Difference Between Custom and Flash Tattoos

Article Updated for 2020

What’s the Difference Between Custom and Flash Tattoo?

Butterfly on your lower back? Infinity sign on your wrist? Mom written inside of a heart on your upper arm?

You see these tattoos everywhere and consider getting one yourself. You drive to your local tattoo parlor and see the words ‘Flash Tattoos’ outside– what does it mean?

What are flash tattoos, anyway?

We’re here to tell you about the difference between a flash tattoo and a custom tattoo.

And not everyone is open-minded about ink on their employees.


What is a Flash Tattoo?

A flash tattoo is a pre-made design you find on posters and inside books at the parlor.

There are two types of flash tattoos:

  • Market
  • Collector


What is a Flash Tattoo - Difference Between Custom and Flash Tattoos - Chosen Art Tattoo

Market Flash

Market Flash is a set of popular designs clients ask for, such as a heart, rose, or pop culture reference. These are what you see hanging on walls or kept in the lobby books.

They are simple and easy to complete in one sitting. These flash tattoos designs are generic and recycled by tattoo artists. Choosing out of a book means accepting you are not getting a unique piece and someone else likely has the same tattoo as you.

Collector Flash

Collector flash is unique to tattoo artists. They are designs made specifically by the artist in their preferred style or of their own interests.

An artist keeps these within their own portfolio and shows them to clients upon request. If you want a unique tattoo from a specific artist in their own style, this would be the way to go.

In most cases, an artist will not repeat their own pieces. If you find one by an artist you like, make an appointment to talk to them about their process.

Special flash events are common at most tattoo parlors. From holiday specials to fundraising events, artists create a set of tattoos they will do for an entire day or month.

Custom Tattoos

A full custom tattoo is one you and your artist design together. Custom tattoos can be something you present with specific reference photos or one you describe and allow the artist to take creative rights over.

A custom design is best if you want a tattoo that is unique to you or holds a lot of meaning. Custom tattoos are almost always larger pieces than flash designs and you are guaranteed to be the only person with one like it.

Tattoo artists recommend custom tattoos because it expands their portfolio, lets them create something they don’t normally do, and you get more for your money.

How to Pick a Tattoo

As you decide what kind of tattoo you want, don’t be afraid to talk to different artists to get recommendations and ideas.

If you want something fun, small, and quick go with a flash tattoo. It can be done in one sitting and you’ll be in and out pretty quickly.

On the other hand, if you want a tattoo that is significant and means a lot to you, create your own! Speak to one of our tattoo artists whose style you already like and see what they can do for you!

Contact Chosen Art Tattoo to set up a consultation!


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