Often for many designers adding barcodes, legalities and other practical aspects can be an afterthought. When these aspects are afterthoughts - the odds are they will have a major negative impact on the overall design. These aspects become to a designer the equivalent of acne - an ugly inconvenience to an otherwise beautiful design. Whilst these aspects can be ugly and disruptive to an otherwise clean design they are also an inevitable addition and they play an important and functional role. In saying that, their commercial nature can seem to be at odds with an artwork. So how can we change this? I believe attention to detail is really the critical aspect that elevates a truly greater designer and design from the average designer and design. This attention to detail must be relentless extending to the back labels and even the barcodes. I don't believe barcodes need to be a burden. In fact, clever solutions can elevate them into becoming a true asset. Following are some clever barcode ideas which will change your perception of barcodes forever and open your mind to the endless possibilities often overlooked.

This first design is one that we recently completed for an African Safari company after considering some of the below lessons that we had learnt from other designers. Not only did we create an interesting twist to the barcode but we used it to make a statement – a call of action – for people to get away from their day to day business and get out and explore the wild!


Following are the clever ideas we learnt from other designers:


BARCODE IDEA ONE: Think outside the box!

Many designers have extended the barcode lines to create truly unique artworks in their own right.

Brilliant Barcode Ideas


BARCODE IDEA TWO: Use the barcode as shading to create unique forms

Many designers have cut away at the top of the barcode – not using it’s specific lines but rather the barcode as a form of shading which can be cut away to create landforms or other unique shapes.

Brilliant Barcode Ideas


BARCODE IDEA THREE: Taking on a whole new dimension

For most of us barcodes couldn’t be more 2D – they are flat black lines on clear white backgrounds but some designers disagree. The treatment of these barcodes create clever illusions of perspective making the traditional 2D form pop into unique 3D forms.

Brilliant Barcode Designs


BARCODE IDEA FOUR: Cutaway all sides to create unique forms


Brilliant Barcode Designs


BARCODE IDEA FIVE: Upside down, side to side and angles

Barcodes scanners are typically mobile and can scan so nothing is really holding back designers to place barcodes on various angles

Brilliant Barcode Designs


BARCODE IDEA SIX: Artwork all around


Brilliant Barcode Design


BARCODE IDEA SEVEN: Artwork over the barcode

Of all of the ideas above this is likely to be the most disruptive to the functionality of the barcode and for obvious reasons. Some designers have used it to great effect though.

Brilliant Barcode Designs

Whilst there are some great opportunities with barcodes it should also be noted that they do have a functional purpose so one should also be considerate not to make them too abstract or to have the artwork dominate as to hamper with its performance. In saying that, get creative – there are thousands of opportunities in the art of barcodes.