QR codes are everywhere nowadays. They often track information about products while also used in marketing and advertising campaigns. People use them in day-to-day online activities such as in payment transactions, authenticating online accounts, and more recently, on Covid-19 vaccine passports. And now, people are wearing QR codes as tattoos.
Getting QR Codes Tattooed
There’s always a story behind a tattoo. After all, the wearer wanted to keep a certain memory forever in the form of an illustration, logo, song lyric, etc. But some people wanted to keep a certain internet link on them forever. For many, it could be a code to family photos, a resume, a music video, or even their social media profiles. It’s a tattoo but it’s also completely functional.
“In the ‘90s, people were all about getting barcodes tattooed. Today, they want QR codes they can scan with their phones,” said Gabrielle Pellerone, a tattoo artist. “Many people have also been tattooing QR codes that lead to family photos or other such personal reminders, but this green passcode has a valid social functionality besides being associated with a memory.”
For example, one India-based tattoo artist worked on a code as a romantic gift. “Once, a client wanted to write a love letter for his girlfriend, so he got a romantic song they listened to together as a QR code,” said Vikas Malani. But that is only one of the many stories about this kind of tattoo. 
Link to Instagram
One influencer from Columbia got a QR code tattoo that links to his Instagram. However, the link doesn’t actually work. Tattooing something as intricate as a QR code is extremely difficult, especially with how exact it has to look. However, Mauricio Gomez aka La Liendra staged a video where he showed off his tattoo and “scanned” it to pop up his Instagram page. 
However, it’s unclear if the tattoo ever worked or it stopped working due to some fading or a change in his skin. Both of which should be considered before getting a QR code tattoo; it’s unlikely to work if the skin gets wrinkled, sagged, or stretch — which is bound to happen as time passes. Because of how precise a QR code works, it can be unforgiving to minute changes, giving these tattoos a short life span.
Link to Covid-19 Vaccine Pass
Nowadays, entering a restaurant or similar establishment comes with fumbling around for proof of vaccination card, recent recovery, or a negative Covid-19 test. Not for Andrea Colonnetta in Italy, where the card is needed to enter most indoor venues. The 22-year-old student got the QR code of his pass tattooed on his left arm. He showed off the code in a TikTok video where a friend scanned the code with a phone, and in another clip where he uses the code to enter a Mcdonald’s. 
RickRolling via QR Code
Take functionality away for a moment. One tattoo artist decided to get a QR code tattoo as a prank. The code gets scanned to a YouTube link of the song “Never Gonna Give You Up.” Leonardo Biason worked on the tattoo for his friend Max Mancin.
“The world of tattooing is evolving every day, and the same goes for technology,” said Leonardo Biason. “This type of tattoo creates a closeness between these two worlds.”
Within a few weeks, their video about the tattoo went viral. The internet loved being in on the joke. “We decided to tattoo this song because I’ve always found it funny,” Mancin said. “No one really knows what a QR code leads to, so I think it’s a great way to interact with people.”
Despite the uncertain future relevance of QR codes, Mancin believes the tattoo is still worth it. “I did think about whether with time I would not be able to scan it, but it was more a decision to get something for today,” said Mancin. After all, the significance of the tattoo at this moment will last even when the code becomes unusable.
What QR code would you pick as a tattoo?
Keep Reading: Face Tattoos Are The New Normal
- “People Keep Getting QR Codes Tattooed on Their Body.” Vice. Shamani Joshi. October 12, 2021
- “Columbian Influencer Got QR Code Tattooed on Neck to Open His Instagram Page. But It Doesn’t Work.” News 18. March 8, 2021
- “An Italian student got a COVID-19 vaccine pass tattooed on his arm, and showed it works with scanners.” Business Insider. Anna Medaris Miller. August 23, 2021