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Ryan Smith

I'm a 30 year old American currently living in Germany while my wife studies her Master's. I also brew my own beer, enjoy photography, and play the guitar when I'm not working on improving my tattoo skills. Oh, and Netflix: who doesn't love Netflix?

How did you get into Stick & Poke Tattooing? 

I started learning how to tattoo in February of this year. I've never seriously considered tattooing until I realized that it's actually possible to tattoo large, high quality pieces without a machine. I had many professionally done tattoos already and I wanted more, but it was always hard for me to convey exactly what I wanted artistically to the artist. I decided that I wanted an outline of a bike around Christmas time and then realized that I could buy my own kit for less than going to a shop. After a few weeks of practicing on fruits and pig skin, I designed a simple bike and tattooed myself on my forearm.

What was it like the first time you put needle and ink to skin? 

I was super nervous the first time I tattooed myself! I really didn't want to have any undesirable designs on my skin and I wasn't sure what to expect. Luckily, I had a lot of tattoos on my body already and I decided to start learning by tracing the outlines of my tattoos that had faded a bit. It allowed me to learn how to line, how deep to go, how many pokes were required, etc... After I felt a bit more comfortable, I tattooed a simple bike on my wrist.

Why do you prefer hand-poking to machine tattooing? 

I prefer hand poking because of the more relaxed pace and simple nature of it. I love DIY and this falls into that category perfectly. The slower pace can get monotonous after hours, but it allows a little more room for error. If you make a single erroneous poke, you most likely won't be able to notice it as bad as if you were using a machine and made a mistake. It's also very nice to have no noise created by a machine. Tattooing in an apartment wouldn't be possible with all of the noise created by a machine.

What would you recommend to someone who wanted to start tattooing? 

I would recommend practicing as much as possible before actually tattooing skin. There are resources out there on YouTube, reddit, and other mediums that can help you with technique and safety. Designing will also help your skill set so either learning how to hand draw or use digital drawing programs (photoshop or illustrator) is highly recommended.

Do you have any tips or tricks when it comes to hand poke tattooing?

I think the best tip is to just be extremely patient and meticulous. Everyone wants the tattoo to be finished and it's easy to get lazy and rushed, but the difference of taking your time will be apparent in the end. 

So Single Needle Tattoo Kits, I believe that home tattooing is inherently risky, but people have, and will continue to tattoo themselves, therefore making a safe and affordable kit is the way forward... What's your take on this? 

I am all for anything that makes tattooing safer. Safety is the utmost priority when tattooing yourself or others. Creating your own artwork and tattoo is amazing, but it won't mean anything if it eventually becomes infected. Follow good practices and your tattoos will look good for years to come.
Instagram: @intlvertpoke


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