5 Core Differences Between Machine & Hand Poked Tattoos

If one thing about the tattoo industry is booming, then it’s the rise of hand poked tattoo artists. Hand poking, or stick poke tattoos as some might call them, are a new form of tattooing that’s made with love, by hand. While some people vow to the traditional method of tattooing, others are convinced that hand poked is better.


Let’s find out the five core differences between machine and hand poked tattoos!

5 Core Differences Between Machine & Hand Poked Tattoos

1. The Pain
A very important difference between machine and hand poked tattoos is the pain factor. Machine tattoos are wired to insert the needle in and out at a rhythmic rate, inserting the ink quickly and efficiently. The rapidity of the needle does however make our bodies tense up in reaction. Some equivalent a tattoo machine like a searing needle in your skin, which doesn’t sound too pleasant.

Unlike aggressive machine tattoos, hand poked tattoos are generally gentler on the skin and body, especially if your artist is well-trained and experienced. The associated pain that comes with tattooing takes on a whole new meaning with hand poked tattoos. The style is gentle and slow, whereas machine tattoos are harsh and fast.

2. The Style
Machine and hand poked tattoos give off two very different styles. Machine tattoos can cover lots of skin fast, giving it an evened out, smooth look, whereas hand poked takes time and patience, giving the style a hand-worked, etchy look.

Hand poked is enormously beneficial for artists or clients wanting intricate or tiny details (think tiny tattoos). If you want a small tattoo or one that has very specific lining or dots, then hand poked tattoos might just win over machine tattoos.


3. The Ink
Some people might theorize that hand poked tattoos are less durable than machine tattoos. But this is false. A hand poked tattoo inserts its ink just as deep as a machine tattoo gun. The only real difference is it’s speed and accuracy.

5 Core Differences Between Machine & Hand Poked Tattoos

Although a hand-poked tattoo is great for a minimalist tattoo in either black and white or a small colored tattoo, they are not ideal for water-colored tattoos. Water-coloring, covering large parts of the body and color gradients etc. are best when completed with a tattoo machine.

4. The Price
There is no real price difference between machine tattoos and hand poked tattoos. After all, the price largely depends on the style of the tattoo you want, the location, the artist, and so on. You might want to tip your hand poked tattoo artist more, per say, since a hand poked tattoo takes much more time to complete!

5. The Atmosphere
If it’s the vibrating machine noise that stresses you out more than the needle itself, a hand poked tattoo might be the solution for you. The atmosphere and general experience of getting a tattoo will change drastically depending on whether it’s a machine tattoo or a hand poked tattoo.

Hand poked tattoos are much quieter, making getting a tattoo almost a calm, relaxing experience rather than a buzzy, noisy one. While some hand poked artists might set up shop in a regular tattoo shop (where buzzing will still go on), others have private studios where you can go enjoy the peace and quiet while you get inked.


These are the five core differences between machine and hand poked tattoos that you should know about before deciding how you want to get tattooed. Out of all the differences, the style and the pain factor play the most important roles, so make sure to consider which style you prefer and how much pain your willing to tolerate to get inked!