Inside-out guest blog - Handpoke / stick and poke tattoos

I've been idly wondering about a tattoo for about 5 years now but clearly needed a bit of serendipity to push it along. And serendipity happened in Portugal, during our recent, long overdue, holiday (PHOTO CREDIT: Createconnect@agency).

We met Awina, a fellow jewellery maker and sister of Julika, the lady who owns Salty Way, surf-and-climb-camp-hostel, where we stayed, at Pizza night. She is a fellow jewellery maker, making pieces from shell and silver so - as you can imagine - we had a lot to chat about and bonded over all things jewellery and handcrafted. 

Then, later in the week, there she was  (lalalaaa!!) at a cling-film covered table in the communal lounge space, using a thin singular needle to carefully ink a delicate flower onto a girl's arm, dot by dot. She shared that this was the "stick and poke" technique and she'd just got some colours so could do tattoos now, not only in black, but green and blue and pink and orange... orange... The (orange) inky seed had been planted... the question was, what design to have, but back to that after Awina:



My name is Awina Nölte. I am an Artist that just explored the Art of Handpoked Tattoos or Stick And Poke tattoos. So, let me tell you my story.

In the beginning I studied Information technology and Design. During and after the studies I worked as a Photographer, mostly weddings and portrait shoots. Then I discovered the craftsmanship of making jewellery. I made silver pieces combined with coconut and shells. After a few years of markets and online selling I worked in a tea shop. I struggled a bit of feeling "arrived" in the world of work and of finding my spot. 

So after some time for my mental health, I decided to go to Portugal to my sisters Surf and Climb Camp for half a year. That's my current location. I am taking care of my nephew Jacob and doing Handpoked Tattoos. 

So, how did I became a Tattoo Artist? I was discovering this kind of tattooing on Instagram and was immediately fascinated by how delicate they were able to do it. I got the feeling in my tummy that 'I can do that'. By accident, I discovered that the same artists that I was stunned by offered an online Handpoke Course. I booked it straight away. 

In Portugal I had all the supplies with me and found a brave soul that let me do my first tattoo. The ball started rolling and from that moment on and I found new clients every week. 

Awina in action with torch and gloves doing a handpoke tattoo on a girl's arm at a table PHOTO CREDIT: Createconnect@agencyPHOTO CREDIT: Createconnect@agency

Handpoked Tattoos involves ink getting poked into the skin, by hand, with the same kind of needle that you would use with the machine. They also get placed into the second skin layer. This technique is way more gentle to the skin so it is less painful and heals faster. The process itself  takes more time, is quiet and more intimate with the client.

I'm still learning so much with every tattoo I do. I am so grateful that I am able to do this and hopefully will continue back in my hometown Kiel in North Germany.



I spent a good 20 hours ruminating  about what design to have (in orange). The sticking point (!) previously has always been the thought of knowing that a tattoo will be there for ever more, so how do you make sure it's something you won't eventually regret? It had to have meaning. Previously I'd daydreamed about a flock of silhouetted-birds flying up my shoulders, in black.. but it never quite seemed the right. 

Then I remembered about the designs I'd been toying with for my Found by Dawn's logo uplift. I've been wanting to evolve my brand so it reflects the evolution of my jewellery making style from copper electroforming and leaf necklaces, towards more silver, gold, gemstone and precious jewellery. The missing leaf of my logo has been perfect before, but I now want to find something that says 'luxury' and reflects the 'Dawn' part of my business name, rather than the 'Found' part of it.

As an aside, because “Dawn” can be hard name to pronounce or understand in different languages, so I'll often say "Dawn, like morning" and do that international gesture with your hands that says 'rising sun'.

Because of this, and my desire to find a light-filled, life-affirming icon, I'd eventually found and settled on the outline of a sun for my logo, and went searching for stencil drawings that would look good in metallic foil on rich colours like teal and turquoise. During my foray into Pinterest, I'd found a stencil of a sun and settled on that. Funnily enough, the image I'd settled on and based my sketches around, was originally a tattoo. Suddenly, the dots (!) connected and I knew that it had to be an orange rising sun. 

Four photos: close up of tattoo being done with needle, Dawn and Awina at table doing stencil, Awina prepping Dawn's arms, the finished sunshine tattoo on Dawn's inner arm

Immediately, I knew - as if it had already been decided somewhere beyond me -  that it needed to be a half sun; an upside down reflection to the rest of the world, but the right way up for me; placed below the inner arm crease of my elbow, so that when I hold it up to my face, I would see the sun rising. A kind of rebirth. And a gentle acceptance that - whilst my 40s aren't quite what I imagined they might be - I will rise every day and bring my light with me.

My arm, complete with my new stencil-style tattoo of half an orange sun rising from my elbow crease, with Di's colourful Cotswold's garden, behind

Awina's Bio

Awina is currently living and working at Salty Way Surf and Climb Camp, in Colares, Portugal, looking after her nephew, making jewellery and perfecting the art of Handpoke Tattoos. She loves volleyball, making silver jewellery with shells, macrame and every kind of handicraft.

Follow her and see more of her work at

 Photos of a blue and black wave tattoo, Awina (centre) and a finished hand and moon tattoo (far right)

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