Hand Poking by Ferank

As I promised, a few more pictures from the work of hand tattooist (ie. hand poked, not machine) Ferank Manseed. That first photo also gives me the opportunity to mention another blog you may want to read, palmproject.tumblr.com (in addition of course to BME’s own massive hand tattoo galleries). As I said earlier, you can reach Ferank most easily at [email protected] to set up an appointment with this UK-based artist.




That last piece makes me think a lot of the Dali painting with a similar 3D cross. I should mention that the cross wasn’t done by Ferank — he just pushed it up a level into something much more special by adding the circle of sacred geometry.

11 Hours of Hand-Poked Scalp

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 protected] or visit him on Facebook.

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Screaming Hand Palm Tattoo

I don’t want to overpost the work of Ferank Manseed, which I just covered yesterday, palm tattoos no less, but I just had to include this screaming hand tattoo because it’s got to be about the most perfect idea for a palm tattoo ever. For those that don’t recognize it, the “Screaming Hand” logo was designed in 1973 by Jim Phillips for the Santa Cruz Skateboards team, and is widely used as a symbol of skateboarding in general. I’ve seen the logo tattooed quite a few times, but this is even better — actually becoming the logo. Now to tattoo his hand all blue…


Palm Tattoo Healing

Both Rob and I have regularly covered the work of British tattoo artist Ferank Manseed ([email protected]) here on BME, enjoying his hand-poked machine-free tattooing. Today he touched up one of the geometric palm tattoos that we featured in the past that had less than perfect healing — even with the best technique, palm tattoos can be unpredictable. I’ve seen some people’s last perfectly on the first try, and other people’s skin never seems to be able to accept the ink. This is due to the fact that the palm has especially think and calloused temporary skin — the artist needs to punch through this layer to make it last and place the ink in the stable layer, without going so deep that the ink spreads, or is absorbed and removed by the body. Since going too deep can leave a permanent blown out tattoo, and not going deep enough just falls out, many artists choose to err on the side to too light. Next to the bottom of the foot, the inner surface of the hand — palm and fingers — is the most difficult anatomy to produce a good tattoo on. Anyway, Ferank shared with us photos of this palm tattoo. From left to right (and you can zoom in to this), these photos show the tattoo fresh, then how it healed after this first session, and finally mid-session on the touch-up.

EDIT/UPDATE: I should add two notes to this entry. First of all, the middle picture was taken eight weeks after the first one. Second, and this is perhaps most important, the client was a fellow tattoo artist, and thus has to both wear tight gloves and work with their hands every day, which greatly complicates healing.


Hand on the Cross

If this looks familiar to you, it’s because Shannon first posted about this hand poked circle of life tattoo a few weeks back.  Back then it was just the outline, but since then handpoked master (that sounds dirty) Ferank has finished up the sacred geometry, and the result is breathtaking.  Oh, it should be noted that the cross was tattooed by someone else.

Handing our children the magic

At the start of the summer, while accompanying me to my tattoo appointment, my nine year old daughter tattooed a funny face — the king of the pineapple people perhaps — on my foot with lots of assistance from the artist of course. Some people criticize it, but most (especially other parents) just love it and understand what a warm memory and special moment it makes permanent. I’ve been seeing quite a few similar moments in other people’s lives and it always makes me smile.

This particular image is Patrick Kielty’s daughter tattooing an image hilariously typical of what kids that age seem to draw of their dads — a bird plopping on his head!


I also wanted to include in this post a picture of Ferank Manseed being tattooed by his son. It stands out because Ferank does hand tattooing, so you won’t see a machine in this scene — as Alicia Cardenas commented, “handing our children the magic is our cultural responsibility…”


While some people might question the parent who exposes their child to body modification at a young age, the fact is that with the level of media saturation the subject has, we need to choose between being the ones to educate our children on this subject so dear to our hearts, or allowing the ignorant media empires to do it for us.

Sacred tattooing with gold leaf

Ferank (facebook.com/ferank.manseed), a handpoke tattooist who I’ve written about here before, points out that humanity has always had a close relationship with metal, not just as an object of wealth that never tarnishes or oxidizes, but also as a magical metal with healing properties — Ferank recalls his grandmother being given gold injections for her arthritis. Longterm readers may recall back in 2006 when I wrote about Islamic gold implants, and there are also Eastern monks who perform gold implants for a variety of spiritual reasons. Up until the early 1900s, Western doctors would sometimes implant a small piece of metal near an inflamed joint, and even today gold nanoparticles are being injected to fight prostate cancer!

Whether you believe this is placebo medicine, spiritual medicine, or hard science, it is undeniable that gold has an intimate and profound relationship with the human experience that few materials have, so he set out to tattoo himself with gold. This wasn’t easy because gold leaf is far thinner than paper and disintegrates easily — if he had tried to suspend it in a liquid solution like a traditional pigment solution, it would practically disappear, so he picked it up the gold leaf with a needle grouping and pushed it into the skin, which seemed to work.

He admits it sounds a little crazy, but he honestly feels that his consciousness has been altered through this ritual act. The first photo is fresh, and the second photo was taken about a week after the procedure, at which point you could still see a bit of sparkle. The last photo is well over a year old. Ferank plans on experimenting more with tattooing in gold.

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Joanna’s Thumbs

Joanna from The Antahkarana had her thumbs tattooed at the Tribal Evolution 2012 Summer Solstice Gathering, with her left thumb being done by Audrie Cabena and the right by Ferank Manseed. Simple, beautiful work — sometimes a line is all it takes.