What Is Tattoo Flash?

Tattoo flash is original artwork used to create tattoos. These designs are created by tattoo artists, and translated onto the skin by tattooists.

The term "tattoo flash" refers to the artwork that is used to create tattoos. Tattoo artists draw original artwork. These designs are then copied, and translated onto the skin of a customer by a tattooist. The tattooist creates a transfer of the original flash work, then uses ink, and a tattoo machine to re-create the original design.

When one visits a tattoo shop, they find tattoo flash printed out, categorized, and displayed. From there, the customer browses the artwork to find something specific that they want to have tattooed on their body. The customer can also suggest that the tattooist alter a design to include a name, to change eye color, or to have something converted from color to black and white.

You will find tattoo flash depicting anything and everything that can be effectively tattooed on the body. This includes images of animals, astrological symbols, objects, cartoon characters, scenes in nature, etc. Some flash art combines images with words and phrases. The bulk of flash art found in tattoo shops consists of the most popular designs that people request. When a tattoo artist sells their work, the most popular designs sell for the most money, naturally.


The tattoo artist creates flash in themed sets. A theme would consist of fairies, birds, hearts, or skulls, for example. These sets contain about five to ten pages. There are usually about six designs on each flash sheet. Tattoo flash is generally small in size. This is because most customers that want larger designs will work with the tattooist to create a customized design.

The tattoo artist will often include "line sheets" with each page. A line sheet consists of line drawings of each individual tattoo design. Line sheets are used to create transfers that are pressed onto the skin, leaving an outline of the tattoo design. Many tattooist prefer flash art that comes with line sheets because this saves the tattooist the time that they would spend tracing the original artwork, themselves.

Tattoo art is usually created on 11 x 14 paper, in the landscape format. This size is the industry standard for tattoo flash. Flash racks in tattoo shops are made to accommodate this paper size. Upon visiting a tattoo shop, you either find flash displayed on the walls, bound in books that customers can page through, or a combination of both.

Flash art is depicted either in color, or black and gray. Gray is used instead of white because many tattooist don't use white ink. White ink is not very vibrant, and it tends to fade from the skin, quickly.

When a flash artist creates an original design, they keep a few principles in mind:

- Tattoo artist ask themselves "How well will this design translate onto the skin?"

- Any area left uncolored will take on the shade of the customer's skin.

- It is also important for the artist to keep the line within the drawing a considerable distance apart. Lines that are too close together tend to blend over time. For this reason, tattoo flash is usually not reduced in size by the tattooist.

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