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Whether it’s an ‘ITS COMING HOME’ tattoo plastered on your forearm or a photorealistic tattoo of your ex’s face spread across your chest, we’ve all made mistakes. Nothing can compare to that stomach-drop sensation: the sobering realisation of what you’ve done to your skin, scrabbling for the number of your local tattoo removal clinic. What if, instead of lasering the ink off, you just cover the piece with even more ink?
A blackout tattoo essentially speaks for itself: a form of tattooing which typically covers a section of the body—often the arms or legs—in solid, opaque black ink. The design is deliberately bold, leaving a large chunk of the body in nothing but black ink. Think of it as using the fill paint bucket on MS paint, but instead of filling in a square, you’re filling in a section of your body.
Okay, so you’ve come to terms with the reality a blackout tattoo will have on both your pain receptors and your wallet—but what about the social and cultural implications? While the idea of a blackwork tattoo being offensive is very much up for debate, many believe the practice is a form of cultural appropriation.
The history of handmade tattoos is extensive and dates back over 5,000 years. Contrary to typical tattoos, stick and pokes don’t require any electrical tools and little experience of traditional tattooing. Theoretically, this makes them an affordable, accessible activity to do from the comfort of your own home. This is likely the reason why stick and poke tattooing saw a boom during the COVID-19 pandemic—when tattoo parlours are shut, people look for alternative ways to make art on their skin.