The Future of Stick and Poke Tattoos Has Arrived

Make your own mistakes on your own time.

Tattooing is an art form with several histories, but the most consistently practiced form of inking remains the old-school stick and poke popularized in prisons throughout Europe centuries ago. This is tattooing at its most fundamental, a simple way to use a pointy object and some ink to mark oneself, identify one’s gang affiliation, or pass time in the stir. What makes this form of tattooing different is the lo-fi feel of the results, which owe their uniqueness to their flaws. This is very much the intention behind the Personal Tattoo Machine, a next-level DIY kit for self-doodlers that looks to move the tattoo trend in a more personal direction.

Developed by Royal College of Art student Jakub Pollág for his graduate show, the system is designed to provide the stick and poke experience without the pain or the time commitment (using a needle takes forever). Though the idea of democratizing the tattoo industry, which is now full of very well paid artists replicating their most popular pinterest pics, is attractive, one gets the sense that the results of PTMing might not be. And that’s okay. The idea here is to embrace serendipity — to make tattoos less of a style statement and more of a personal reminder.

The PTM isn’t on the market yet, but it assuredly will be. Will it be more expensive than the vegan stick and poke kits already available? Most likely. Will your graphic designer friend spring for it anyway? Yes. Don’t get drunk in his house.

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