Hand-poked Tattoos by Slow Pokes

Hand-poked Tattoos by Slow Pokes

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So, Georgia, why hand-poked tattoos?

Where do I begin? Haha... I adore the process of hand-poking for many reasons; at first it was appealing to me because the process originates from traditional forms of non-electric tattooing which I loved the idea of. The further I researched and the more I experimented I realised also, that hand-poked tattoos generally hurt less (which as much as I love my job I hate inflicting pain on others) so this is always a bonus! Hand-poked tattoos also heal quicker as it’s less trauma on the skin. Unlike machine-made tattoos, the entire design is made up by dots which eventually come together to form a unique piece of art, made entirely by the individuals hands alone (and a tattoo needle of course!). It’s a very satisfying process for myself and often therapeutic for everyone involved. I only see positives in regards to this method; the only ‘con’ might be the speed of the process... hence my name ‘SLOW POKES’.

How long did it take to learn the technique?

After observing my friends and fellow tattooists use machines for many years, I adopted this method and taught myself how to hand-poke. I can't really define a time as I’m still learning! There’s always something new to learn and room to develop your technique. I did my first hand-poke around three years ago, so I still consider myself a junior tattoo artist. However within the last two years, I have worked very hard to make my lines solid and have seen my work progress to the point where I feel like most of my line work looks machine-made! So I’m happy to say that I’m developing my technique.

Do you ever pick up a machine?

I have picked up a machine a few times but only tattooed on myself, so I now have some questionable flowers on my leg - I didn’t enjoy the process at all. I love old school tattoo machines, however the vibration and noise is far too stressful for me. I love the quiet intimacy of hand-poking much more!

We can see you have a couple of guest spots booked in for the summer, what do you love most about guesting?

I love guesting as it combines all my favourite things: travelling, socialising and tattooing! I have moved around to many places from a young age and consider myself an independent woman, so I find guesting exciting. I have just moved up North to Sheffield but I guest regularly in London and continue to tattoo projects with my existing London clientele whilst also booking guests abroad. Post-covid, I have many guest spots lined up and I’m excited to travel to many more places. I often find I learn a lot more whilst guesting as you get to interact with many new and interesting artists who you can observe and talk to about all things tattoo related.

Dream country to tattoo in?

Omg the big dream is to work in Bali. I had a guest spot lined up but, due to Covid, everything is on hold. Imagine waking up with the sun, doing some beach yoga and tattooing in one of the most beautiful places on our planet! Dreamy vibes all around...

How are you feeling about going back to work after such a long amount of time off?

I am so ready to get back to tattooing! It’s been weird getting used to not tattooing for long periods of time; it’s more a passion than a job for me so I felt a bit lost at first. But I’ve spent this time trying to enjoy other blessings in my life and creating different things. Getting out in nature has been the best medicine for sure. I’ve also massively missed the social aspect of tattooing so I’m super keen to get back to meeting wonderful souls and talking about anything and everything with them. My clients have always been amazing and I often feel like we end up being friends by the end of a session.

Is caring for hand-poked tattoos during the healing process the same for machine tattoos?

Yes, you do care for them the same but will often find that hand-poke tattoos heal quicker than machine made tattoos - depending on the person, of course. I’m all about recommending natural products for aftercare, so the Stories & Ink range is perfect for healing tattoos.

What are you loving about the Stories and Ink range? 

I love that it’s vegan, cruelty free and contains all natural ingredients. Happy animals, happy products, happy skin and happy tattoos - it’s all positive! Also the products smell great and give that extra TLC that your tattoos need, both during and after the healing process. My favourite product is the Vibrancy Serum for sure; it gives the 'old but gold' tattoos a new glow.

Who was your biggest supporter when becoming a tattoo artist?

My biggest supporter was my good friend and fellow tattooist Maria aka @lamat_tattoo. I met Maria when I was just a teen when I started as a cleaner/ piercer at my local tattoo studio. Maria was working there as a tattooist and piercer. We became very close and even lived together for a period. I watched her tattoo with a machine and that’s the basis of the technique which I then applied to hand-poking. We’ve both grown together as artists and still work closely together. She’s practically family now!

Where do you see the tattoo industry in 5-10 years time?

Good question. Just like fashion, it changes, evolves, develops and often recycles - the tattoo industry is the same. I definitely see a massive movement at the moment in relation to female tattooists, predators within the industry and also racial awareness. This is really important and transformative for the industry and for us as tattooists; it’s important to educate ourselves and address these issues. I hope, in the future, we can eradicate these issues and transform the industry into a more loving and equal space. Tattooing is a beautiful way for people to express themselves and I can only see it getting more popular globally. I also see it developing in its styles, especially with technology forever progressing. I think, because of that, the tattoos can only improve technically as well. However, I hope the hand-poke method is still treasured and appreciated. Even in the last five years, I’ve seen how trendy stick and poke tattoos have become, so fingers crossed it only continues to grow in its popularity!

Be sure to check out Slow Pokes' amazing hand-poke work on her Instagram.