I decided back in 2019 that I wanted to learn how to give stick and pokes because:

  1. They’re awesome
  2. They’re kinda janky
  3. You gotta seize the means of production

I got the requisite equipment after reading some websites:

I started by practicing on some lemons, which I had read online were good practice materials. Here’re my earliest attempts:

For a while, no one was brave enough to be my first victim (understandable). I kept hawking my lemons though, until my friend Brenna volunteered to be the first! We were on a climbing trip together, and we decided on the last day, while climbing in Alabama Hills, to eat pie and make some stick and pokes. Brenna opted for a lemon!

You’ll notice our outdoor studio conditions amongst the rocks of Alabama Hills. Probably not the most ideal conditions, but hey, we aren’t professionals. My wonderful friend Lilly, bolstered by Brenna’s braveness, got one next. Lilly got a cute lil cactus because she’s the queen of plants.

Marty was third up, and he got a carrot. It’s from a book he loved as a child called “The Boy and the Carrot”. It’s a tale of perseverance and growth, and he thinks of it often. He also likes hiding his carrot tat behind a sock and digging it out to reveal it :).

Never one to submit others to something I wouldn’t do myself, I then asked Brenna if she could poke me up. I had tried to give one to myself, but it was too weird trying to intentionally poke oneself. I got a little Joshua tree – it’s a mystical, magical place where Marty and I had our first date, and many great memories after. Later, I gave my friend Molly a matching Joshua tree. Molly and I met for the first time at a remote crag in Joshua tree, and had many a good time climbing and frolicking amongst the otherworldly rocks.

My very own stick and poke!

You may be wondering, Julie, what’s with all the ankle placements? Well, you kind of have to match the size of the tattoo with the size of the body part it goes on. I wasn’t really willing to try and do really large stick and pokes, and I made sure to warn every recipient that they definitely would not look perfect. So the ankle, an easily hideable and relatively small part of the body, made a lot of sense.

That being said, we had another stick and poke party, and my coworker Gus got a string on his knee (it made sense to him, a physicist), which turned out pretty sweet. Brenna’s partner Ted got three Knuth’s up arrows, a form of notation for very large integers. Brenna, Marty, and I each gave Ted an arrows. He held onto Sir Franklin for emotional support.

There was a brief pause in stick and poke activity as I went to graduate school and studied a lot, but eventually I got back in the biz. My grad school friend Conner got an awesome female glyph, and neighbor friend Jacob got a little sun behind a mountain. You can tell my technique is getting better at this point – the lines are crisper and I finally figured out the right depth that causes minimal pain but still gets a nice solid line.

The latest stick and pokes have been for our friends Nate and Aurora. They each came up with and drafted their own designs, and it was the first tattoo for both of them! Aurora got a beautiful lavender sprig, and Nate got a Columbine flower (he’s a Colorado boy). Interestingly, Aurora’s healed almost instantaneously, while Nate had redness for about a week. Fortunately, none of my stick and poke recipients have ever gotten an infection or anything weird – I make sure to use a new sterilized needle every time, wear gloves, and clean all surfaces meticulously.

Looking fresh 2 death!

I’ve been poking for about 4 years now, and for our wedding in July 2023, I decided I wanted to give EVERYONE tattoos – but maybe temporary to get a slightly larger audience. I created a sheet of flashes, and people had a blast applying and customizing their “stick and pokes”.

Which would you pick?
Going bold with the placements
Marty’s butt was a popular one
A perfect custom creation
Why choose one when you can have them all?!

That’s it for now! You want to be next? 🙂

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