Tattoo Artist Gets Qreative

Tattoos are great! They can represent an important affiliation, we use them to remember the dead and sometimes they even give a person an edgy appearance. I don’t have one myself. I’ve always wanted one, but I’m not too big on blood, even my own. Have you ever seen the episode of Futurama where the character Amy gets an animated tattoo of a little devil head? It’s too bad there aren’t really animated tattoos.

Or at least there weren’t until now!

On June 16, 2011, Paris tattoo artist K.A.R.L. created the first animated tattoo by using 2D barcode technology. Fortunately for us all, he recorded a video of himself giving the tattoo for us all to appreciate. No, the tattoo can’t move or make noise without the use of a smartphone app, but it’s still pretty cool, huh?

The best part is: you can link a code to a URL, not to specific content. What this means is you can change the information on that URL. If you got a QR tattoo that linked to your significant other’s name and then the relationship didn’t work out, you could change what the code will display when scanned.

However, I feel the risks far outweigh the coolness factor.


  • You need to have a very trustworthy tattoo artist with great attention to detail. The squares need to be perfect or else the code won’t scan and you’ll have a strange, non-functional shape permanently drawn on your body.
  • Marco in the video did not get a standard QR Code tattoo but rather an EZ code, which can only be read with my [favorite] app, ScanLife. If you were to get a tattoo that needed a specific program to run, you are risking losing functionality eventually. No one will be able to scan your tattoo if the company shuts its doors down the road.
  • As the article states, had Marco gotten a true QR code tattooed to his body, it would have needed to be ten centimeters wide in order to function properly. Do you really want to give up that much of your skin for a square tattoo?
  • While I like to believe QR code have a home in our society for quite some time, it is likely the technology will vanish in our lifetimes. Consider how long the code will be usable. Even if the tattoo is still in immaculate condition, the day will come when no one has a reader.

I certainly won’t be getting a QR tattoo. I’ve said my piece, but if you feel it’s worth it I certainly won’t stop you. In fact, I’d be interested in seeing your code tattoo. Send me a pic and if I get enough, maybe I’ll start an online gallery. 

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