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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

Texas A&M utility Gavin Grahovac (9) throws the ball during A&Ms game against Georgia on Friday, April 26, 2024, at Olsen Field. (CJ Smith/The Battalion)
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Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp attends the Class of 1972 50-year reunion in Kyle Field on April 20, 2022.
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Farewell from the graduating Battalion staff of 2024
Farewell from the graduating Battalion staff of 2024
The BattalionMay 4, 2024

Connecting dots, making lasting impressions

Ohayo+Pokes
Photo by Photo by Monique Nguyen
Ohayo Pokes

Art has always been a creative outlet for allied health junior Shim Mi Kadota. After feeling isolated, but wanting to make a difference in the way humans connect with each other, Kadota turned her creativity to stick-and-poke tattoos.
Using a needle and ink, Kadota has seen nearly 100 clients come through her apartment, each wanting a unique piece of her art permanently on their bodies. When it became more than just stick-and-poking close friends and social media mutuals, Kadota took her talent to Instagram, creating her business page, Ohayo Pokes, to showcase her art. Outreach on Instagram helped her begin to book more clients.
“When I first started stick-and-poking it was really just for fun, and it wasn’t until later that I started tattooing friends and mutual friends that it turned it into something else,” Kadota said. “That is when I really honed in on the idea that it could be something more than just stick-and-poking … that it could mean something bigger.”
Using nature as her common theme in most of her pokes, Kadota said her outlet has been an unconventional way for her to see the world.
“I would say my style has been really nature based,” Kadota said. “These past couple of years I’ve been pondering the idea of how connected the world really is, how we’re all connected back to nature but also [how] we’re all connected to each other. And that is such a beautiful process. So, through this art, I feel like that is just another connection I get to make.”
Although she hasn’t been poking for very long, Kadota said she receives great satisfaction from having clients walk through her door.
“Honestly it is such a humbling feeling that another college student or whoever is coming to my apartment [and] is like, ‘Hey, can you give me a tattoo?’” Kadota said. “That is so special, and not everyone can say that. It means a lot to me that they trust me, especially because I’m still new to this and I’m doing my best and still learning.
“I feel like I’ve always used art as a way to cope with life, so it’s always been a really good outlet for me, I’m not really good with my words. I’ve not really been taught how to express my emotions verbally, so art has been a really big influence in my life.”
After feeling uncomfortable and unwelcome in a tattoo shop environment, Kadota decided she wanted to alter the toxic tattoo experience to allow for clients to feel safe consenting to putting ink permanently on their body.
“The tattoo industry is filled with toxic masculinity,” Kadota said. “And a lot of women go to tattoo shops feeling super uncomfortable and just not safe with their tattoo artist. If you look at my page it’s mostly women, the majority of my clients are women, and it just makes me feel like I’m doing something for the industry.”
A major characteristic with Ohayo Pokes, Kadota said, is making sure every design she does on her clients is done with intention and consent, especially because normal tattoo shops are known for being intimidating and can influence clients into doing something they may not want to do.
“Now with a lot of social injustices being brought to light, that is also happening in the tattoo industry,” Kadota said. “So a lot of people are being called out for not asking for consent, but consent is a really big thing in the tattoo industry because you’re literally inflicting pain onto them with their permission. It is not a light duty, and it is not something that should be taken lightly. When someone is giving you their trust to do that, you need to honor and respect that.”
Kadota said a major issue when it comes to DIY tattooing is that it is done unhygienically, which puts people at a major risk of infection. In order to avoid this when her small business began to blow up, Kadota took the initiative to reach out to fellow stick-and-poke artists as a way to shape how she wanted to run her business safely.
“I don’t even think that I was stick-and-poking at that time, but I reached out to @dopetoast on Instagram and was like, ‘Hey, I’d love to be an apprentice or even just learn from you,’ and … honestly they’re so super supportive in teaching me how to set up a station and break it down to keep everything sanitary,” Kadota said.
Animal science sophomore Jacob Marshall said he couldn’t have been more impressed with his stick-and-poke experience and thought Kadota was very professional.
“I was kind of [apprehensive] because I’ve always been really careful about where I get my tattoos and I always make sure the shop has good reviews,” Marshall said. “When I go, I look and make sure everything is properly laid out and sanitized … obviously, I couldn’t do that with her, but when I got there I was very impressed about how clean and sanitary it was. She had the tray laid out and her sanitizing bottle … She washed her hands like a million times, gloves and all.”
Along with being able to create a positive space to connect with her clients, Kadota said her favorite part about Ohayo Pokes is the unique bond she gets to create with everyone she pokes.
“It feels really, really nice to have people want to share this experience with me, especially because getting a tattoo is one thing, but the experience makes it so much better,” Kadota said.

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