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Beautifully Meticulous "Hand Poke" Tattoos Offer Less Painful Process with a Single Needle

Sarah March relies on an old fashioned and now-unconventional tattoo technique for creating stunning body art. Called “hand poke” or “stick ‘n poke,” this non-electric method–which was originally used by ancient tribes and prisoners–involves inserting ink into the skin via a series of countless single-needle pricks. To build form and apply shading, March uses a stipple effect for her monochromatic designs.

Many of March's tattoos depict patterns that have no definite outlines. In an interview with Cosmopolitan, she explains, “These can look really special hand poked as every single dot is an integral part of the design.” Because of this, she enjoys tattooing mandalas and other subjects that feature geometric motifs.

The meticulousness of this method communicates much more than just a willingness to withstand pain: it also highlights the intimate relationship between the artist and client, as these pieces are done at the speed of the human hand. It's an aspect that's lost with with modern tattoo machines, and something that March is helping to bring back. 

Sarah March: Instagram
via [Design TAXI]

Sara Barnes

Sara Barnes is a Staff Editor at My Modern Met and Manager of My Modern Met Store. As an illustrator and writer living in Seattle, she chronicles illustration, embroidery, and beyond through her blog Brown Paper Bag and Instagram @brwnpaperbag. She wrote a book about embroidery artist Sarah K. Benning titled 'Embroidered Life' that was published by Chronicle Books in 2019. Sara is a graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art. She earned her BFA in Illustration in 2008 and MFA in Illustration Practice in 2013.
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