Once the domain of amateurs, gutter punks, and, um, prisoners, stick and poke tattoos—created using nothing but a handheld needle and ink—are now a swoon-worthy art form, and ladies are leading the DIY way. 

Stick and poker Talia Migliaccio, 20, says the biggest misconception about this style is that hand-poke artists create “shitty, small tattoos.” When in reality, she and other female artists like Tati Compton, McKenzie Porritt aka MKNZ, and Sarah March are inking gorgeous, intricate designs. Migliaccio gained a cult following through her dreamy Instagram page, showcasing her delicate, black-inked patterns, hands, arrows, and “cat-like deities.” 


And though Compton may have gotten her start using just “sewing needles, India ink, and a lot of beer,” now the 27-year-old’s tattoos are unique, fine-line drawings—from cosmic-inspired, mandala-like patterns to female figures and ancient symbolism. Compton currently works at London’s Sang Bleu Tattoo Studio, but still eschews using a typical tattoo gun or electricity. “It can take longer, but it has a different effect, a more hands-on approach,” she says. 

Migliaccio agrees. “So much of what I love about hand-poked tattooing is the experience it provides,” she says. “It’s very meditative and quiet, not only for myself, but for the individual receiving the tattoo.” 

Tati Compton




Talia Migliaccio 

New Fall Issue d217c


Sarah March


By Emily Savage

Photo of MKNZ tattooing (Valentine’s, Seattle): Jazzlyn Stone; All other photos are courtesy of the artists; Top photograph: Tati Compton

This originally appeared in the December/January print edition of BUST Magazine. Subscribe today

More from BUST

'Hey Arnold!' Is All Grown Up And Hot - With Tattoos, A Beard And A Man Bun

How These Acid Attack Survivors Are Using Makeup To Demand Change

Is Cross Stitch The Next Tattoo Trend?

Support Feminist Media!
During these troubling political times, independent feminist media is more vital than ever. If our bold, uncensored reporting on women’s issues is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $25, $50, or whatever you can afford, to protect and sustain BUST.com.
Thanks so much—we can’t spell BUST without U.