Home » What is a Flash Tattoo? | Everything You Need To Know

What is a Flash Tattoo? | Everything You Need To Know

When it comes to getting your very first tattoo, either time is wasted in indecisiveness, or you’ll end up delaying, or worse, scrapping the idea altogether. That’s because many of us don’t know the answer to What is a flash tattoo? So when you can’t think up any ideas for your upcoming tattoo, think of flash tattoos. Flash tattoos are pre-drawn, pre-colored images of tattoos, offering you the fastest, most convenient route to getting a tattoo.

Wondering what flash tattoos are? Look back at your last visit to the tattoo studio. Remember all those tattoo designs printed on cardboard or paper displayed on the studio walls? Well, those are flash tattoos, and you can ask your artist to ink one of those pronto! You can rest assured the turnaround time would be a single session. 

Of course, flash tattoos — though relatively evergreen and famous — aren’t as popular as custom ink. Yet, if you, like many others, don’t have the time to sit through the brainstorming sessions followed by a long custom tattoo process, then pick your flash, and you’re ready to be inked instantly.

It’s typical for enthusiasts to go for flash tattoos as per the respective imagery. Else, minor modifications — minor only — may be done. If you’ve selected the flash design as inspiration for your following customization, then that defeats the purpose, yet you’re not the only one going on that path. The point is, the flash tattoo led you to be more decisive.

This article is your single source of information about flash tattoos. We begin by learning about the two types of flash tattoos.

Market Flash Tattoos

Market flash tattoo designs are the types of tattoo art you’ll find on the walls of tattoo studios or in-studio catalogs and other lobby books. These generic, recycled designs are simple enough to ink in one sitting. Market flash tattoo designs are classic designs that have never dipped in popularity. Examples include a simple heart, roses, pop culture symbols, infinity signs, and more.

What makes the process super fast is that a market flash tattoo comes with a ready-to-use art stencil for any market flash design you pick. What’s great is that you still have some leeway when it comes to customization — though not a lot. That flexibility is the choice to either opt for a grey and black look or colors of your choice. 

The flip side is, market flash designs aren’t unique. So, don’t be surprised to run into other folks wearing the same tattoo with identical specifications. The logical takeaway — if you’re looking for a fun, easy tattoo at minimum cost, then this variety beats both the collector and custom options discussed below.

Flash tattoo
Source: @francesco_cassiani_artist via Instagram

Collector Flash Tattoos

Collector flash tattoos are unique compared to their market flash counterparts, though not as impressive as the customized category. So it’s safe to say; the collector flash category falls midway between market and custom designs.

The artist creates valuable ‘collector’ flash designs from their passion, imagination, and distinct style. The collector flash designs in the artist’s treasure chest, then, are unique to the artist. If you have a favorite artist, you like many others may be willing to shell out a premium price for their designs.

Another appealing thing about collector flash designs is, the artist will never repeat them. Each piece is unique. What keeps these artists growing — their ability to add other, newer striking imagery to their collection. So, you must be wondering: what’s the difference between collector flash and custom tattoos if they’re both unique? The only difference is that the client’s inputs are never part of collector flash designs.

expensive than market flash. Yet, that’s not a cause for worry since all artists periodically have sales and special promotions to benefit you.

Collector Flash Tattoos
Source: @knoteyetattoo via Instagram

Difference Between Flash Tattoo & Custom Ink

As mentioned earlier, flash designs — small, simple, quick tattoo designs — are a shortcut to the world of tattoo artwork. When you’re unsure what you want, you can shop for a ready-to-go flash tattoo off the shelf. Then, of course, it gets tattooed in a “flash,” too. But, again, reinstating the noticeable, flash tattoos are easy to pick, quick, and cheap. The custom ink designs are at the polar end of the spectrum, but they require a depth of commitment.

When you’ve had multiple tattoos, or you want a personalized design on preconceived body placement, then customization is your only bet. Your instructions and design inputs will be incorporated by the artist while drawing the ultimate tattoo design. A common difference is the size and style of a custom tattoo compared to the flash variants. Custom tattoos are larger and more intricate.  

Flash Versus Custom Tattoos

What is a Flash Tattoo Good For?

  • Small size
  • Simple style
  • Quick to ink (just one sitting does it)
  • Low cost
  • Source of Inspiration

Drawbacks of Flash Tattoos:

  • The ‘market’ designs are not unique; multiple people will have them
  • The only possible customization is the coloring
  • The ‘collector’ variety is impressive — but only to the artist
  • No inputs of the client in the conceptualization of the design

What is a Custom Tattoo Good For?

  • All sizes are possible
  • It can be the most intricate design
  • Designs are unique
  • The price depends on your budget
  • Your inputs grant you an entirely personalized tattoo
  • The tattoo covers a larger area

Drawbacks of Custom Tattoos:

  • Expensive
  • More time, multiple sittings may be required
  • Time-consuming designing process

Things like the whole chest, whole back, or full sleeve tattoos are the product of custom tattooing only. You’re also looking at multiple sessions, more significant expense, and the use of a larger surface area, among the other differences.

An advantage of flash tattoos can also be that they can come in a temporary variety like henna. If you’re unsure which tattoo is right for you, henna tattoos may be the initial experimental start that makes the most sense. 

Custom Tattoo Example:

Custom Tattoo Example
Source: @maneentattoo via Instagram

Final Thoughts

Flash tattoos are fantastic when you have no idea what the world of tattoos is about, yet you’re ready for your very first ink. So, you walk in and walk out of the tattoo studio with a famous heart symbol or the like without costing you much time or money.

Imagine the hands on the artist must’ve had to engrave the same design over and over again. Of course, you’ll indeed walk away with perfection with a lovely, non-unique design. But, in the future, you may get a more significant, more intricate, and meaningful piece — a custom tattoo. That’s when you’ll have to ensure the best aftercare regimen goes hand in hand with getting your dream ink.

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About Author

Jonathan Corby "Jonny" is a guy who is passionate about Tattooing and successfully running a Tattoo Studio in NY. Through my journey as a Tattoo Artist I have made unforgettable memories. This irrational poetry and sense of freedom of art on skin has given a blissfull experience to my life. Each Tattoo has a story behind it; Lets share one!