Poisoned Needles

September 21, 2020

       High school students are one of the biggest markets in the tattoo industry. The staple of receiving a first tattoo can be seen as a child branching off into adulthood. As amazing as tattoos may be, the problem of teenagers not willing to wait for quality art is widespread in the ideals of a stick and poke, a quick process of poking a design into an arm or leg using a kit that can be bought on the internet for cheap. 

       John Hintz from Warrior Tattoo spoke in an interview stating,

“everything we purchase is pre-sterilized, then our needles go through the autoclave (a cleaning machine) and are pre-sterilized. stick and pokes aren’t. So you don’t know where that was made, who handled it, where it was used and now you’re pushing that stuff in your body.”

       The product itself can cause major problems as the items are never sterilized, meaning bacteria can grow on the needle. Contrary to popular belief, using any form of alcohol or fire will never make the kit as safe as it needs to be. The kits often come with cheap ink that doesn’t hold onto skin tissue, meaning the pigment can bleed into other pores and lose its original color over time, making any pigment other than black near impossible to use. 

       Inexperience when dealing with skin is also a huge risk, as poking too shallow or too deep can cause swelling. Swollen wounds left untreated can manifest into cellulitis and MRSA, wounds filled with pus that can leave a nasty scar.

       When asking tattoo artist Halle Haas at Warrior Tattoo Studios the biggest difference between a stick and poke vs. a machined tattoo., she said,

“We work with a machine you can pull a clean line with, one solid movement as to stick and poke. Which is multiple movements, done by hand and usually is not done by someone professionally trained so then they tend not to turn out as clean”

       While stick and pokes can be seen as temporary, the ink can stay for many years to come. What a fourteen-year-old finds as classy, a twenty-two year old could find to be unprofessional and immature. The tattoo industry banks on the poor decisions of teenagers, who turn into young adults and feel the need to cover a past mistake. Most tattoos cover-ups are from stick and pokes, whether it be the poor design of a Sixteen-year-old or the need to hide an infection turned scar. 

       Cover-ups often need to be filled with heavy shading and harsh outlines to hide the previous design, the idea of colorful cover-ups are more than idealistic as the older ink will show through a colorful cover. Meaning if someone needs a replacement, choices can be limited and quite restrained in color schemes and design.

       Deciding to get a tattoo is no easy feat, as the placement and design will be there forever. As stressful as it seems, a large community is there to help find a design tailored to each client’s needs. Along with seeing a professional artist the chance of infection goes down significantly, eliminating the fear of scaring over the tattoo sight. With an endless number of designs and placements to choose from, planning and getting a tattoo with an artist is a fairly simple process. 

       Body modification can be a scary, intimidating and painful process. To help counter this, research the artist and the shop they are working in. A tattoo shop’s vibe is fairly important when choosing where to get tattoos. From the decor and music to the way artists act while working, being comfortable in the environment is a must. Warrior Tattoo is a prime example of how the feel of a tattoo shop can overline with targeted ages and progressive people. A veteran-owned business filled with LGBTQ+ staff makes this team diverse and inclusive. With all colors, religions and sexualities, Warrior Tattoo showcases how as younger generations grow they begin to break the stereotype. Decorated in Star Wars, Deadpool merch and a handful of baby Yoda’s, this tattoo shop offers an experience unlike many. 

John Hintz continues, telling,

 “We have lots of fun things in the tattoo shop, we have artists that are fun. They talk, they sing. The whole environment is open, there is not like six rooms and you get carted off into a little room with a person you hardly know.”

Overall, the experience of a first tattoo is something that can not be taken back. Skip the sketchy stick and poke needles and unnecessary risks for something beautiful and crafted with care. With the world’s view shifting in how society sees tattoos, now is a perfect time to make your mark, literally. Remember to be safe and smart with what gets inked and in choosing an artist who will produce something worth cherishing.


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