You are thinking about getting a QR Code Tattoo. Or you have already decided to get one. You love tattoos and you love technology, so a QR Code Tattoo make perfect sense. A tattoo that people can engage with. A tattoo that is so much more than what meets the eye.

But before you take the plunge, there are 3 things you must know. So take notes because if taken lightly, your QR Code may end up becoming only a design with no functionality.

qr code tattoo

(Image Courtesy nerdron.blogspot.com)

1. Hire an expert tattoo artist

This may seem obvious to you but its not.

A QR Code is made up of a matrix of dots. The scanner is counting on each dot to decode the data. So each dot is important. Your tattoo artist must have the skills to ensure that each dot is in the right place.

Ask your tattoo artist if she understands how QR Codes work. Ask her if she has made QR Code tattoos before. What is her success rate in getting a QR Code Tattoo that is easily scannable?

Remember with QR Code Tattoos, its not just about how the design looks but also if it works or not.

2. Choose permanent content

If you want your QR Code to work forever then you need to make it independent of any liabilities. For example, if you link it to a website and the website is no longer existent after 20 years, then your QR Code becomes useless. It’s like getting a tattoo of your girlfriend’s name and then breaking up with her after a year.

So choose static content. Content like simple text that will be coded directly into your tattoo. No websites, no redirection links, and no internet required.

The text could be anything that is meaningful to you – a quote, life motto, your mom’s name, etc.

3. Ensure high scannability

Unlike 1D barcodes, the advantage with QR Codes is that it can remain functional even after some wear and tear. But even then, it is important to ensure maximum scannability. Here are a few ways of doing that:

a. Add Error Correction

Error correction data is added to QR Codes to maintain scannability in cases of wear and tear. Since a QR Code Tattoo design is expected to change with age, it is recommended that you add error correction to your QR Code design.

You can add error correction by choosing a QR Code Generator that provides this option (such as Scanova). We recommend to keep the error correction level to ‘High (H)’.

b. Get the tattoo on a flat area

A smartphone QR Code scanning application will only be able to scan the code if it can read every dot. Now this won’t be possible if your QR Code Tattoo is on a curved surface such as your arm, leg, neck, or butt cheek.

Choose an area that is relatively flat in nature such as your back, the back of your arm, forehead (if thats acceptable to you), or the flat area of your thigh.

c. Contrast to skin color

If you have noticed, a standard QR Code is black on a white background. Now error correction allows it to be colored and designer, but there should be considerable contrast between the skin color and the color of the QR Code tattoo.

So if you have a light coloured skin then ensure that your QR Code Tattoo is dark in color. For those with darker skin tone, you can try adding color to the tattoo to give it contrast. Consult with your tattoo artist on the possibilities.

Thats all you need to know. Get started by first creating the QR Code you want to want as your tattoo.


Create your own QR Code Tattoo design

Create a visually-appealing QR Code design for your next tattoo using the Scanova QR Code Code Generator. Free Trial.
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Still have questions? Ask in the comments section below.

Gautam Garg is a Co-founder of Scanova. He is a QR Code enthusiast and a big fan of inbound marketing, CRO, and usability. When taking a break, he likes to travel solo and eat spicy food. Follow him on Twitter @GGarg88

  • Jake Vartanian

    Going to try this out. Will let you know how it goes… Thanks for sharing

    • FTZ

      So, how it went?

  • So do you have one Gautam?

    • scanovatech

      No Hayden. I do not have one personally. But I do understand how QR Codes work and their related challenges. Hence the help article.

  • Donyk

    You’re saying “So choose static content. Content like simple text that will be coded
    directly into your tattoo. No websites, no redirection links, and no
    internet required.”
    But then it’d not be possible to change the content of the webpage, right? I’m no expert in webdesign, but would it be possible to own the domain of a webpage “for ever” and link the QR code to it? So that one could change the content of the page as he/she wishes.

    • scanovatech

      Hi Donyk,

      Website domains are provided by authorized sellers (like GoDaddy) for an annual fee. You need to pay for the domain every year or every 5-years to own the domain for that period. Failure to pay the fee will result in someone else buying their domain or it being a unused domain. If you believe you can keep paying for this domain for a long period (say 70 years if you are 30) to keep your tattoo functioning, then it is an okayish idea.

      Then again, it is possible that the format of how website addresses are written may change in about 10 years. For example: http://www.donyk.com may become https://donyk.c. If this happens, and you have encoded the older format in your QR Code, it won’t work.

      My recommendation is that if you want to get a QR Code tattoo, do it for the design. The function (actual decoding of the data) is questionable, particularly after 5-10 years.

      Hope this helps.