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Is handpoke tattoo better than the machine tattooing method?

Updated: Jan 22

If you're looking for a tattoo experience that is gentle and less invasive than the traditional machine tattooing with a gun, then handpoke might be the method for you.

tattoo artist creating a handpoke tattoo with a needle and no machine. Wearing black gloves.
Close up of professional tattoo artist, Lucy Brown creating a handpoke tattoo.

Handpoke tattooing, also known as stick-and-poke or hand-poked tattooing, involves using a needle and ink to manually create a tattoo without the use of a tattoo machine.

It's essential to note that whether handpoke tattooing is "better" than machine tattooing is subjective and depends on personal preferences, the skill of the tattoo artist, and the desired outcome. Both methods have their advantages and considerations:

  1. Control and Precision:

  • Handpoke tattoos can offer more control and precision in the hands of a skilled artist. The artist can have a finer touch and work more gradually compared to a machine, which may be beneficial for detailed or intricate designs.

  1. Less Noise and Vibration:

  • Handpoke tattooing tends to be quieter and produces less vibration than machine tattooing. Some people find this more comfortable, especially for smaller tattoos or in more sensitive areas. The handpoke method is much less aggressive on the nervous system due to there being no harsh vibrations from a machine.

  1. Slower Process:

  • Handpoke tattoos are generally a slightly slower process than machine tattoos. Some people appreciate the more relaxed pace, while others may prefer the efficiency of a machine, particularly for larger designs.

  1. Artistic Style:

  • Handpoke tattooing may lend itself well to certain artistic styles, such as minimalism or fine line work. The manual nature allows for greater artistic expression in some cases.

  1. Less Invasive:

  • Handpoke tattoos are less invasive than machine tattoos, as the needle penetrates the skin at a shallower depth. The needle inserts the ink with each poke and causes minimal damage to the skin surface. This results in a faster healing process. Unlike a machine which doing the same action but many times faster and the needle is dragged over the skin scratching and cutting the surface, causing more of a wound.

However, it's important to consider the potential drawbacks:

  1. Time-Consuming:

  • Handpoke tattoos can take longer to complete than machine tattoos, which may not be suitable for everyone, especially those seeking larger or more complex designs.

  1. Skill Dependency:

  • The quality of a handpoke tattoo heavily depends on the skill and experience of the artist. Not all artists are equally adept at handpoke techniques.

So, is handpoke tattoo better than machine tattooing method? Ultimately, whether handpoke tattooing is "better" depends on individual preferences, the specific design, and the expertise of the tattoo artist. If you're considering a tattoo, it's crucial to thoroughly research and choose a reputable and skilled artist who specializes in the technique you prefer. Always follow proper aftercare instructions regardless of the tattooing method used.


a woman tattoo artist with red hair tattoing without a machine
Lucy Brown, professional handpoke tattoo artist

If you would like to find out more about my particular method and style of handpoke please get in touch. I have an extensive collection of available tattoo designs which you can view in my online catalogue here

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