CHOOSE LIFE, NOT 9 TO 5 RUBY ASH
CORNISH-BORN CREATIVE RUBY ASH IS A ROVING STICK AND POKE TATTOO ARTIST, POPPING UP WITH HER NOMADIC BUSINESS WHEREVER THE WAVES TAKE HER.
Thriving off a life led by her creative pursuits, being a stick and poke tattoo artist has given Ruby freedom. “I am able to travel wherever and whenever I wish, bringing my little magic kit with me everywhere. This gives me all the space and time I need to grow as an artist and surfer. I arrange my own schedule and love what I do,” she says. Thanks to her love for surf and travel, the past few years have seen her original artworks adorning sun-kissed skins in Cornwall, Bali, Nicaragua, Sri Lanka and Portugal.
Originally based in Bude, Ruby picked up stick and poke tattooing whilst living in Sri Lanka, instantly falling,
“in love with the simplicity of the entire process, as well as the style of the tattoos”. Having worked in surf shops as a teenager, Ruby’s introduction to stick and poke quickly ignited an enduring passion, and she soon ordered her first lot of needles and started on friends. Her artwork was spot on and momentum built from there.
So, what exactly is the stick and poke craze sweeping through surf towns? Ruby explains it as, “a very traditional, prison-style way of tattooing. You have the regular tattoo needles, but instead of using a machine, you attach the needle to a chopstick, dip it in ink and create a design. I usually start by hand drawing the illustrations as a flash sheet or request. There are lots of little dots, and you just go over and join the dots to make a solid line. The process is as simple as it gets!”
Stick and poke tattoos seem to have become synonymous with counter-culture sports like surfing. Ruby suggests that it has aligned with surf culture because it’s an old-school, authentic way of tattooing. She says: “The majority of folk I hand-poke are carefree travellers and surfers. Stick and poke tattoos also heal loads quicker than regular tattoos, allowing all the surf-crazed gals and guys to get back in the water quicker.”
Ruby explains that for budding stick and pokers that want to get started, it’s useful to have a background in design and it’s vital to have an incredibly steady hand. “You also need need to get on-point with hygiene, be brave and find willing people to practice on (you can also use pig skin). The rest is passion! Like anything you want to accomplish in life, passion and love are key.”