Jenna Bouma has honed the art of hand poking tattooing through much practice, some of it on her friends’ skin. After first working on the down-low, from a private loft space in her friends’ apartment, she went on to open her shop in 2012.
Now, with more than 100k followers on Instagram people are standing in line to get tattoed by the master of hand-poking, known online as “Slower Black”.
“When clients come in, I already have a good idea of what they want, because at that point we’ll have already emailed or talked about it over the phone,” she says. “Then I draw up the design and get the A-OK from the client before making a stencil. Once the stencil is made, I put it onto the person’s skin, and we decide on a placement that they like. Then we make it happen. The setup is clean and sterile, and everything is the same setup as it is with a machine, except for the tools I’m using.”
A palm-sized tattoo takes between 1-2 hours, a hand-sized one takes 3 hours but back pieces can take up until 40 hours. Judging by the finished result, the struggle is well worth it: