As mentioned in our previous blog post on the subject, prison tattooing is an illegal practise.
So what does this mean for inmates in prison who practise tattooing? How do they get access to the tools needed to perform the tattooing?
In this post we will be exploring some of these crude methods and tricks used in prison to carry out this ongoing and popular practise.
The Stick & Poke Method
The most popular and accessible method for tattooing in prison is the stick and poke method. As the name would suggest, it involves a pointed object (the stick) repeatedly being used to pierce the skin to inject the ink (the poke).
Whereas a professional tattoo machine has the capabilities to draw straight lines, such a design would not be possible with the stick and poke method, as only dot work styled lines and designs can be created using such a primitive method.
Although a prison used method, many people like the aesthetics created through the stick and poke method, with some artists carrying out this practise in their professional studios. The downside to this method however, is the tattoo fading much quicker than when a dedicated professional machine is used (as the tattoos fade quickly due to the restrictive impact on the skin that piercing by hand can achieve).
As contraband items are difficult to obtain in prison, needles which would be used to tattoo professional are rarely used.
Instead, items which can be sharpened are used for the stick and poke method.
These items can include (although are not limited to):
As is the same with the tools, the ink used for prison tattoos is often improvised.
There a various methods used to create a usable consistency with the ink, although many of the resulting substances are toxic, therefore are likely to cause infection or illness.
Things that are used to create ink for prison tattoos include:
If you have ever been into a tattoo studio, you will know how rigorous the process is for keeping the equipment and working environment clean to remove the chance of infection occurring.
This process involves sterilising the needles, using anti-bacterial sprays and cleaning products on all surfaces, and gloves being worn by the artist when working on a customer.
These practises are not available in prison, so infected tattoos are commonplace, and long term scarring or damage done to the skin through improper methods mean that these tattoos are often of low quality and take a lot longer to heal.
On top of the risk of infection/scarring, the makeshift inks used can actually be toxic to the person, furthering health risks and problems that may arise after the process.
What do you think of these methods?