LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - An East Texas tattoo shop is going back to the basics with their old school take on the age old practice.
The tattoo artists at Black Spot Tattoo Company solely use the hand-poke technique that they say is more natural than tattoos made by machines.
"It's a new thing in the world, but it's a really old thing," said owner, Ben Harbuck.
Hand-poke is a hundreds of years old tribal practice and it's now right here in Lufkin's backyard.
"I was really pulled by that tribal idea, that old idea, to bring the old ways back," Harbuck said.
Back in 2013, Harbuck chose to quit machine tattooing and try his hand at hand-poke.
"The art grew from copying, to what feels right for us," Harbuck said. "And, I think we've all kind of gone back to tribal work from all over the world."
The shops four artists each spend a little over an hour on an average, medium-sized tattoo, but say that the attention to detail helps out in the long run.
"There's never really an 'oops' moment," said tattoo artist, Katie Meadows. "You know, like you don't just shift your arm and all of a sudden there's a line that shouldn't be there."
It also opens up the art of tattooing to a wider variety of people.
"Because we don't come from art backgrounds, stippling is an easier way to approach something that you might not feel quite so confident in," Harbuck said.
For the customer, the benefits are simple.
"With a hand poke tattoo, it heals quickly," said tattoo artist, Sarah Harbuck. "It's not as painful when you're getting it."
It's why repeat customer, Chelsea Lovell, said she keeps coming back.
"I have both and I like hand poked better," Lovell said. "Just the healing process is better. The experience is better. It's not as painful."
And, for Harbuck, the future looks bright.
"I do think hand-poking is going to catch on a lot more," Harbuck said. "I think it will take a while just because it's such a different experience."
According to Texas licensing laws, artists who tattoo only using the hand-poke technique don't have to be officially licensed with the state.
But, Black Spot says they chose to license all their artists anyways.