The Difference Between Tattoo Flash Art and Custom Tattoo Designs

Traditional American Tattoo Flash by Ed Hardy

Historical Ed Hardy Tattoo Flash Art

If you’re like many people thinking about what to get for their next tattoo, you might be asking yourself, “What’s the difference between flash art and custom tattoo designs?”. Thankfully, the answer is pretty simple.

Flash art is art that is on the wall at a tattoo shop. It may have been drawn by the people working at the shop, or it was purchased for the shop. Some of the most famous historical flash artists and collections are those of Spider Web, Ed Hardy, J.D. Crow, Hulk Spaulding, Sailor Jerry, Edward Lee and Cherry Creek. There is a variety of ways that flash art is chosen and put up on the walls, the two things you should keep in mind are:

1. If it’s flash, chances are it isn’t exclusive to that shop, and many other shops in the world have some of the same designs.
2. If it’s on the wall, and there is a tattoo artist with availability that day, chances are, you can get the tattoo done the same day!

Traditional American Tattoo Flash by Sailor Jerry

Sailor Jerry Historical Flash

Custom tattoo designs can be almost anything you can think of. Many people have a general concept, but need someone to help them bring the idea to life. These are fully custom tattoos.

There are some things you can do to get the best custom tattoo possible:

1. Bring references or print outs to your consultation. Sending references through e-mail with notes helps as well.
2. Select an artist that does the style of tattoo you are looking for. Some artists are better at certain styles than others, check portfolios.
3. If you’re definitely getting a tattoo, be ready to put down a deposit for the drawing. Depending on the design, you may have to wait a week or two before the design is ready.

Something that some people don’t realize, is that flash art on the wall is a great starting place for your next tattoo! It can be customized! If you see something you like, but you’d like something changed, talk to an artist. Chances are they can incorporate your ideas and make the design so much better.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve over heard people walk through a tattoo shop and comment, oh, I like this detail on this one, but I don’t like it because. This is exactly the conversation you should be having with your artist!

I hope this helps clear up the difference between flash and custom work for you.