Hello Sailor!

Curator’s Statement

By Pamela Hart


In the world of classic tattoo art, before the image was marked on the body, there was the flash. These bold iconic designs were created by tattooists on sheets of paper and displayed in tattoo parlors. They’re part of the landscape of carnivals, Coney Island, and penny arcades. Look closely at a sheet of tattoo flash and you can almost smell the sweat, cotton candy and popcorn intermingling along the carnival’s dusty corridors. You can hear hawkers urging passersby to check out the bearded lady or take a toss and win a prize. Tattoo flash images caught customers’ attention because of what they represent. They include symbols and signs of love and beauty, of travel or time served, of war and military service. They’re amulets, mementos, or status symbols – occasionally religious, often personal. Whether elaborate or plain, the images suggest romance, travel, patriotism, adventure and perhaps a connection to shadowy subcultures.