• sweevespeakeasytat

The Body Electric Flashes on the Bathroom Walls

Hi Kids!

Welcome back to the ramblings of a madman that is the weekly blog of Speakeasy Tattoo, Los Angeles.

Finally! The cool rains have arrived in Los Angeles. What never ceases to crack me up is how ill-equipped the Los Angeles infrastructure really is for even the tiniest bit of rain. In almost an instant, streets are flooded. Things come to a grinding halt for no other reason than the city planners didnt have the logical foresight to imagine that, rare as it may be, Los Angeles DOES, in fact, get a little bit of rain. One afternoon of mild showers is considered a "WINTER STORM" and Hollywood Blvd risks flash floods.

SO. There's your weather report. You're welcome.

What, you expect something a little more substantial?

I'll try. My brain is spinning and distracted. As mentioned last week, I am getting to the point in my apprenticeship in which I must start focusing less on sweeping floors and doing dishes and more on building an actual career. This means getting actual clients! Frankly, I'm terrified. Nothing like a global pandemic in a country that offers literally zero help to its citizens to try to build up a client base! Who's ready to spend that one time $2000 check? Oh....it's $1400 now? In April? Okay....cool....I guess I'll buy food in april. Who's ready to move to New Zealand?? Hey, at least we aren't dirty socialis........don't say it.

ANYWAY, all this flash flooding in Los Angeles while spinning my brain out of control into the depths of insanity overthinking the future, my thoughts are on creating flash art.

What is "flash" exactly?


Picture your classic tattoo parlor. Odds are, in your mind, you see a room lined with images of sheets of classic tattoo iconography. Roses, swallows, hearts and the like. This is flash. Simple, clean, classic designs, usually able to be completed in one sitting.

This is a tradition that dates back to the earliest days of electric tattooing. For a variety of reasons, tattooing was somewhat limited to what can be done in one session rather than larger pieces that require a long, drawn-out process. We've discussed the basics of tattoo history on here in the past so I won't bore you with rehashing all of that. If you are interested, go ahead and take a peruse back into earlier entries from myself and apprentices gone-by.

To put it briefly, a combination of the legalities fluctuating and the closely tied roots with sailor culture, tattoo artists had to be done "in a flash" so to speak.


This is also why it is not uncommon to see the imagery repeating (the line between plagiarism and homage is always a fine line to be balanced). How many variations have wee seen of the classic Sailor Jerry wolf that in and of itself was taken from an old advertisement for US Savings bonds?

But that said, flash is not limited to the variants. This is where we see the break of so-called "Market Flash" and "Collector Flash." Market Flash is exactly as it sounds. Its the "point at an image on the wall" wham bam, thank you ma'am Done. Collector flash is unique to the artist themselves. Typically, and as it should be, once a piece has been done by the artist, it is not repeated.


As to be expected, and as with everything else in the modern era, the internet has been both a blessing and a curse. One one hand, artists can reach an audience far greater than previously. On the other, pages like pinterest and tumblr will often collect and re-post artist's work without credit. Customers may see something they like and want the same. not fully recognizing the nature of tattooing and that unique work is unique for a reason. Honest tattoo artists will refuse to do an exact copy of someone else's work, but in the wonderful world of late stage capitalism, not all are honest. Causing a dilution of the art itself.

For this reason, it is best to find an artist YOU like and YOU seek out, rather than "who can reproduce this thing I saw on the internet best."

Hopefully that was a coherent explanation. I never know how to wrap these things up!

I'm looking forward to creating some cool flash for future clients as well as revisiting the classics. Also looking forward to doing some custom designs! And as always, all our other Speakeasy Artists are here with a variety of styles to meet your unique desires. Send in your submission today!

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