Flash Tattoo

Flash Tattoos: What’s the Difference Between Custom and Flash Tattoo?

Let’s paint a picture; you’re having a super nice day, it’s sunny and warm outside and you’re going for a walk around the city. All of a sudden you spot a tattoo parlor across the street with a giant sign saying ‘Walk-ins welcome“. And, now you’re intrigued; you’ve been wanting a tattoo for such a long time, but even if you do decide to get a quick tattoo, what would you even choose for a tattoo design. It’s not that you’ve been planning to do this.

Well, if this sound like something that could happen to you (or if it happened), we’ve got you covered. You don’t have to worry about thinking of a super cool tattoo design right there on the spot; instead, you can always rely on something called flash tattoos.

But, what are flash tattoos? In the following paragraphs, we’ll talk about flash tattoos, what they are, what designs they comprise, and how you can get your flash tattoo, well, in a flash. So, without further ado, let’s jump right into this super interesting topic!

Flash Tattoos: What’s the Difference Between Custom and Flash Tattoo?

1. What Are Flash Tattoos?

If you, now, all of a sudden think of a random tattoo design, chances are a common tattoo design like a rose, gun, heart, flowers, or anything in that realm will pop into your mind as a tattoo example. And that is what flash tattoos are; the most common tattoo designs, regarded as such by almost every single person out there.

Now, flash tattoo designs are generally drawn on paper or cardboard. As such, they’re then displayed on the walls, tattoo shop windows, and in binders so customers looking for a tattoo can have a quick inspiration (if they don’t really know what kind of a tattoo to get). Flash tattoos are always done fully; fully drawn and colored so that the customers have a complete understanding of what the tattoo will look like even before getting it tattooed on themselves.

What Are Flash Tattoos
Credit: @baraka.ttt

This is super convenient, for both the customers and the tattoo artist!

Okay, so let’s talk about the actual designs of these flash tattoos. First of all, they do come in different sizes. Generally, the exemplary, displayed tattoo designs are approximately 11×14 inches, printed. The tattoo designs are often printed, and the tattoo artist does sometimes chose to do a separate line drawing on different sheets so they don’t have to draw the same tattoo design all over again, every time.

The design of the flash tattoos often relies on the most common tattoo imagery, like vintage tattoo designs, different kinds of patterns, designs featuring skulls, roses, guns, flowers, you get the gist. But, we do have to point out that even among the common tattoo designs, the flash designs are organized and categorized as follows;

  • Market Flash designs – these are the common tattoo design we previously mentioned; heart rose, gun, skull, or anything from the popular culture. These are the tattoos you see upon walking into a tattoo parlor displayed on the walls. These designs are perfect for a walk-in session because they’re super simple and can be done in one sitting. The designs are common, generic, and surely far away from being unique. But, even as such, they can be super cool ad a great choice for people who simply want to pop their tattoo cherry.
Market Flash designs
Credit: @marcocalcinaro
  • Collector Flash designs – now, collect flash designs are simply unique flash tattoos. These are ready-made designs, designed specifically by tattoo artists in their own preferred style. These tattoos are far away from having common designs and they can be very interesting. The tattoo artists usually have special binders for their collector flash tattoos, which they only do once on a customer (most of the time). They generally do not repeat the tattoos when done using a collector flash design.

Fun fact: In the early days, tattoos have generally been condemned, having a greatly negative connotation and being usually associated with criminals and the mafia. That is why, tattoo artists would hang the flash tattoo examples around (often behind bars or pool rooms), so they can get them quickly done.

Also, in case the police showed up, the tattooists would grab their tattoo sheets and escape, in a flash. That is believed to be the original of the name ‘flash tattoo’.

2. So, Are Flash Tattoos Cool Now?

Well, here’s the thing; in their own way, flash tattoos do carry this idea of tattoos in the minds of the general public. And they do have some level of artistry and creativity, despite featuring some of the most common tattoo designs. Also, some people find these designs super tattoo traditional and omnipresent in the tattoo industry, for a reason.

Millions of tattoo artists have, at some point in their career, done a heart, rose, gun, or skull tattoo. Millions of those same tattoo artists have practiced their tattooing skills using those same designs. So, who are we to say that flash tattoos are cool or not?

Are Flash Tattoos Cool Now 1
Credit: @laisnomura

Flash tattoos are simply a personal preference; you either like them or you don’t. To be fair, most people prefer custom work, and most tattoo artists prefer custom-created designs if nothing to express their style and creativity. But, we think that flash tattoos can also have a feeling of uniqueness in the sense of being worn differently by different people, or having a unique story and unique interpretations varying from one person to the other.

Flash tattoos, if you think about it, are timeless tattoos that can never really go out of style since they were, at some point in time, a tattoo revolution and a standard for tattoo designs and popular tattoo styles.

So, are flash tattoos cool now? We are not sure yet, but let’s reformulate the question to get a better answer; would you watch an old movie, that is super cool and iconic, millions of people have watched it, and they watch it even nowadays. You probably would, like many of us would watch it. Just think about Titanic being relevant even 20+ years later.

So, would you get a common tattoo design, often regarded as traditional and cool despite the fact that millions of people around the world have it? Let’s be honest, we all probably would.

Are Flash Tattoos Cool Now 2
Credit: @byron.tattoo

So, let’s ask again; are flash tattoos cool? We’re definitely leaning towards the ‘yes’ answer, but we will leave our readers to make their own decision. In the meantime, we might as well take a look at some super cool flash tattoo designs in the following paragraphs.

Popular Flash Tattoo Designs

Vintage or Traditional Flash Tattoos

Vintage or traditional flash tattoos generally have a rather masculine vibe to them. And, sure they do; they were mostly done and worn by men in the past, since it was considered unattractive, to say the least, for women to have tattoos. Even the more feminine flash designs, featuring flowers, roses, or vines were done in such a way to depict or enhance the masculinity and coolness of simply having a tattoo.

Nowadays, traditional or vintage flash tattoos are worn by both, men and women. They are also more adjusted to the modern interpretation of flash tattoos and are easily manipulated to have a more feminine or even abstract appearance. Nevertheless, the old-school, truly vintage flash tattoos still seem to be the most popular choice, even nowadays. Therefore, here are some of the best vintage/traditional flash tattoo designs (in our humble opinion);

Vintage or Traditional Flash Tattoos 1
Credit: @davelurks
Vintage or Traditional Flash Tattoos 2
Credit: @old_times_tattoo_guadalupe
Vintage or Traditional Flash Tattoos 3
Credit: @frankie_sagrero_
Vintage or Traditional Flash Tattoos 4
Credit: @dot.ink
Vintage or Traditional Flash Tattoos 5
Credit: @iftheshroudfits

Contemporary Flash Tattoos

Contemporary, or neo-traditional flash tattoos are simply a modern take on traditional or vintage flash tattoos. They are still based on the old-school designs and colors, but are more emphasized, featuring bold lines, saturated modern colors, and a touch of 3D dimension in some cases. It is important to mention that contemporary flash tattoos allow for some rule-breaking and definitely vary from one tattoo artist to the other.

One thing is, however, sure; they are definitely more appealing and seem more unique than the traditional flash tattoos. As such, people seem more likely to get a contemporary flash tattoo nowadays compared to the vintage designs. So, if you’d like to get a flash tattoo but don’t really enjoy the common and simple designs of the vintage flash, then make sure to check out some of the following designs for inspiration;

Contemporary Flash Tattoos 1
Credit: @motorin_tatto0
Contemporary Flash Tattoos 2
Credit: @andrewfellerstattoos
Contemporary Flash Tattoos 3
Credit: @pau1terry_
Contemporary Flash Tattoos 4
Credit: @darlinrosesocialclub
Contemporary Flash Tattoos 5
Credit: @meganriley.tattoo

What Is The Difference Between Custom and Flash Tattoos?

Of course, when talking about flash tattoos, we have to mention the main factors that differentiate these quick, ready-made tattoo designs and the standard custom designs. Sure enough, the main difference would be the fact that custom designs are custom-made specifically for you. These designs allow you and your tattoo artist full artistic expression, where unique and special designs are being created. Of course, as such, custom designs are definitely more expensive and often require longer sessions.

Flash tattoos, on the other hand, are done quickly, usually in one sitting, and are stripped from any artistic expression and uniqueness, as many would agree. They are ready-made tattoo designs featuring common tattoo symbolism. As such, flash tattoos are definitely more affordable and done more quickly.

We have to mention one major advantage of flash tattoos though; being so common, flash tattoos are probably the most practiced tattoo designs. The tattoo artist knows the design in and out and has truly mastered it after doing it dozens of times. Therefore, you know you’ll be getting the best possible version of a flash tattoo, compared to a custom tattoo which is done once, and only for the first time.

Final Thoughts

Tattoos have come a long way. There is no reason for tattoos to be done ‘in a flash’ anymore, which obviously removes the need and interest for flash tattoos. Nowadays, tattoos are a part of one’s personal artistic expression, and there is no hiding that. So, the fact that maybe people don’t prefer common, quick tattoo designs isn’t such a bad thing; after all, everything in this life moves on and improves, even tattoos.

But, do we find flash tattoos still super interesting and artistic? Yes, definitely! There is a reason some tattoo designs are repeatedly used, over and over. So, if you’re struggling with finding the best tattoo design, or having someone create it for you, you can always start your tattoo journey with a flash tattoo. Luckily we’ve equipped you with everything you need to know for that journey! So, good luck and happy tattooing!

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