Posted on August 12 2021
We had the pleasure of talking to Sunnie, an incredible hand poke artist based in Worcester. We're always amazed by the detail and quality of her designs, so we had to interview her for our blog.
Who are you and where are you based?My name is Sunnie, I grew up in the Cotswolds, lived in Cheltenham for 10 years but have settled in Worcestershire for the last 2 years. I am a resident artist at the well established Lock & Key Tattoo in Worcester City Centre.
How long have you been a tattoo artist for and how did you learn?
I have been a working tattoo artist for less than a year. It has been something I have always wanted since leaving college 14 years ago. I finally felt confident enough to take a chance on myself and bought a Single Needle tattoo kit and started tattooing from then on. I have always kept up drawing throughout my twenties but didn’t have much of a direction until I started to teach myself the art of hand poke. It has given me the creative outlet that I’d always yearned for as art has always been such a huge piece of me. I feel like it was always what I was supposed to be doing.
Did you start hand poking after using a machine, or has the hand poked method always been your preference?Hand poke has always been my preferred method. I read a lot on Tebori tattooing, looking through old photographs of Tebori artists in Japan gave me so much inspiration, so I started out tattooing straight onto my legs. I didn’t use fake skin as I’m a fairly impulsive person. Practicing on myself gave me the best insight on how to use the needle and how far to poke in. I used different types and sizes, experimenting with different effects. I soon learnt the basics and felt I was gaining more control with the needle and it reflected in the outcome.
What is it you love most about stick and poke tattoos?I love the organic process, the precision, how simple it is. I love drawing with just pencil and paper and tattooing skin with a singular needle dipped in ink stimulates this. It seems to be more natural. Instinctive.
Tell us about your favourite hand poked story.
I’m not sure if I have a favourite story yet, but it always amuses me when customers come in for their appointments and when I ask whether they’ve had a hand poke tattoo before, they have no idea what I’m talking about. They just assume I tattoo with a machine. I try to make it clear in my social media that I am exclusively a hand poke artist, but now make a point to tell customers and explain the process in depth in our consultations.
What advice would you give someone starting out as a stick and poke artist?The advice I’d give to someone who wants to start hand poking is to just start, maybe invest in some fake skin but don’t be afraid to tattoo yourself. This is by far the best learning tool. Know that everyone’s skin is different, experimenting with different needles to find what works best for different techniques and styles. Draw lots. Reach out to other artists. And make sure you practice safe tattooing by learning about hygiene.