Q&A with Wilson stick and poke artists


Hannah Frank and Hannah Masling

Ava Mackaye (12), Sophie Magerl (11), and Jordyn Edwards (12) have all given stick and poke tattoos—a method of tattooing that utilizes a single needle and ink. Each student sat down with The Beacon to discuss all things stick and poke, including their favorite designs, tattoo-giving mindsets, and introductions to the hobby.


Q: How did you get in to giving stick and pokes?

Mackaye: I had a friend who did them at camp, which was a little unsanitary because no one washes their hands. And then she gave herself one in my cabin, and I was like, ‘oh, that looks fun.’ And then I started.

Magerl: My friends wanted them and said they would buy real tattoo ink and needles so that I could give them some. I think they picked me because I love art, so [they] figured I would be the best person to do it.

Edwards: I was bored, I ordered needles off of a materials distribution website, got some ink, and just did a few on myself.


Q: Tell me about the first stick and poke you ever gave.

Mackaye:  I did ‘LNT’ on my fingers, which means Leave No Trace, because nature. And I did it with my friend who did the stick and pokes first, and she told me how to do it.

Magerl: It was on one of my best friends’ back: a butterfly. I traced it out first, cleaned the area with rubbing alcohol, and started. I hated the feeling of the needle going through the skin, so I went really lightly.

Edwards: [It was] just two weird, random shapes on my hip. It was weird because it didn’t hurt, but I kinda liked it. I liked the way it felt, and I was listening to super loud music and I was super anxious. 


Q: What goes through your mind when you’re giving a stick and poke?

Mackaye: I don’t want to hurt [anyone] because it can be really painful depending on where you get it. But it is also very exciting, because you know that when someone wants a tattoo it’s something that they actually really care about. 

Magerl:  ‘I hate this,’ ‘my back hurts,’ ‘I really hope this doesn’t get infected,’ ‘I hope I’m not hurting her,’ ‘where’s the rubbing alcohol?’

Edwards: [During] the first one I gave to myself I was like, ‘oh my gosh this is gonna be on me for the rest of my life.’ I listen to hardcore music while I’m doing them so that I don’t overthink anything. [Now] I’m pretty calm actually. 


Q: What is your favorite stick and poke you’ve ever given?

Mackaye: It’s a cross, but it’s also an upside down cross depending on which way you’re sitting… which I really like, because then people get either this impression or the other impression. 

Magerl: It was a link that [someone’s] mom taught her to draw and I love it. I love the positioning and I went over it a bunch of times, so it really looks like a coherent dark line.

Edwards: It’s on my forearm, and it’s actually a two part tattoo. I’d gone to Copenhagen over the summer and everyone had tattoos, so I drew inspiration from that. •