So you want a shitty amateur tattoo, obtained without the hassle or expense that can accompany experienced professionals and sterile environments, but you’re not SO obtuse as not to fear the Hep C, tetanus and necrotizing fasciitis you can get from using a safety pin and ink harvested from a ballpoint pen? Stick and Poke is here, claiming to render safe your brave and likely idiotic choice with their home tattoo kits, containing sealed needles, basic sterility supplies, and vegan ink, which is important for some reason.
WHAT I AM NOT GOING TO DO HERE: There will be no tattoo shaming. I’m inked, so I’ve obviously got nothing against the practice. There will be no hipster straw-manning, as I’m arguably in a glass house on that count, too. There will be no ripping on vegans, even sanctimonious ones. There are far worse things in this world than a food scold. All I’m saying is the trendlet for tiny little homemade blackline tattoos all over one’s self has already saturated to the point where Miley Cyrus forfuxsakes has a bunch of them on her hands. Is that who you want to be like? Miley Cyrus? If there’s any doubt that this is aimed squarely at over precious, faddish tweepeople, check out the flash they offer, which look like the study hall doodles of an inapt 7th grader.
Understanding that people have been doing this on their own forever and will continue to do so, it’s surely better that it be done with a modicum of safety in mind, so I sought the opinion of a qualified, long-standing professional in the field to pick his brain about these kits. Ladies and gentlemen, meet The Human Furnace, singer for hardcore/metal lifers and Relapse Records artists Ringworm, and co-proprietor since 1997 of 252 Tattoo, now with two locations to better serve Northeast Ohio. I asked him for his take on the safety of these kits, and while I expected he wouldn’t be fully on board with them, I didn’t quite expect him to projectile-vomit a nest of hornets:
Wow. This is pretty hilarious. I particularly like the page of the manual that warns “Consult your physician before getting a tattoo. Consult a professional tattoo artist before getting a tattoo.” Huh? What’s this kit FOR, then? Isn’t the entire “WARNINGS” section one giant oxymoron? And the “professional vegan ink” has such a nice ring to it. This pretty much takes the whole “kit tattooing” thing to a more ignorant level, as a tattoo machine is too technical for some, and let’s face it, sometimes the spare room in your mother-in-law’s trailer doesn’t have any outlets. Just stick ‘em with a needle!
Basically, someone just packaged up about $3.50 worth of crap in a box and is marketing to the extra large percentage of idiots around the world. On some levels, I enjoy things like this because its soooooooo enjoyable to make fun of the results when people fly the huge “Hey look! I’m an IDIOT and I don’t even know it” flag, so I appreciate them saving me some time in getting to know them. I’m a busy man. And, I must admit that there was a time (a loooong time ago) that I was hand-poking The Germs (O’s) tattoos on my buddies shoulders on front porches in the summer time while drinking crazy horse malt liquor and listening to the Exploited, but things where different then. I dunno. Perhaps I’m wrong. Tattooing and the whole tattoo industry was completely different 25-26 yrs ago. It wasn’t hip. The prom queen, star quarterback and student council president didn’t have full sleeves of Sailor Jerry tattoos or Mumford and Sons song lyrics written across their ribs. And, as much as this type of stuff amuses me, it really just takes another bite out of the professional tattoo industry. Young Idiots like myself and many many others worked really fucking hard to get tattooing to a legit level. It’s disheartening sometimes to realize that crap like this is just a by-product caused by the mainstreaming of tattooing.
Should this type of thing be illegal? There’s a strong case for it. Professionals have to be certified (and these days, certifiable), have blood-borne pathogen classes, follow codes, follow professional standards, ethics (well, maybe not ethics, but that’s a whole other story) etc. Will this type of thing ever BE illegal? Fuck no. You’ll never be able to stop this type of stuff. As long as there is an angle to make some cash and exploit some popular trend, somebody’s going to do it. So, Get in on it while ya can folks! Make extra CA$H from Home! Why pay outrageous professional prices? Fuck your best friend up! Fuck your brother up! Fuck your sister! Oops, I mean, fuck your sister up and even fuck yourself up with the Stick and Poke Tattoo Kit from Ronco! Fun for All Ages!.....ughhhhh. Someone come get me when this is all over. I have some tattooing to do. On the bright side, our hospitals are going to be getting a nice influx of staph and sepsis cases to keep them busy. We’ve got healthcare now right?
So there you go, straight from a pro. A smartass, rant-prone pro, but among his many points, he’s got a damn good one about the expense. The kit goes for $40—a “bargainous” $70 if you get the nauseatingly precious “partners” set—but fifty tattooing needles in sterile packaging retail for about $6, ink for about $3, and much of the industrialized world already has gauze, rubbing alcohol and bandages socked away in the bathroom cupboard. This is an expensive box of bullshit, made of unbleached brown paper so its dainty consumer can feel planet savingly eco-friendly about the completely wasted packaging. But I guess it doesn’t matter how that handlebar mustache gets on the side of your index finger, just as long as it gets there.
I would totally let Beth Piwkowski use one of these kits to tattoo Foot Foot on my neck in gratitude for this find.