Spotlight Design: Barcode Tattoos - Outdated or Meaningful?

Barcode Tattoo

Barcode tattoos reached their height in the 90s, as a fun tattoo to get and a bit of a fad, but you might find it interesting that there’s a lot of meaning behind the popular tattoo. Barcodes are closely related to the buying, selling and organization of product. It’s a major ideological statement getting such a tattoo on a human being. Often times it’s a way of questioning how humanity is often seen as simply numbers – whether that’s a population number, a voting number or any other way that the identity of people is erased. It’s really saying something when you realize the barcode reader actually reads the space between the lines and not the lines itself?

Be Careful What It Reads!

The fun behind a barcode tattoo is that if it’s done properly the “item” can be scanned. Some people have chosen specific items while others simply left it up to their tattoo artist.There’s always an unsuspecting customer who simply asks for a “barcode”. Don’t be surprised if you later find out that it reads something silly, like condoms. In fact, it’s almost like Kanji letters, you never really know what it says unless you speak the language.

Unique foot barcode from Cameron @cameronschenk labeled up at Woolgoolga #barcodetattoo #funtattoo #scanme

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Most artists don’t want to do them. Most of the time their “fun” wears off quickly. Not to mention, lots of barcode tattoos don’t age well since the skin will eventually blur the lines over time.

Barcodes in the Fetish Community

Another reason people get barcode tattoos is that they may be involved in the BDSM lifestyle. Many submissives view themselves as property to their master so a barcode tattoo is a perfect way of showing that without spelling it out. Those in the fetish community closet don’t often want their families to know about it. A barcode is a great symbol that designates them as property without outing them.

Barcodes are a Number – Use It!

For those who want a barcode tattoo they can also be made into something meaningful by the numbers underneath. The number underneath the barcode is unique to each item (ironic considering people getting them to show their lack of identity in a world that lumps them into numbers), but these numbers can also be replaced with important dates or information – a phone number, an anniversary, a birthday.

Placement is Key

The most common places to get barcode tattoos are on the back of the neck or the wrist. However, many fashion campaigns also use barcodes and temporary tattoos displayed much more prominently, such as on the cheek or forehead.

A barcode tattoo really is the ultimate design if you’re looking for a design with so much meaning but the meaning isn’t out there is everyone else’s face! It takes a little time to figure out what a barcode tattoo may mean to you, are you willing to take the time to figure it out? Let us know what you think of them!

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