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Tattoo Flashes

Pre-made Tattoo Designs

Tattoo flash refers to pre-made tattoo designs available for customers, eliminating the need for bespoke creations and often serving as a base for customised tattoos. Originating for quick tattooing in busy "street shops," which cater to a high volume of clients seeking standard tattoos, tattoo flash is traditionally displayed on paper in tattoo parlours, either in binders or on walls. In modern times, it's also promoted online and through social media.


The term "flash" stems from the late 1800s carnival and circus scene, where visually striking attractions, known as flash, were essential to draw crowds. Tattoo artists at these events would showcase their designs to attract patrons, leading to the term's adoption. These artists often carried sketchbooks with easy-to-transport designs for showing potential clients. The advent of electric tattoo machines in the 1890s allowed for quicker, more precise tattooing, leading to a shift towards professional shop-based tattooing. To meet the growing demand for tattoos, especially among sailors, artists started trading pre-drawn "flash" designs, often simpler in style for efficient tattooing. This exchange of appealing designs contributed to the uniformity of American traditional tattooing.


Classic "old school" flash designs are still prevalent, with many modern shop designs tracing back to influential artists like Lew Alberts (1880–1954). By the 1980s, there was a shift towards more personalised tattoos influenced by Polynesian and Japanese art, such as full sleeves. By 2000, most tattoo studios transitioned to custom work, using flash mainly for idea inspiration. Flash is created either by individual artists for their studios or traded among artists, with hand-drawn local flash largely replaced by professionally produced prints sold online or at conventions. Tattoo flash often includes a line drawing, or outline, on a separate sheet, simplifying the tattooing process for artists.


Here at Hammersmith Tattoo Studio London, we offer a variety of flash tattoos created by our talented artists, showcasing both traditional and contemporary designs to cater to diverse preferences and inspirations.

A Timeless Expression of Art and Individuality

Flash tattoos are a vibrant and iconic part of tattoo culture, offering a unique blend of tradition and contemporary design. These pre-designed pieces of art are not just tattoos; they're a testament to the enduring legacy of tattooing as an art form.

Originating in Tradition: Flash tattoos have their roots in the classic era of tattooing. Originally, they were displayed on the walls of tattoo shops, offering customers a selection of designs to choose from. These designs were often bold, colourful, and symbolic, featuring motifs like roses, skulls, nautical themes, and other timeless icons.


Why Choose a Flash Tattoo?

  • Speed and Simplicity: Flash tattoos are pre-designed, which means you can choose a design quickly and get tattooed without lengthy wait times.

  • Artistic Integrity: Each flash design is a piece of art crafted by tattoo artists, showcasing their style and creativity.

  • Affordability: Compared to custom designs, flash tattoos often come at a more accessible price point, making them a great choice for first-time clients or those looking for something more budget-friendly.

  • A Piece of History: By choosing a flash tattoo, you're wearing a piece of art that connects you to the rich history of tattooing.

Customizable and Unique: While flash tattoos are pre-designed, many artists are open to customising them to suit your individual style. This can mean altering sizes, colours, or adding personal touches to make the design uniquely yours.

Perfect for Tattoo Events: Flash tattoos are especially popular during tattoo events and conventions. They offer artists a chance to showcase a range of styles and clients an opportunity to get inked by their favourite artists with a reduced wait time.

Whether you're a seasoned tattoo enthusiast or a newcomer to the world of ink, flash tattoos offer an accessible, artistic, and deeply personal way to express yourself. Dive into the world of flash tattoos and wear a piece of art that resonates with your individuality and style.

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