Anna Sundvall sticks and pokes

Stick and poke is a tattoo trend that exploded all over the internet some years ago. We were curious about what stick and poke really is, so we met up with illustrator and poke-tattooer Anna Sundvall in her studio in Liljeholmen to learn about it and get a tattoo (!).

Anna in her studio

How did you learn to tattoo?
– I got my first tattoo when I was 17 and have always been quite interested. After a while I got to know people who tattooed and became more and more eager to learn myself. Then came this big poke wave, which made it easier for anyone to tattoo. It was a bit slower and more controlled, and not as scary as pushing a needle into a machine and press it into a human. I figured that since I’m an illustrator and can draw, it couldn’t be so hard. So I got to try on some different friends and so, and discovered that it was not very difficult.

How did you know how to do it the first time? How deep you should push the needle and so on?
– I didn’t. That’s whats so great with friends that are open and willing!

When did you tattoo for the first time?
– Maybe 2.5 years ago, so I haven’t been doing this so long at all.

Were you sober?
– Yes, I was. I tattooed my cousin, she wanted a snake and I thought that was kind of the best object to start with. It is not at all complicated. I did OK, but now it looks more like a worm. But I got to tattoo her again after that. No hard feelings!

Anna preparing the tattoo she is gonna do on Beata

Why is it called Stick and Poke?
– I really don’t know. One uses a standard tattoo needle and ink. Then you just stick and poke, I guess. It just describes the technique!

Why do you think it has become so popular?
– Maybe because it is so easily accessible and easy for anyone to do. Actually, all you need is a needle and ink. People are creative, and stick and poke lets them express that.

Have you ever used a standard machine?
– Yes, one time. It was super hard! Much more difficult to control and to know how deep the needle goes. I actually got to try it on my friends, but that was long ago. However, I am a little eager now to learn it and get a machine, if I want to do bigger things. To poke takes such a damn long time.

How many have you tattooed since you began?
– Maybe not 100 people, but maybe 100 tattoos!

Beata’s first poke tattoo

How do people find you?
– From the beginning it was friends of friends, but now many people have found me through Instagram. Someone’s been here, tagged me in a picture and then others have found me. It’s funny that people contact me that I have no connection to. It’s starting to happen more and more in recent months.

Some of the 100 tattoos Anna has done

Check out Annas webpage and instagram for more of her work!