoo experience in an actual shop and pick yourself up a DIY kit online instead.
Containing needles, wipes, gloves and ink, it’s easy to convince yourself you’re a proper tattoo artist and give it a go. But tattooing yourself as a total novice probably isn’t going to give you the masterpiece you’re after.
Harry, a 20-year-old Biochemist at Southampton, has had his fair share of experiences with stick and poke work, and has a small, uneven cross on his ankle to show for it.
Harry, who is also inked professionally, said: “I don’t really consider my DIY one as one of my tattoos. Like if someone asked how many I have, I show them the proper ones first and then, depending on who it is, I’ll show them the DIY one.”
Like many people who indulge in DIY tattoos, Harry was drunk when he got his stick and poke creation. He said: “The overall experience is tricky to remember as I was so fucked, But I think DIY tattoos are just a bit of fun really. As it’s on my ankle and super small it doesn’t bother me, just a reminder of a great night.”
The experience for the Soton student was different to what he felt when visiting a professional shop. He said: “Well, I think I was more scared about getting my professional tattoo done as it seemed more clinical. Also getting it done professionally hurt more.”
For others not spurred on by alcohol, stick and poke is an alternative because of the money you save not having it don’t professionally. But Connor, a 20-year-old film student from Kent, thinks having it done on the cheap is a false economy.
Connor explained: “It’s not really a good way to save money at all. I don’t think anyone would tattoo themselves to save money because it simply looks homemade.”
For Connor, the little tattoo that your mate drunkenly scribbled on to your ankle at 3am just isn’t going to live up to a tattoo that you have paid for to have done properly in a parlour. The Kent student has a vast array of tattoos which are mostly professionally done. But he also has a couple of DIY tattoos thrown in for good measure.
Connor added: “Homemade tattoos tend to be small ‘token’ tattoos on easy to conceal parts of the body. Like that tattoo on my ankle is executed terribly but both me and my [tattoo] artist love it because of its authenticity and charm.”
Could it be that the personal touch of the DIY tattoo is where its appeal comes from? After all, if you are going to have something on your body for the rest of your life, surely you should be the one to do it?
So if DIY tattoo’s are just a bit of fun, that can also be meaningful, whats the harm? But speaking to some professional tattoo artists based in Shoreditch there appears to be a consensus that, even though DIY tattoos may be fun, they can be dangerous for your health.
Mario and Alex from “Shall Adore” tattoo studio explained how, although they can understand why people may get in to DIY tattooing they think that it can be extremely dangerous.
They said: “Not only does DIY tattooing cause an issue with hygiene but their is also a danger with ink, as many people won’t be using proper ink”.
The artists are pretty certain that opting for stick and poke is a stupid idea to begin with, and doesn’t save you money in the long run.
“You get what you pay for as well, if you’re putting something on your body for the rest of your life you want a professional to do it. That is sanitary, and safe. If you’re sitting at home with a needle that you bought online, that is not safe”.
Alex even told us how on some kits he has seen online contain a warning that the ink it comes with could be toxic or not proper tattooing ink.
Ultimately they believe that people should leave tattooing to the professionals.
Alex said: “With tattooing, there’s a certain process to training and everything. It’s a very long and a very difficult process which takes years of self discipline and hard work. This is something that you’re just not going to get with some kit you have bought online.”
Have you had a tattoo you regret? Let us know in the comments!