Ferank Manseed, who has now been doing hand-poked tattoos for a decade (“I don’t play with that modern machine nonsense!”) just finished the second session on this amazing swastika/asanoha scalp piece, which now has eleven hours of hand poking in it. I like the 3D effect that makes it look like the design is cut right into the head, kind of a dotwork trompe l’oeil. As you may have guessed Ferank is pure hand-poked all the way, only having used a machine a few times (and that was a long time ago). He says, “the freedom of working by hand has allowed me to tattoo and travel and connect with other handwork tattooists, who are still rare — I like this…”
Like most hand tattooists, Ferank is largely self-taught, doing much of his learning by tattooing his own skin. I asked him what he uses for tools and while he points out that he “can make a tattoo with anything sharp” he usually uses pre-made needles (the same sort that would be put in a machine) strapped to a chopstick. When the tattoo is completed, he removes the needles from the bamboo chopstick, marks the date on it, blesses it with a swastika and an aum and gives it to the client as a souvenir of the experience.
Ferank is based at Northside Private Rooms (one of the rare studios that contains a dedicated hand area) in Newcastle Upone Tyne in England, and you can email him at email@example.com or visit him on Facebook.
Long ago I posted an interview with machine-free (hand-poked) tattoo artist and pioneer Boff Konkerz (read it here), but at that point he was better known for smaller pieces. Boff told me back then that he figured hand-poked tattoos took about three times as long as “normal” tattoos in general, so as you can imagine doing a full backpiece is quite a commitment. Boff is based at King of Hearts in London, but travels extensively across the UK and Europe — follow his plans or get in touch via fb/RoadmapsForTheSoul.
Upcoming tour dates include:
- Shining Tattoo, Nenzing, Austria… March 21st-26th
- Íslenzka Húðflúrstofan, Reykjavik, Iceland… April 18th-23rd
- Funhouse Tattoo, Metz, France… 2nd-7th May
- Fo Tat Fest, Torshavn, Faroe Islands… 17th-19th May
- Lucky 7, Oslo, Norway… 27th June-2nd July
Here are a few backpieces, epics of machine-free tattooing, that Boff has done. The first one by the way you may recognize elements of — it is based on Last Embrace by Laurie Lipton (although the motif of embracing skeletons is not an unusual one).
Grace Neutral, a tattoo artist who specializes in handpoked work and is based in South London (although she travels regularly so don’t let that limit you — find her on Facebook or Tumblr) just did this incredible set of breast/nipple tattoos on Rebecka. Painwise, she tells me that the nipples hurt like crazy, but that it’s likely that doing them handpoked rather than grinding the ink in with a machine probably reduced the pain significantly. Click either picture for a bigger version.
The following photo was submitted anonymously and didn’t include any details. I thought it was an interesting dotwork design. The popularity of dotwork seems to have really grown in the last year or so (or at least that’s been my observation while moderating photos on BME). It’s definitely something that requires a skilled hand.
This piece reminds me a lot of my Spirograph that I had as a kid. I loved that thing!
In BME news, while we continue to work on improvements for the site, we have added a cool new feature. Now, you can add photos and videos to your “favorites” list. This list is private so it’s not about a popularity contest but rather a way for you to quickly and easily view photos and videos that you really like. Beside each photo and video you’ll see a red heart with “add to favorites” next to it. Just click that to add the photo or video to your list. To view your list, go to your account details and under “My Content” you’ll find the subheading “Favorite Media”. Just click on that to view your favorites! You’ll need a BME account but remember, it’s absolutely free to create an account. Read the BME FAQ if you would like more information on the site and using BME.
See more Dotwork Tattoos.