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Written by Kieran Proctor

Avoid Tattoo Flash!



So you’ve picked your tattoo style, decided on tattoo placement, selected a tattoo studio and have picked an artist. Now, the next stage is to see the tattooist you’ve chosen and have them create a custom design.

But, before we discuss how to have a tattooist create a custom design for you, let’s look at why you shouldn’t just get the exact tattoo you found on the internet. And what tattoo flash is and why you should avoid it. Let’s start with what tattoo flash is. 

What is tattoo flash?

Tattoo flash are the basic tattoo designs found on the walls of tattoo parlors. And in the books and binders that are displayed in all tattoo studios.

Tattoo flash are simple tattoo designs often set on 11×14-inch cards. These pre-drawn and pre-colored tattoo designs are not created by a particular tattoo studio or their artists.

When you walk into a tattoo studio, the tattoo flash that covers the walls is very likely not a product of that tattoo studio. Tattoo flash should not be mistaken for a product of the particular tattoo studio in which you see it.

More often, tattoo flash cards are purchased online and from tattoo supply companies. Tattoo flash cards are generally purchased when setting up a tattoo studio. And should be thought of like a component in a tattoo starter kit for new tattoo studios. They’re often mass produced in China.

Every shop has these basic tattoo flash design cards. And if you enter into a tattoo studio with no idea what style or design you want, the books the tattooists will give you to look through are populated with these tattoo flash cards. 

You should not pick a tattoo from tattoo flash or off the wall of a tattoo shop.

Tattoo flash are the designs given to people who have no idea what tattoo they want. Tattoo flash are a trap for people new to tattoos who wander into a tattoo parlor off the street.

You should not get a tattoo if you do not know what you want. And you should not get a tattoo if you have not invested time and energy into finding a tattoo that you would be happy to wear for years to come. Remember, tattoos are permanent.

Flash cards are the tattoo equivalent of a color by numbers for a tattooist and their studio to generate revenue. Newbies wander into a tattoo store and pick a tattoo off the wall. The tattooist then stencils it onto the client and colors it in.

Those Asian symbols that so many of the tattoo flash cards display and that are so often chosen by first time clients? The tattooist has no idea what it says. They didn’t create the flash card.

You might think you’re getting the word ‘love’ and wind up with a tattoo that says ‘chicken noodle soup’. You might laugh and think it’d never happen. But it happens so often, that there’s threads all over the internet dedicated to the ridiculous tattoos people have picked off the walls of tattoo shops.

Don’t be one of those tattoo fails. Don’t pick a tattoo from flash. And certainly don’t pick a tattoo with Asian writing if you can’t read the thing yourself. 

Tattoo designs picked from tattoo flash are often cheaper than custom tattoo designs

Flash tattoos are cheaper because they require no skill or effort on the part of the artist. The tattooist has likely tattooed that same design you see on the wall onto many other people before you walked into their tattoo studio.

Every noob walks in off the street and picks something off the wall of a tattoo shop. And the tattoos most often picked from tattoo flash will usually be displayed more prominently. So that the next newbie will see it and pick it faster.

Flash tattoos are cheap because the artist doesn’t need to put in any effort. They’ve tattooed that same design many times before. They could likely tattoo that flash design onto you, with their eyes closed.

You’re unique. Your style is unique. Do you really want the exact same tattoo that thousands of people out there in the world already have? No!

The same goes for tattoos you’ve found on the internet and you should not copy tattoos you found online

You might think you’ve found a tattoo on the internet that you can copy and nobody else will have that same tattoo. Well, except for whoever had the original you are copying. But you’d be wrong.

Customers will often bring in images of tattoos they’ve found on the internet. And they will want the same tattoo design.

The more popular a tattoo is online, the more likely it is that the particular tattoo has already been copied by hundreds or even thousands of other people. Avoid copying tattoos you’ve found online, if you want something truly unique to you!

If you don’t want the same tattoo everyone else has; and you’ve chosen the style you do want, having put in the time and effort to really decide what tattoo you want and where you want that tattoo to be placed, only then are you ready to order a custom design.

And, in the next article, I discuss the process of having a tattooist design a custom tattoo. So you can have a real tattoo that you’ll be proud to wear for years to come and not a menu item from the local asian takeaway. Or something else, that you might ‘regret’ later.

The Regret Factor
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