Tattoo Flash Ideas – Everything You Need to Know [2021 Information Guide]
Tattoo flash sheets are the quick to ink stencil images that can be readied and applied to make a tattoo quickly. Flash is an essential part of the tattoo industry dating back to the origins of Western tattoo, providing a glimpse into an artist’s style and approach.
What is Tattoo Flash?
In modern times, flash simply refers to designs and images that an artist has hand drawn on a sheet of paper or cardboard, although the origins of the term are a bit more interesting. Like many other elements in the tattoo world, flash is a term that grew out of the rough and tumble world of the secret tattoo shop.
In the days before widespread acceptance, American tattooing was a far more risqué, even clandestine operation, with artists setting up shop in the back rooms of bars and pool halls, usually in the hope that a sailor with cash in his pocket was drunk enough to get one. The itinerant tattooist would carry their tools in a suitcase, and after setting up shop would hang their own tattoo flash sheet on the walls for potential customers to choose a tattoo.
If things got a little rowdy or the police decided to spoil the party, the artist could close shop, pack up their flash designs and kit, and be gone in a flash.
Tattoo flash design remains an important part of the world of tattooing for a couple reasons. Many artists use traditional tattoo flash to decorate the shops where they work: a tattoo parlor doesn’t quite feel complete without sheets of brightly colored flash designs hanging on the walls, or vintage pics stacked in binders and ready for potential customers to peruse.
Which brings us to the main reason for flash.
Sheets of flash were originally used as an artist’s list of potential designs to choose from, and they are still heavily used in American tattooing today. While the popularity of custom tattoos continues to grow, many people still look to vintage or classic tattoo flash design for new art to add to their personal collection.
Some people simply draw inspiration from flash sheets, combining elements from different pieces to create their own, unique tattoos for their artist to execute. Flash art can come in all different sizes, although 11×14 inch sheets are the most common, and these hand drawn images are still an excellent way to see if an artist’s design style fits with your tastes.
In fact, flash art is still one of the best ways for a tattoo artist to market their work.
Is a Flash Tattoo Right for You?
At the end of the day, tattoos are best used as tools for self-expression, so the only opinion that really matters is your own. For some people the idea of seeing someone else with the same tattoo flash ink is enough to physically cringe, while for others a good tattoo design is good design, no matter how many people have that piece of art.
Other people take a combined approach, using flash to find a starting point for a piece, then working with a tattoo artist tweaking it and adding to it until it becomes more unique to them. Whether used as inspiration for tattoo design or as standalone works of art, there is no denying the appeal of this traditional tattoo style.
Enjoying your introduction to tattoo flash? Click on the links below for fully realized traditional tattoo galleries?
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Vintage Tattoo Flash vs. Contemporary Tattoo Flash Design
When we hear the words tattoo flash or flash sheet, most people think of American traditional tattoo designs like stars, roses or a rudimentary skull. This is simply a representation of an artist and their style.
While these are important designs in the history of tattooing, flash art is not limited to any one style and is unique to each artist: someone that specializes in cartoon characters and vivid colors will most likely have flash in the same style, while an artist that works in the Japanese style will have flash that reflects it.
An Old School Tradition vs. Custom Tattoo Art
As with all things, the tattoo industry is constantly changing with the tastes and sensibilities of new generations, and the development in electric tattooing, needles, and kit. Flash art arose out of a more basic time when people were given few tattoo design options to choose from before they sat in the chair and got down to business.
Today, most modern tattoo artists are willing to spend more time with a client discussing a concept and drawing a one of a kind tattoo specific to the customer. Both approaches have their merits; it really just depends on the individual…and their budget.
When creating a custom tattoo – such as a watercolor flower, a new wave butterfly, or irezumi Kitsune– many people don’t take into account the time an artist spends conceptualizing and creating a design. But don’t worry, it will be reflected in the price.
Pieces copied straight from a will always be cheaper than designs or simply because most of the mental work is already done; some artists even keep a separate outline so that they can apply even quicker.
Rapid tattooing that flash provides can sometimes cost as little as $50, although this completely depends on the tattoo shop, size of the piece, and the amount of color in a design. A custom piece of similar size can easily cost upwards of $150 dollars, once again depending on the intricacy of the piece and the artist’s hourly rate.
Another factor that can influence whether someone chooses custom work over tattoo flash art is the fact that artists reuse flash: just because you chose that bad ass dagger piercing a panther’s skull, or the popular cartoon characters from that show you like, it doesn’t mean it comes off the wall when you leave.
When choosing flash—especially old school and American traditional design—there is a real possibility that you are not the only one out there with the same tattoo.
Tattoos have come a long way from sailors on shore leave and the shotgun-shack tattoo shops that catered to them. With many A-list celebrities sporting some sort of ink – some even have their own tattooist on call – and the growing trend among young rappers to jump straight to face tattoos, these days it’s more difficult to name an entertainer that doesn’t have any ink.
Along with the growing popularity of tattoos, the level of technical skill on display by modern tattoo artists has also helped take this medium to the next level. Despite the mind blowing designs that become more common place every day, many people still associate the word “tattoo” with classical, yet generic tattoos of anchors, skulls, and roses hanging on the walls of tattoo shops, or the work of legendary tattoo master Norman ‘Sailor Jerry’ Collins.
Not strictly limited to traditional tattooing designs, these hand drawn images are referred to as flash and they are as much a part of modern tattoo studios as they are an essential component of tattoo history.
Tattoo Flash FAQs
Tattoo flash sheets are the quick to ink stencil images that can be readied and applied to make a tattoo quickly.
In the days before widespread acceptance artists set up shop in the back rooms of bars and pool halls. They would hang their own tattoo flash sheet on the walls for potential customers to choose. If things got rowdy or the police came, the artist could close shop, pack up their designs and kit, and be gone in a flash.
Pieces copied straight from a will always be cheaper than designs or simply because most of the mental work is already done
Flash art is also one of the best ways for a tattoo artist to market their work.
Top 29 Best Watches Under $500 For Men
With cellphones so ubiquitous, your watch choice can be less about telling time and more about personal style. However, a watch is not ‘just’ a watch. For example, the vast majority are made for right-handed people, but a select few cater to the lefties among us. There is a wide range in functionality and size.
The wristwatch is also one of the few socially acceptable accessories for men, so why not have a small selection? If you’re not cashing a CEO’s paycheck just yet, here are the top 28 most handsome watches for men that retail for under $500.
Got a bigger budget? Then check out our guide to the best men’s watches under $1000 instead.
Top 29 Best Watches Under $500 For Men
1. Tommy Hilfiger Stainless Steel Men’s Watch
If you like the feel of a pliable, non-metal band but aren’t comfortable with genuine leather, this watch comes equipped with a handsome synthetic band. At 46mm in diameter, this watch is perfect for men of smaller stature, as it will not overpower your hand or make it look like you’re wearing your father’s watch. With bold Arabic numerals, a stainless steel case, and classic styling, this watch is an outstanding choice for an everyday watch and the man on a budget.
2. Nordgreen Pioneer – Black Dial
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Not everyone has an endless amount of cash to drop on a luxury timepiece. If you’re money-conscious but want something high-end, then why not consider the Nordgreen Pioneer.
An inspired take on a classic Chronograph, Nordgreen celebrates the Danish with what they call a timepiece “that captures the sustainable future.” Available in various dial colors from blue, black, and white. There’s even the choice of three case colors – gunmetal, silver, and rose gold. A perfect addition to the collection of any watch enthusiast.
3. Fossil Grant Brown Leather Watch
This lovely offering by Fossil features slim Roman numeral hour markers and delicate cut-out hands. The casing is stainless steel and is water-resistant to 165 feet, making it a great dive watch. The band is made of supple, soft calfskin leather and uses a buckle closure.
Of course, this timepiece also comes with the generous 11-year warranty and it’s own fun tin. This watch oozes class and is great for nearly every occasion in your life.
4. Citizen Sport Stainless Steel Men’s Watch With Brown Leather Band
If you don’t want to deal with changing out a battery in a digital watch, this watch is powered by either natural or indoor lighting. The mineral crystal face and stainless steel case make this watch water-resistant to 330 feet, making it a great choice for swimmers and snorkelers.
Handsome and utilitarian, this is a great watch for everyday wear. It’s one of the best watches for men who are always on the go.
5. Fossil Men’s Machine Chronograph Silicone Watch
This watch was designed with the active man in mind. The knurled silicone band stands up to sweat and oils without issue, and the timepiece itself is water-resistant to 165 feet.
The patterned bezel and quality craftsmanship of the black dial is excellent, as is to be expected from a Fossil watch. It even comes in the iconic and collectible tin!
6. Citizen Men’s Eco-Drive Watch
This men’s watch features Japanese quartz movement that charges itself indoors or out when exposed to light, making it a great choice for those who don’t want to change out the battery too often. The stitched canvas strap is soft against your skin and will wick away moisture, while the mineral crystal face stands up to the rigors of your everyday life.
Water-resistant to 330 feet, this dive watch is a classic and simple design you’ll be proud of for years to come.
7. Invicta Pro Diver Chronograph Men’s Watch
Another gorgeous offering by Invicta, this watch features a bold design with a slightly nautical feel to it. It will look at home whether you’re wearing a business suit or are going for a dive of less than 660 feet. This piece is also covered by a one-year warranty as a matter of course. The luminosity feature and magnified date window make it a great choice if you work or play in low light.
If you want something that looks like a Tag Heuer but without the luxury watch brand price tag, this is a good option!
8. Casio Edifice Multi-Function Men’s Watch
This watch has three sub-dials for 12 hour, 60 minute and 60-second displays, in addition to the standard time. It also features a fold-over, push-down clasp on the stainless strap, keeping it secure throughout your activities. If you’re looking for a classy timepiece that shrieks sophistication, this is a great choice.
9. Fossil Machine Three Hand Stainless Steel Men’s Watch
This quality watch is a chameleon piece. It looks at home as a dress watch riding below the cuff of your best suit, and it also looks great paired with jeans and a t-shirt. Backed by Fossil’s 11-year warranty as a matter of course and beautifully crafted, this smoke-colored piece is guaranteed to become the go-to accessory for nearly every occasion.
10. MVMT Watches Black Face Men’s Watch
If you like the look of a simple watch, this minimalist offering from MVMT is right up your alley. With just a plain black face, tick marks to denote the hours and a single date window, there is nothing overdone or extravagant about this design. The is understated and suited to the simple design. It’s definitely a classy, low-key piece for the budget-conscious.
11. Timex Weekender Watch
If you’re looking for a fun watch to pair with casual outfits, this is a great option. The band is blue and yellow woven nylon, and the face features both civilian and military timekeeping. An Indiglo night light is also included. This watch is water-resistant to 99 feet, meaning it can withstand splashes of water or exposure to rain but you won’t want to submerge it.
12. PUMA Ultrasize Black Sport Men’s Watch
Boasting a 50mm diameter, this piece is perfect for the large-framed man or one who likes to wear his accessories oversized. A true fashion statement, this sports watch comes in eight different colors schemes to match your favorite hues.
Do be aware, however, that the dial knob is configure for left-handed men!
13. Timex Easy Reader Men’s Watch
Another dress watch designed with the older gentleman in mind, this watch features a white dial with generously sized numerals that do not appear comical to the casual observer.
It’s also an excellent choice if you take your contacts out at night and still want to be able to check the time. With classic lines and a simple white face, the watch would not be out of place at any casual gathering. It comes with Timex’s one-year warranty at no additional charge.
14. Fossil Nate Men’s Chronograph Watch
For men who like a more gritty, industrial feel to their accessories, this Fossil watch is right on point. The bezel is gear-edged and the face is utilitarian black and gray. Water-resistant to 165 feet, this watch is a great choice if you like your adornments to be understated yet add visual interest.
It’s definitely a stand-out piece, for those who would take notice!
15. Timex Expedition Field Chronograph Men’s Watch
Featuring an indigo night light, tachymeter, a date window and a buckle closure, this watch is perfect for men who like to work or play outdoors. It is also water-resistant to 330 feet, making it a great choice for snorkeling or swimming.
You won’t want to wear it for diving, however. With classic, black styling and a genuine crystal face, this is a timepiece that will stand the test of time in both form and function.
16. Seiko 5 Automatic Stainless Steel Men’s Watch
This Seiko automatic watch has all the bells and whistles you need, but presents it all in a plain and strikingly attractive manner. It features a date window in either English or Spanish, sword-shaped hands, a sweeping second hand and a mineral dial window. This is a great option for the man on the go. The canvas strap can be removed and hand-washed if sweat or other odors become an issue.
This watch is not water-resistant, so you’ll only want to wear it when you won’t be popping by the pool for a swim!
17. Invicta Pro Diver Collection Silver-Tone Men’s Watch
For those who prefer an all-metal timepiece, the stainless steel Invicta fits the bill nicely. It has a similar aesthetic to a Tag Heuer watch, but at a more affordable price. Equipped with a unilateral bezel and removable links, the band can be customized to fit your wrist perfectly. The face is flame fusion crystal and features a magnifier to highlight the date window.
It’s also water-resistant to 660 feet. If you’re looking for a gorgeous watch that stands up to an active lifestyle, this is an excellent choice.
18. Seiko Men’s Adventure-Solar Classic Casual Watch
This Seiko watch derives its power from either natural or indoor light and can withstand water depths of up to 330 feet. The supple brown leather strap and timeless brushed steel give this piece an attractive look, and the alarm chronograph is easy to set.
If you’re looking for a watch that can serve as a backup for your wake-up call while traveling, stand up to the elements and look awesome, this casual wrist watch is a winner.
19. Nautica Men’s Stainless Steel Watch with Blue Resin Band
Featuring a plethora of options and a smart, snappy style, this a great casual watch with a eye-catching blue dial. The hardy resin band is adjustable, and the face is protected by a mineral window. Whether for work or play, this bold blue design is handsome and substantial on the wrist. It comes with Nautica’s five-year warranty at no additional charge.
20. Citizen Sport Men’s Stainless Steel Watch with Black Leather Band
The black, red and white face of this piece eschews the traditional two-tone color scheme so often employed in other watches, and the contrasting stitching on the band adds creative flair. It comes backed by Citizen’s five-year warranty and will compliment any casual outfit.
21. Alessi Tic15 Analog Display Analog Quartz Black Men’s Watch
Another not-quite-round offering on our list, the curved square casing of this piece gives it instant visual appeal. Sleek and clean, this unfussy design will be a compliment to almost any occasion. It has quartz movement and is water-resistant to 99 feet, making it a great choice for everyday wear.
22. Invicta 1517 I Force Collection Watch
Another on our list designed for left-handed men, this watch is something special. Water-resistant to 330 feet and featuring oversize stenciled numbers and a sub dial, this watch is great for any casual outfit. The cloth band is extremely durable and stands up to dirt, sweat and grime.
If you lead an active lifestyle, this watch will be right at home in your collection.
23. TRIWA Blue Steel Nevil Canvas Watch
This watch comes in a whopping 14 color variations, all of them beautiful. You may decide to add more than one to your collection!
Designed in Sweden, this watch features Japanese quartz movement, a stainless steel casing and a strap made from Tärnsjö organic leather. TRIWA, which stands for Transforming the Industry of Watches, believes in the artistry of fine jewelry and it shows in their product.
24. Victorinox Swiss Army Alliance Watch
Another fine dress watch from the makers of the Swiss Army knife, this watch is emblazoned with the internally recognized cross and shield emblem. It has no sub-dials, tachymeter or other add-ons to detract from its simple and appealing style.
This watch will be at home with all but the most formal of outfits and carries a two-year warranty.
25. Ingersoll Automatic Stainless Steel Bull Run Watch
Again, Ingersoll remakes the classics and brings them into the present day. With a highly polished stainless steel casing, two sub-dials, a date aperture and arrow-shaped hands, this quartz watch is beautiful.
The band features contrasting stitching on the fine-grain leather, adding depth and detail to the workmanship. This watch will compliment any casual occasion and can be relied upon for years to come.
26. Tissot Quickster Chronograph Black Leather Men’s Watch
Made with scratch-resistant sapphire crystal and Swiss automatic movement, this watch is a smart and utilitarian choice. If you’re looking for a solid Swiss watch that isn’t flashy, this is an excellent option. It’s also guaranteed for two years.
27. Seiko Sport Solar Men’s Beige Watch
Are you getting tired of squinting down at your watch or holding it closer and closer to your face? Don’t worry, we all get a bit nearsighted with age, especially over the age of 40.
If you’re not quite ready for reading glasses or a comically huge watch, this is a great choice from Seiko. The numerals, indices and luminous hands stand out in stark white against a black background, and the numerals are generous in size. It’s a perfect casual watch for the older gentleman.
28. Seiko Men’s 5 Watch Blue Canvas Band
This simple and affordable watch has a clean, crisp aesthetic to it and doesn’t bog down its design with a ton of bells and whistles. It’s time and date, end of.
If you want a watch for casual wear, this Seiko is a shoo-in. The band is forgiving and comfortable against your wrist, and it’s blue color will likely compliment your existing wardrobe. The price is also extremely affordable.
29. Tommy Hilfiger Men’s Stainless Steel Watch With Brown Leather Band
Featuring the Hilfiger logo at the three o’clock position, this wrist watch is a statement piece. It is a bright, shiny stainless steel work of art that you’ll be proud to wear at all but the most stuffy of workplaces. The calfskin leather band uses a buckle closure and the date window is beside the logo at three o’clock.
If you’re a fan of Tommy clothing, cologne or luggage, you can complete your look with this stunning accessory.