You are looking forward to getting a tattoo. It could be your first one or the next one. And you certainly want it to be a unique one.
And you’re tech-savvy too. So a tattoo that’s both unique and hi-tech will be perfect for you. And a QR Code tattoo is just what you need here.
It will be more than a design that meets the eye. A tattoo that interacts with people. A tattoo that gets them to respond by taking action.
But before you go ahead to get a QR Code tattoo, you must know what are the best practices. Keep reading to know what it means.
A. Things to know before getting a QR Code tattoo
You know that QR Codes are 2D barcodes that store alphanumeric information. And this information is stored in the dots of their intricate design (data modules).
So it is important to make sure that your tattoo scans well.
In addition, the content in your QR Code should be permanent. Yes, this content can expire too.
And you certainly wouldn’t want to be stuck with a tattoo that is not scannable. Or the one that doesn’t show the target content.
So here are three things that you should know before getting a QR Code tattoo:
1. Make sure you hire an expert tattoo artist
You will obviously want a skilled artist to do the job. And that’s important too. Why?
A QR Code is made up of a matrix of dots (also called data modules). And these dots store the target data.
When a scanner reads a QR Code, it counts on each one of these dots. That means every dot is important.
Hence, your tattoo artist must have the expertise to ink each of them in place.
So ask her if she knows how QR Codes work. If she has ever made QR Code tattoos before. And what is her success rate in getting a QR Code tattoo that scans well.
Remember that for QR Codes, it’s not only about getting a design that looks good but also works well.
2. Choose permanent content
You’d want your tattoo to remain functional and meaningful always. So you must ensure that it is free of all the liabilities. What does that mean?
Choose permanent content rather than the temporary one. For example—say you’ve encoded a website link in your QR Code. Ten years later, the website is no longer existent. Your QR Code will then become useless.
It’s like getting a tattoo of your girlfriend’s name and then breaking up with her a year later.
To avoid such situations, you must choose static content.
It means content that will be encoded directly into your QR Code. And we call it—a static QR Code.
A static QR Code is permanent in nature. Once you create it, you cannot edit it. And it remains functional forever.
It is unlike a Dynamic QR Code that can be edited anytime you want. That means, it is not permanent. And if your QR Code generator shuts in the future, your QR Code will become non-functional too.
So what you can do is—rather than encoding content such as a website address, go for simple text in a static QR Code. It can be anything that matters to you. For example—a quote, life motto, or your mother’s name.
In fact, many people have been tattooing QR codes that take the end-users to family photos or other such personal memories.
3. Make sure your QR Code is highly scannable
You’ve seen barcodes. They don’t get scanned once they get damaged, right? But that’s not the case with QR Codes.
Yes, QR Codes remain scannable even after wear and tear. That’s why they’re used in inventory tracking.
But remember—QR Codes can sustain damage only up to 30%. And it’s in your hands to ensure maximum scannability. There are three ways to do it:
a. Add error correction to your QR Code
QR Codes have the property of error correction. That’s exactly what helps them remain scannable despite damage or dirt. And there are four levels of error correction:
- Level L: sustains up to 7% damage
- Level M: sustains up to 15% damage
Note that you must keep the error correction level at least H while creating the QR Code for your tattoo.
- Level H: sustains up to 25% damage
- Level V: sustains up to 30% damage
In fact, error correction is what helps you add a logo to your QR Code design. How?
An error is introduced by removing some data modules from the center of the QR Code. And then an image is inserted in this space.
Now the question is—why is error correction important here? Well, because your skin and hence, the tattoo is expected to change with age.
So choose a QR Code generator that helps you add error correction to your QR Code design.
b. Get the tattoo on a flat body surface
You know that a scanner will have to read each dot (data module) to decode the QR Code. And a curved body surface will not let the scanners read each one of these dots.
So avoid curved body surfaces such as your leg, neck, or arm. And choose the ones that are relatively flat. For example—your back, your inner wrist, upper chest, back of the arm, and the flat area of your thigh.
c. Ensure enough color contrast
A standard QR Code is black on a white background. Why do you think is that so?
Well—to ensure color contrast. This is important for the scannability of a QR Code.
While error correction allows you to add a logo and colors to your QR Code, you still have to ensure good contrast between QR Code and the background.
Hence, if you have a light colored skin, go for darker shades of the QR Code. And similarly, if you have a darker skin tone, go for lighter shades of QR Code.
d. Adequate QR Code size and scanning distance
The QR Code size and the distance between the QR Codes and the scanner (smartphone) are important for its scannability.
And for that, you need a QR Code of the right size and the scanner at the right distance. That’s because the ideal scanning distance directly depends on the size of the QR Code.
For example, a QR Code that’s 2cm X 2cm in size, won’t be scannable from 100 cm away.
Sounds fair, right? But you cannot rely on guesstimates all the time. So, for your convenience, you can calculate the right size of the QR Code via a basic rule.
The ratio of scanning distance to the QR Code’s size should be close to 10:1. That means if a QR Code is to be scanned from 100 cm away, it must be at least 10 cm wide.
You now know the QR Code tattoo best practices. And the next step is—to create a QR Code online. And to do that, you need an online QR Code generator.
B. How to choose a QR Code generator
To create a QR Code, you’ll need an online QR Code generator. And to choose one, you must first know what all features do you want it to have. For example—does it allow you to design your QR Codes?
Now there are many free QR Code generators out there. But they usually don’t allow you to add design to your QR Codes.
And to do that, you’ll need an advanced QR Code generator which is often paid. So if you do a quick Google search on ‘QR Code generator’, you’ll see pages of results.
How do you then decide which one is the best for your use case? Maybe by comparing them. But comparing each one of them one-by-one will be a tedious process.
So we’ve compiled a detailed comparison chart for the top online QR Code generators. You can simply go through it to decide the best one for your use case.
Once you decide on which QR Code generator you’ll use, the next step is to create a QR Code.
C. How to create a QR Code for tattoo
Using Scanova for a demo, here’s how you can create one:
1. Go to Scanova QR Code generator and create an account to start with your 14-day free trial.
2. From All Categories, choose a QR Code category
3. For a demo, let’s create a Simple Text QR Code. So select the Simple Text category
4. Enter the text that you wish to encode in the QR Code
5. Click Continue
6. A window will appear prompting you to name and save the QR Code. Enter a name and click Save
7. Next, you’ll see two QR Code designs on the screen—custom with logo and custom with a background.
You can use either of the design for your tattoo. You can create your tattoo in standard design (black-and-white) without editing it.
8. Once your QR Code is ready, say after you design it, click on Done Editing and proceed to download it.
9. Again you’ll see a window prompting you to specify QR Code image size and format. Once you specify the details, click Export
That’s it. Your QR Code has now been downloaded. Make sure you scan it to check if it’s working fine.
Once you’re sure that it scans well, head on to a tattoo artist to get the QR Code inked.
D. Should You Do It?
A QR Code tattoo is an awesome and tech-savvy attraction. And it can be very useful if you are using it for your personal brand. How?
Suppose someone asks for your business card and you tell them to simply scan the QR Code at your wrist with their smartphone. How convenient and tech-savvy it would be for both of you.
Such an experience will ensure that they will never forget it. This will help you put one hell of a first impression. And you will be pleased with the impact.
That’s all you need to know about a QR Code Tattoo. From creating the QR Code to hiring a tattoo artist, each step is important to make your tattoo functional forever.
So if you’re a tech-lover or want a unique tattoo design that people can engage with, a QR Code Tattoo is your way to go. It will not only be interesting to look at but will also remain meaningful forever.
Still have any queries? Ask them in the comments.
25 replies on “QR Code Tattoo: Best Practices And Everything You Need To Know”
Going to try this out. Will let you know how it goes… Thanks for sharing
So do you have one Gautam?
No Hayden. I do not have one personally. But I do understand how QR Codes work and their related challenges. Hence the help article.
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
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.
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.
This is a little late for a reply.
You can use services like tiny.cc (this is not spam, just an example) that allows you to make ‘redirecting links’. The way it works is that you can make a custom link under their domain, then change where it ‘redirects (or goes)’ anytime you want without changing the custom link itself. So that if you make a QR code out of that link, you can change where it goes without changing the QR code itself.
Thanks for the info, good stuff. I’m looking into getting a Bitcoin address QR code.
Glad that you found the article helpful.
Yes this is possible if you wish to edit the webpage the QR Code redirects to. However, if tiny.cc goes out of business (say after 10-15 years), the QR Code tattoo will not work.
Getting your id (aadhar) tattooed kinda dope and good
Love to read glowing articles such as this. keep up the good work
We are glad you liked the articles.
Great information! Thanks for sharing these amazing facts.
We are glad you liked the article.
Nice to have wonderful article on QR Code tattoos and thanks for informing people about it.
We’re glad you liked it.
Good idea, I don’t know how it’s working but I am going to try to find out more about QR code tattoo. because I am also running a tattoo studio may be it will helpful to my business. good information.
We’re glad you found it helpful.
What’s the smallest size of a QR tattoo to be scanned well?
And is a good idea to tattoo a dynamic QR despite of it may not last forever?
PD: Great and usefull article!
You can refer to this article to get information on the appropriate size of QR Code: https://scanova.io/blog/qr-code-minimum-size/
You may get yourself tattooed with a dynamic QR Code. The only problem is that if the encoded content (such as the website link) expires or shuts down in the future, you’ll be left with a non-functional QR Code.
Hey Jake, I want to do it too but im a little hesitant did go well? Does the tattoo still function?
Hey jake, I want to try this out can you tell me if it went well?
what about a song?
Yes, you can add a song into the QR Code but note that the QR Code will be dynamic in nature.
Hope this helps.
If desired, can I utilize UV tat ink to make one that is unseen in regular light, but has proper functional contrast for scanning when exposed to UV?
Also, has this been done with Henna tats for a temporary use?