If you ever thought tattoo flash was just sheets of art on display you’d be right - but there’s a whole other depth to those little designs plastered to the walls of tattoo studios the world over, a sense of community to the artists and their clients, and different stories surrounding the practice.
Last Sunday, Sydney’s Broadway Tattoo held their annual tattoo flash sale, where tattoo enthusiasts and art lovers could experience the world of tattooing and the work of an artist they’ve been interested in, in a more intimate and informal setting. Depending on the design, you’d be looking at paying only $100 or $200 for a unique piece of work, the design taken from a sheet produced by the venues artists that had been specially drawn up for the event. Once a design had been chosen and worked onto its prideful wearer, that’s it, a one-off, never to be drawn again tattoo.
Layzie Flash Sheet
The Broadway Tattoo Flash Sale isn’t just a fun day for customers and curious souls, but a day for the studio’s artists to let their hair down and create something variable from their usual day-to-day work.
Don’t be fooled by his name, but Broadway artist Layzie had a pretty unique and endearing approach to his ideas for designs he made available. Fruit, meat and booze, Layzie came up with his own menu of options, with appetizing quirks surrounding his ideas. “I’ve done a surf and turf but the other way around because, you know, why not,” he said with a grin. “Then I’ve got a gold-flaked banana, a little schezwan sauce, get a bit of Rick And Morty in there!” For Layzie, the bold and bright cartoon-style delicacies were a world away from his usual requests for skulls and roses. “I do that stuff every day,” he said, “So I thought this would be a bit of fun!”
Similarly, Japanese-Australian artist Chris (Horigo) had a laid-back approach to his fine line black and red anime-inspired characters. With a whimsical element, Chris said, “I actually came up with these ideas while watching anime on my lounge.
“A turd with wings, a one-eyed umbrella – I was just trying to be a bit darker to my usual style. I love Japanese mythology, the red gives it a little more depth, more character you could say.”
Some of Chris Meadley's epic work
Indeed, the art on display drew your eyes to the work in a more intricate way, more so than the general sheets you stroll past on your average day. With the doors having only been opened a couple of hours, the rectangular Broadway premises was flooded with eager customers, the first come, first served basis meaning all the black couches were quickly filled with eagerly waiting victims. Seasoned artist Matt Straney said of the flash event, “It can be a good way for someone who hasn’t had a tattoo, or who wants to work with a new artist, to look at a particular style.
“Flash is still important, it’s what you and the artist make of it.”
Ultimately, the overriding appeal of events such as the Broadway Tattoo Flash Sale is the eclectic mesh of artists, styles and characters that amass in such a short period. You walk in there and find every kind of persona, from the sage and experienced to the bouncy and weird, with an equal measure of variety to be discovered in the sensational styles of art. From traditional Japanese to kooky cartoons, all the way to old school Sailor Jerry designs, the beauty of all this creative diversity is that as a collective, unexpectedly and welcomely, it works.
It’s not your everyday gathering, but at Broadway Tattoo, whether it stems from a simple piece of flash or an elaborately prepared custom design, you can be sure of professional, high-calibre work. There’s motley crew of characters, an otherwise mismatched set of personalities thrown together in a fun and cool environment that welcomes the average Joe into the family. At Broadway Tattoo, it’s all about the art, the fun, and the people.