What Are Flash Tattoos? (2022)

Everyone and their mothers and their grandmothers have tattoos these days! The days of tattoos being “job-stoppers” are over and you probably have at least one, yourself. If you don’t and you’re on this page… c’mon we know you want to join the club! At the beginning of everyone’s tattoo journey, there comes a time when they stop and ask the internet, “What even is a flash tattoo?” Clearly, that’s where you’re at, and we’re here to help. You’ve probably heard this “flash” word thrown around a bunch now and maybe you even have a bit of an idea of what it means, but we can tell you’re looking for a full-blown breakdown of this “flash tattoo” concept. We’ve got you here at HUSH, and we are going to teach you everything there is to know about flash tattoos below.

What Is a Flash Tattoo?

A flash tattoo is a design that is ready to be tattooed immediately. Flash tattoos come as you see them. An artist usually has a sheet or a book with their flash designs in it. Typically, they are tattoos that are popular among people. On this note, you might have heard the term “flash sheet” before. This is a piece of paper that has a bunch of flash designs all together on it. You can look through all the designs at once and choose what you want. Have you ever seen those flash sheets for Halloween or Friday the 13th? Usually, artists will offer a variety of spooky designs with a set size and for a set price. This is a great example of what flash is. On the other days of the year, the designs are usually a mix of classic designs, trendy designs, and the artist’s particular style. Multiple people can pick the same flash design and get it tattooed. This is the thing about flash. Flash isn’t too unique and that means you and someone else can have the same tattoo. Side Note: What Is a Set Price or Set Size? You caught that too, huh? A set price or size is something that’s price or size is already decided. Ex: “This 5-inch tattoo has a set price of $200” or “This tattoo has a set size — it’s for palms only at a price of $150.”

(Video) What is tattoo flash?

Who Creates Flash Tattoos?

Flash tattoos are created by the artist. Well, mostly. Mira, if a design is simple enough they may have copied it from another person's flash sheet. A good artist can copy a design easily, especially a flash design, if it’s in their style — that said, most artists will choose to create their own designs versus taking someone else’s.

Are There Different Types of Flash Tattoos?

As tattoos become more popular and socially acceptable, more styles of tattoos have emerged. There is some debate, in the tattoo world, about flash. Typically, flash is seen as classic designs that are common for customers to ask for. Nowadays, you will see artists offering flash that looks nothing like the flash sheets that come up when you look in Google images. They are more stylized or they offer one or two designs that they call “flash” that are bigger or more complex than classic flash. We are going to break down the difference between typical and stylized flash for you, but bear in mind these aren’t official industry terms that people use. We are just using “typical” and “stylized” to help you differentiate as you learn, and we hope it helps!

Typical Flash

Typical flash is the kind of flash you see when you google “flash sheet.” You may also have seen typical flash when artist posts their Friday the 13th or Halloween flash sheets on their Instagrams. They are small designs that are fairly easy to tattoo and the subject matter is pretty common. We’re talking pairs of dice, cherries, spider webs, roses, horseshoes, martini glasses, stars, lips, arrows, skulls, butterflies, and the list goes on. You mostly see typical flash at shops that handle a lot of walk-in clients or have newer tattoo artists. These are great money-makers to fill in an artists’ time ni between scheduled appointments. Flash tattoos are also a great way for a newer artist to get comfortable tattooing.

(Video) Flash VS Custom Tattoos. Holly Astral Ask a Tattoo Artist

Stylized Flash

We are coining the term “stylized flash.” We don’t know if anyone has said it before… but we’re claiming it anyway! Stylized flash is when an artist has a few designs or a sheet of designs that they have created and want to tattoo. These designs are different from typical flash because they usually aren’t typical! Also, artists sometimes reserve the designs for a one-time tattoo. Meaning they won’t tattoo the design twice. If more than one person wants that design, they might do a similar version of it but not the same exact design. Artists offer stylized flash usually because they want to tattoo start tattooing more of that certain style. Or simply because they made a sick design and they want to show it to the world!

Why Is It Called “Flash” Tattoo?

Mmmm, there isn’t a great answer for this. Sorry. If you do some internet searching or ask your tattoo friends, they might tell you stories. There’s one about the illicit days of tattooing and some circus person quickly flashing tattoo designs to customers in between avoiding the cops. The circus-cops-flashing story is way more fun, but we think it probably has something to do with the meaning of the word flash. Maybe it’s from “flashy.” Tattoo artists create sheets of flashy designs and post them up on their walls to drive customers in. It could also be that flash means “done in a flash” because flash tattoos are typically quick designs. There’s another tall tale behind this one. Saying that tattoos were mostly done on sailors who would come into town for the day and want a quick tattoo “done in a flash.” We’re going to leave it up to you to decide on this one.

What Is the Difference Between a Flash Tattoo and a Custom Tattoo?

Easy — a flash tattoo is a pre-made design and a custom tattoo is specifically designed for a customer using an idea the customer brings in. Flash tattoos are ready to go. Custom tattoos have a longer process. A custom tattoo starts with a customer approaching an artist with a concept, the artist draws up their interpretation of the customers' idea, the artist and customer adjust whatever the customer wants different, and only then do they start the tattooing. With flash, you can just walk in, point to a design, and get tattooed immediately.

(Video) Unforgettable Flash Challenge Tattoos ⚡ Ink Master

Are Flash Tattoos Cheaper?

Most times, a flash tattoo will be cheaper than a custom tattoo. Custom tattoos take more time to think about and design and readjust depending on the customers' opinions. A flash tattoo is pre-made and ready to go. Maybe if you want some finger dots, that will be cheaper than flash. Otherwise, flash is a great way to go if you have tattoo cravings but you’re on a budget.

What’s the Point of Flash Tattoo?

A flash tattoo is an awesome idea if you are overwhelmed with the number of possibilities there are for a tattoo but you know you want a tattoo and you want it now! A flash takes away the many choices you have when creating a custom tattoo but can be a nice relief for some of you who are looking for less choice, more tattoos. If it’s your first tattoo (aw! yay!) getting a flash tattoo can be a great introduction to the feeling of getting a tattoo. If you don’t want to jump into getting a full back piece then getting a small flash design is a great way to introduce yourself to how it feels. Pero like, getting a tattoo doesn’t have to be painful to validate the experience. The tattoo world has come a long way, and it’s why HUSH exists. We have creams and sprays and gels that serve as topical aesthetics to help make tattooing less painful. Less ouch, more art. Check out our line of numbing products here — for newbies and veterans, alike.

Hot Tip

If you are on a shorter vacation and you find an artist in the same town that you love – get one of their flash tattoos! It can help make a memory of a place you love.

(Video) Flash and Custom Tattoos - What's The Difference Anyway?

Why Do Artists Do Flash?

A tattoo artist will do flash for a number of reasons. They might be trying to gain experience, save time, make extra money, or do more of a certain style. New artists might start only tattooing easy flash to gain experience. Doing flash tattoos can help an artist learn to tattoo without risking messing up a more complex design on a client. Some artists choose to only do flash or their stylized flash in order to save time. They might be working other projects or jobs and not have time to do custom tattoos but still want to keep tattooing. Flash can also be a great way for artists to make some extra money between scheduled appointments or on slow days. If an artist is offering stylized flash tattoos they might be trying to shift the type of tattoo styles they usually do. Sometimes artists create a bunch of stylized designs and offer them for a lower price point so they can try out a new style or skill.

That’s All, Folks!

You know the what, why, how, and more of flash tattoos now — from what a flash tattoo is, to who makes it, what the difference between flash and other types of tattoos, and why people make flash, you are officially a flash expert. The next step is adding some flash to your own collection! Go support your favorite local artist, and don’t forget to grab some numbing gel before you stop in 😉 Sources: Why is Tattoo Flash Called Flash? | Reddit r/traditionalflash Flash | Cambridge English Dictionary Topical Anesthesia | NCBI


What are flashes in tattooing? ›

A tattoo flash is a design printed or drawn on paper or cardboard, displayed on the walls of tattoo parlors and in binders to give walk-in customers ideas for tattoos.

What are flash tattoos called? ›

A market flash tattoo is a set of popular and classic designs that are usually of things like infinity signs, hearts, roses and pop culture references. You'll find these in lobby books or hanging on the walls of tattoo parlors.

Why is it called flash tattoo? ›

Why 'Flash'? The posted images of tattoo designs that you can find on the walls of almost every tattoo shop in the world is known as “flash,” which is a name that comes from a time at the start of tattooing when artists had to work on the move, as tattooing was still very much an elicit practice.

Is a flash tattoo a real tattoo? ›

A flash tattoo is a pre-made design you find on posters and inside books at the parlor. There are two types of flash tattoos: Market. Collector.

Why do tattoo artists do flash? ›

The original idea behind the flash design was to speed up the tattoo process by cutting down on consultation and design time. They were widely used in “street shops,” offering a large volume of generic tattoos to walk-in customers.

Are flash tattoos with color? ›

A flash tattoo has a matching line art stencil that the tattoo artist will use. The stencil design will be transferred directly on your skin before the actual tattoo process. The design is then kept gray and black or can be filled with colour or shading, depending on your preference.

How much do you tip for flash tattoos? ›

You generally tip your tattoo artist 20% - 30% of the price of your design. If your design takes more than one session, you can tip at the end of the final session.

How long do flash tattoos last? ›

How long does it last? Around four to six days, although scrubbing with soap in the shower or applying lotions can drastically shorten your tat's lifespan.

Where did flash tattoos originate? ›

Flash has evolved and progressed since its first origins in New York. As media and technology grew, so did the tastes and styles of clients. With inspiration coming from every outlet, tattoo artists began creating their own flash sheets in their preferred styles.

Can multiple people get the same flash tattoo? ›

Lots of people have identical tattoos simply because they have chosen flash from the wall of the studio. If it's a cultural tattoo from a culture that is not yours, be incredibly careful. If it is a tattoo someone designed for themselves that has a very personal meaning for them, be careful. If in doubt, ask.

How are flash tattoos made? ›

A process known as screen printing is used to create the tattoo image on paper coated with a transfer film. The transfer film allows the image to "slide" off the backing paper and onto the skin when moisture is applied. After drying, the film holds the image on the skin through several washings.

Do you tip a tattoo artist for a flash tattoo? ›

In short, yes, you should always strive to tip your tattoo artist. “Often, (tattoo artists) are renting a chair or space and give as much as 50% of their earnings to the shop owner,” Sinatra says.

Do flash tattoos get reused? ›

Some artists will refuse to reuse a flash design after it's been tattooed, but most of the time, they will use their flash designs on multiple clients. If a client wants a custom piece but they like something from a flash sheet, you can work off that design and change it to create a custom tattoo.

Do flash tattoos cost less? ›

Flash Tattoos

They are often smaller and cost less due to the stock quality of the image. These are popular tattoos for special promotions such as Friday the 13th. They typically have a cost of roughly $50 depending on the level of color and detail involved.

How much do you tip for a $500 tattoo? ›

The average percent of tips to a tattoo artist is 15-20%. So, for a $500 tattoo, you can tip $75-100.

Do flash tattoos fade? ›

Ephemeral tattoos look (and feel) like the real deal, but gradually fade from your skin over a period of 9-15 months until not a trace of the art can be seen on your skin.

How long do small flash tattoos take? ›

Small tattoos usually take under an hour to make. Palm-sized tattoo would take from one to three hours to make. Hand sized tattoo can take up to 5 hours to make. Full sleeve tattoo can take 6-10 hours to make.

How big is a flash tattoo? ›

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.

How much do you tip on a $5000 tattoo? ›

Generally, you should tip the tattoo artists around 20% to 30% on top of the final tattoo price. The tattoo community usually presents these numbers as the most common tipping amount. But, 20% or 30% are just the basic numbers; you should always tip taking into consideration all the aforementioned factors.

How much do you tip on a $200 tattoo? ›

However, the average tattoo tip in the U.S. is at least 15-20 percent. “A tip is a tip—we appreciate anything,” says Clifton. “But you can always follow the Golden Rule of tipping 20 percent of whatever your tattoo price was if you're not sure.”

How much do you tip for a $150 tattoo? ›

The general consensus in the tattoo community is that 20 percent is the typical amount to tip — just like at a restaurant or a hair salon. However, consider this number a baseline, as some tattoos require more or less work than others.

How do you make flash tattoos last longer? ›

Sealing the Tattoo

Baby powder – you can use baby powder to seal the tattoo. The powder will absorb all the excess oils, moisture, and ink, ensuring everything dries properly and stays stuck to the skin. Hair spray – once the tattoo has been applied and dried completely, you can use hair spray to set and seal it in.

How long does a flash tattoo last? ›

How long does it last? Around four to six days, although scrubbing with soap in the shower or applying lotions can drastically shorten your tat's lifespan.

What's a good tip for a flash tattoo? ›

“A suggested percentage of 20% to 25% for personal services is an accepted standard, especially in these post-COVID times.” Cornolo puts the range between 15% to 20%, but says that it really varies. “Some tip less, and some are very generous."

How much should flash tattoos cost? ›

Some tattoo artists charge a flat rate for specific pre-drawn designs or flash on the wall. How much are tattoos based on pre-existing designs? Typically in the $100 to $200 range, depending on the size and other factors.

Is it okay to copy a flash tattoo? ›

This is a huge no-no for reputable and talented tattoo artists. It's 100% fine to find inspiration in other tattoos, and ask your artist to design something like the design you love, or in the same theme or style. But the art you end up with should not be a copy of someone else's tattoo.

Can you ask to alter a flash tattoo? ›

Well, you've probably already seen flash tattoo art before in a tattoo shop. They are hand-drawn, ready-made designs that can be inked right away. These designs can also be modified to your liking by the artist.


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3. How to Design a Flash Sheet | Tattoo Artist
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6. So You Want An American Traditional Tattoo | Tattoo Styles

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