Tattoo flash are prepared tattoo designs which are intended for use in rapid tattooing. Most visitors to tattoo shops have seen tattoo flash, as they are typically displayed in the walls and in portfolios to give customers an idea of the kind of work they can receive. Tattoo flash encompasses a wide range of styles and designs, and it can come from a variety of sources.
Originally, tattoo flash were designed by the artist, who would display flash so that customers could pick a tattoo they wanted. Artists would also modify flash or create custom pieces on request. Over time, artists started trading flash with each other, and also also selling tattooflash, disseminating styles and designs across a broad community. Ultimately, companies started hiring tattoo flash designers, who produce a high volume of pieces for commercial sale on individual sheets or in books of collected tattoo flash.
Some people look down upon tattoo flash, arguing that while it's fine to use flash for inspiration, tattoos really ought to be custom designed, to create a unique and original piece. Copying from flash can also have complex copyright implications; for example, a client who prints out a piece from the Internet and asks to get it as a tattoo might potentially be violating copyright laws, unless he or she has been given explicit consent to use the work.