Stick & Poke in Montreal: An Interview with Del Stock
Interview By Fred Guillette
Stick and Poke is a centuries old way to give tattoos that consists of an artist using a needle and ink, as opposed to a machine, to manually poke every dot on someone's skin. They can be more convenient and enjoyable as people often have them done in the comforts of their homes. Del Stock is a Montreal based tattoo artist who specializes in Stick and Poke. His minimalistic cartoonish style immediately caught my eye and after getting 7 pieces done by him, needless to say, I have taken a liking to it. I was curious about his career so I asked him a couple of questions after getting inked.
First things first, when and why did you start tattooing?
I was 15 when I did my first tattoo and it was really just for fun. My friends and I were hanging out in my dad’s basement and we tattooed each other with whatever was laying around.
With what? A sewing needle?
My first tattoo was done with a guitar string, more specifically the MI string, the big one, you know? And we made the ink ourselves with ashes, water, and baby oil. But that’s not good. Don’t do that, I don’t approve.
Why did you choose to do poke instead of opting for a machine?
Well, like I said, I started by poking and I found it original. I thought it was a more ghetto way of doing things and the more I did it, the better and faster I got. Now, most of my clients only want poke.
So you were never really interested in using a machine?
I tried it but it’s two different worlds. That’s something you need to understand about tattoos. as well. Poke isn’t the beginner way, they’re just two different things. So yeah, I chose poke, or rather, poke chose me.
What does it take to be a tattoo artist?
You just have to do it. It doesn’t take that much especially in Québec. You mostly just need to be good at drawing and to practice. One thing I can recommend is a hygiene course but even that’s not required here.
Describe your style in three words.
Ignorant. Cartoon. Street.
What inspires you when you’re drawing your flashes?
It all happens in the morning. A cup of coffee, a joint, and then I get out everything I have. Very rarely do I draw at night or during the afternoon. What inspires me is often rap. Sometimes a bar will inspire a drawing. I don’t know man... Animals.
Speaking of animals, Tell me about your mascot, the rat.
That comes from way back. I’ve had pet rats ever since I was young so I often drew them. I had a lot of clients who asked me for some and by doing it, I developed a more repetitive way of drawing them. If you start reading about rats, it’s a pretty cool animal. They hang out in gangs, they treat each other’s wounds, and they survive through everything. You gotta check that out.
What does ACAB mean? And why do so many of your tattoos refer to it?
It means All Cats Are Beautiful because I’m an animal lover. If you know, you know.
What do you think about the Montréal tattoo scene?
I love it. There’s a beautiful scene in Montréal. We all talk. Everyone is close. We’re very lucky here. If you want to start tattooing, Montréal is the place. Compared to the rest of Québec and Canada, the scene in Montréal is big.
How is it different in comparison to the tattoo scene in Europe for example?
It’s different in style but also in the way that people perceive tattoos. In Montréal, you can have face tattoos and you’ll get weird looks but not nearly as many as you would somewhere else in the world. Tattoos are accepted in Europe, but still, not as much.
Finally, other than your Instagram (@del.stock), is there anything that you’d like to shout out?
Other than my Instagram, go check out my boy @metal.hurlant. He’s been here from the start. If you need jewelry, to repair jewelry, grills, anything, you go see that guy.