Thinking about getting a Barcode Tattoos? Check out our detailed guide to learn all you need to know about best placements, potential meanings and more!
In the late 1940s, the modern barcode system that we use today first originated. It was used as a way to monitor inventory control and increase worker productivity and its initial debut on the market occurred in the summer of 1975.
We see barcodes present on almost every product for sale, giving the symbol an automatic association with capitalism, consumerism and labour in today’s day and age.
We see new trends emerging in the realms of fine art, music and tattooing alike as people begin to reject consumer culture and further celebrate individuality. Working as a way to take a stance against the status quo of our modern corporate-driven society, the barcode tattoo is one of these artistic statements.
Read along and explore the potential meanings behind it, best placements, barcode tattoo ideas and more, if you feel drawn to the barcode tattoo!
Things to Know Before Getting a Barcode Tattoos
Make sure that you do your research and find an artist skilled in precise linework before taking the jump into your badass barcode tattoo.
Before booking an appointment, always make sure to check an artist’s portfolio, so that you can better understand what they specialize in, and whether or not they’d be a good fit for your vision. Try to visualize beforehand what you’d like to include within your barcode pieces, such as birth date numbers, letters and the barcode itself.
There are several free barcode generators online that allow you to create your own design, to help you out along your journey. When deciding how to add further elements such as imagery or variation in design motif to the barcode, consult your artist and listen to their recommendations.
FAQ’s About Barcode Tattoos
What do barcode tattoos mean?
It becomes apparent that the main themes behind the tattoo typically revolve around individualism, warnings against becoming a product or “slave”, stances against capitalism and consumerism, and protests against corporate greed when contemplating the meaning barcode tattoos
The generalized ideology behind it is that the majority of us are labourers working to survive, but ultimately serving the ultra-elite who control the majority of resources, goods and opportunities, for those using their barcode tattoo as a symbol of dissent
People who choose the barcode symbol as a form of protest tend to believe that capitalism is a system based upon greed and disregard for equal opportunity, even if the beliefs and stances on capitalism vary.
In systems like this, those without access to a decent education or adequate resources tend not to thrive. Also, those suffering from mental and ailments physical, as well as the elderly, are also typically unable to compete in a capitalist society.
Amongst many others, for these reasons people believe that capitalism and consumerism aids in creating human suffering and that the rewards reaped from this type of system do so at the expense of the “underclass”.
We can view the barcode tattoo as an ironic symbol this way, aspiration for something better to replace the current system and giving a head nod to the disposable condition of the modern worker.
The statement has less to do with commentary of the state of society or industry, and more to do with commemorating special dates, marking hidden meanings, or celebrating individuality, for some who choose to adorn their body with the barcode tattoo
A barcode tattoo works to represent an individual person just as a particular barcode is used to identify an individual product.
Most people incorporate sentimental dates, names, or single words into their unique barcode tattoos.
Others have worked in elements of city skylines, animals, zip codes and just about any symbols imaginable or personalized imagery.
It can also work to represent a fierce sense of individuality and a rejection of conformity and “sameness” even if the barcode tattoo can be used to signify feeling like a cog in a machine.
It is entirely possible to customize the piece to fit your beliefs and intended meaning regardless of your personal connection to the barcode symbol as a tattoo.
Can you scan a barcode tattoo?
Many often wonder, will we be able to scan barcode tattoos? And the answer is yes!
Your personalized barcode tattoo will be able to be picked up by a traditional scanner, as long as the artist has been precise with their line work.
Though as a warning, before getting your tattoo, make sure you are aware of what your barcode will scan. Make sure that you create a custom barcode, or choose one that you don’t mind wearing if you don’t want to be scanned as a bag of flaming hot Cheetos, or feminine hygiene products!
Can you create your own barcode tattoo?
Yes, it is possible to create your very own personalized barcode tattoo!
When contemplating your particular barcode tattoo design, think about the elements that you want to incorporate and how you’d like them to be placed. Whether you’d like to create a barcode birthday tattoo, use bold or rainbow colours, or have the barcode melting or morphing into something else, all is possible as there are no rules when creating your permanent piece of art!
For best results, it is recommended to bring any reference material such as UPC barcodes and additional imagery to your artist to allow them to bring your vision to life!
How to generate a barcode for your tattoo
There are several barcode generator websites available which allow you to easily create your own barcode tattoo designs; incorporating numbers, characters, letters, or specific single words.
While some select numbers representing birthdays, anniversaries, or significant life moments, others prefer to use this feature to adorn their skin with a partner or loved one’s initials or name.
Scott Blake, an artist who specializes in barcode tattoos, suggests that your barcodes tattoo designs should contain about 42 vertical lines per inch of space and a combination of black and white bars. To allow space for the necessary line work, ideal size for a scan ready barcode tattoo should be about 2.26 into 2.5.
If you don’t want to use an online generator you can always gather examples of UPC barcodes that appeal to you and provide them to your artist as reference material.
What information can a barcode tattoo hold?
Your barcode tattoo can hold a great deal of information, some that will ring up and be displayed at your local grocery or convenience store and some personal only to you.
Barcodes are traditionally used to identify specific products and their prices, so depending upon which barcode you choose, you could ring up like a new pair of shoes, or Oreo cookies, as you wish.
You can include sequences that hold sentimental meaning to you, allowing the tattoo to have an element of hidden or unexplained meaning when using numbers at the base of your barcode
Ideally, many would love to receive barcode tattoos that could be easily scanned to reveal medical history, work history, or other pertinent individual information. The possibility seems closer than ever, while there are not yet tattoos of this kind available now.
By Thomas Heeter, a patent has recently been filed to create a barcode tattoo that would allow customers to scan their skin at the register instead of utilizing cards or cash. Upon a scan of the tattoo, the barcode tattoo is connected to the person’s bank account, automatically withdrawing the money.
While some fear that it may be a biblical warning about the state of society, and could be similar to the “mark of the beast” as described in the Bible’s Book of Genesis, others are excited at this prospect.
What are the numbers in a barcode?
The numbers in a barcode work to identify particular aspects of a product.
The first digit is used to identify the numbering system, the next five digits identify the manufacturer, and the following five digits represent the individual item. The 12th and last digit in the barcode are traditionally used as a “check digit”.
Barcode Tattoo Designs
When designing your unique barcode tattoo designs, there are plenty of resources for inspiration and aesthetic options. You can keep your barcode tattoo designs simple and classic, or add unusual components to paint your own picture.
With barcode tattoos now gaining visibility in popular culture, many are interested in finding a barcodes tattoo design of their own.
Video games have played a big role in popularizing this tattoo, especially the game series “Hitman”, featuring the protagonist “Agent 47”, who sports a barcode tattoo on the back of his neck. Only to discover that the barcode represents the cloning facility in which he was manufactured, hence giving him the name of “47, many have asked what the hitman barcode tattoo means, ”.
It can also be used as a symbol of individuality, although the barcode tattoo can represent the ills of materialism and corporate greed.
Depending on the barcode tattoo designs elements you add to your barcode tattoo, you can easily construct a meaningful and personalized piece alongside your trusted artist.
Barcode tattoo designs can easily vary from lighthearted and playful, to sentimental in nature. Some prefer to add the barcode as an addition to a larger piece, while others have chosen to make the barcode the focal point of their design.
To represent your intended meaning, whatever your preferred style or aesthetic, rest assured that you can create a highly symbolic barcode tattoo.
Best Body Placements for Barcode Tattoos
Barcode tattoo on the neck
On the back or side of the neck, the barcode tattoo works beautifully. To pay homage to the game’s main character, “Agent 47”, many inspired by the Hitman video game series have chosen this placement.
Feeling that it is a prime place to display their art, others enjoy the visibility of a barcode tattoo on the neck. The small size of the barcode can complement a larger piece on the back or shoulders and tends to work nicely in this space.
Barcode tattoo on the wrist
The barcode wrist tattoo is an accessible and fun placement, for those who want to easily scan their art.
The small size of the barcode can be used as the beginning of a highly personalized sleeve and works great in the space provided by the wrist.
Barcode tattoo on the hand
A barcode tattoo on the hand can be a super cool placement if you’re looking for a truly unique piece.
While allowing you to scan yourself with ease, the hand allows maximum visibility for your tattoo.
Including palm tattoos and a wide array of additional design elements, there are many variations of barcode tattoos on the hand.
Barcode tattoo on the back
A barcode tattoo on the back might be the best placement for you if you’re looking to create a large scale piece.
Your artist can easily incorporate many additional design motifs and expand the size of the barcode with the amount of space that the back has to offer.
If you’re more interested in the symbolism and art than functionality, the back is an excellent option while a larger barcode will probably not scan.
Why are Barcode Tattoos Not Always a Good Idea?
For the barcode tattoos not being the best option for you, there are several factors.
To ensure that you haven’t permanently placed something you may later find degrading on your skin, for starters you should make sure that you know what your barcode scans for ahead of time.
With barcodes for all sorts of undesirable things, there have been stories of well-intended people ending up. So it is imperative to do your research first. Barcode tattoos may not be for you if you’re someone who wants your tattoos to age well.
These tattoos can end up appearing muddled and less legible over time, due to the close proximity of the intricate lines and the tendency of the skin to sag and change with age.
These tattoos can tend to appear blurred, blown out or messy if you are unable to find an artist skilled with precision line work. To create these looks, there are many artists with the skill level and ability; just make sure to take a look at their existing work before booking an appointment!
QR Code Tattoos
2D barcodes that hold what is known as “alphanumeric” information are QR code tattoos. Make sure that the content your code will generate is permanent when electing to get a QR code tattoo. It’s possible that years down the line the site will be inactive and the code will become somewhat useless if you insert a link to a website in your code.
For your QR code, many suggest choosing something that will remain “static”, such as a favourite quote, or a personal mantra, or the name of a loved one.
Consult an experienced and skilled artist to bring your vision to life when designing your QR code tattoo!