The handpoked, or the stick-and-poke tattoo has enjoyed a great resurgence in recent years. Although the circuit breaker did not drive Singaporeans to hold handpoke tattoo parties, as the quarantine did in the United States, more and more Singaporeans have gotten or are gearing up for their very own handpoked experience.
Here, as part of a Spotted! Tries experience, William, 22, will be getting his very first tattoo with artist Christopher Sim. Our producer and videographer followed him into Christopher’s studio to document his experience.
The artwork William chose was of small to medium size, approximately 9 by 6 cm, depicting a Valknut. A Nordic symbol made of interlocking triangles, William says he chose this design because of his three family members. The strong lines that intersect and interlock with each other, especially in the center, represents the vital role they play in his life.
Christopher Sim, who goes by @chrispy_sim on Instagram, first got into tattooing when his master handed him the tattoo gun in the middle of a session with a client. Unbeknownst to the client, some of the lines laid down on that day would be Christopher’s very first!
Specialising in geometric designs and linework, Christopher is a fresh-faced 31 years old and has been a professional tattoo artist since he was 20.
Naturally, William was nervous about getting his first tattoo, especially since he wanted it on his ribs. Luckily for him, Christopher only rates it as a 6.5/10 on the pain threshold, describing the sternum and the throat as the worst places for people with low pain thresholds to get tattoos.
On this topic, there is a debate on whether handpoked tattoos or machine-done tattoos hurt more. According to my informal research, it’s sort of a toss up – the pain factor depends on factors like the size, complexity and placement of the tattoo. The good news, at least, for those considering their first handpoked piece is that they heal faster than machine-done tattoos.
Since there is only ever one needle working on your skin at any given time, there is less trauma which results in less scarring and irritation.
It’s the same reason why handpoked tattoos take a lot more time to create. Imagine having to construct a picture using only dots – heck, imagine using only dots to make a simple line. Now, do you understand why it takes so much longer to do a handpoked tattoo?
How did William feel as he was being tattooed? It seemed that that the pain got more tolerable as the session progressed. He went from saying the pain made his butthole clench, to describing it as similar to receiving an injection but better, to saying he simply got used to it.
Curious about the experience? Want to learn more about Christopher? Watch out for our video on our Facebook page where we conduct a short interview with Christopher and document him giving William his first tattoo!