9 Jan 2011

QR Codes and Artists…Say What?

Posted by Moshe Mikanovsky

This article was published on FineArtViews blog on December 30, 2010

QR Codes and Artists…Say What?

by Moshe Mikanovsky

This article  is by Moshe Mikanovsky, Regular contributing writer for FineArtViews.  An emerging artist searching his way in the art world, he loves to share what he learns.  With over 20 years of technology experience, Moshe combines his technological background and his passion for the arts with the goal of “working his dream”.  You should submit an article and share your views as a guest author by clicking here.

There is exactly one day left for 2010 before we drop that big ball in Time Square and welcome 2011. Can we squeeze in one more piece of information? I think we can! So today I wanted to share with you one piece of recently new technology which I think can be very useful for all of us.

The QR Codes.

Say what?

Yes, QR Codes. Here is one for example. Do you know what it says?

These are the little strange looking squarish abstract mumbo-jumbo black and white pieces of nothingness that we have started seeing lately in news papers and other printed material. First, I had no idea what they were and there were no instructions on how to use them in the daily paper I got on my way to work. But then one day, I realized, I don’t even remember how or where, that these are bar codes for mobiles and that people can use their cam-enabled cell phones to scan the little codes and get more information online, immediately.


But the power of this technology didn’t yet click in, until, one day, I entered a Starbucks downtown, and there it was – a wall covered with a local artist’s work and between all the paintings, one page with a QR Code. Here is the idea – anyone using a smart phone with a camera and the proper application to read a QR Code, can scan it right there and open the artist’s website. No need to key in anything. Shoot-and-surf. And from that point, the entire artist’s presence online is available for the new visitor. Not just the artwork on the walls in front of him, but the artist’s bio, contact information, other artwork and basically any information the artist has on his site.

So, I decided to try it myself. I finally got my work to be presented in a nice espresso bar in uptown Toronto and I decided to go with it. I used the QR Code in a couple of places. First, I created a small poster (just a standard 8.5”x11”) with a large size QR Code encoded with my web site and below that my name and website address. I wanted to capture people’s attention with its size, yet not overwhelm or distract my artwork. You can see for yourself what I mean in the following photo. And if you have a smart phone with QR Code reader, why not try it for yourself and see where it takes you?


The second thing I did was 4”x6” cards, inserted in a clear acrylic picture frames (from the dollar store), and displayed them on the café’s bar and some of the tables. One side had an image of my artwork, and the other side had all my websites, each presented both in clear text and as QR Code. Here is what I am talking about:


This way, people sitting down to drink their coffee and have a strudel with it, can immediately scan any of my sites’ code and visit it instantly. No waiting for them to get home and forget about it on the way. No delay. What’s better than that?

Now, to make a QR Code there are hundreds of sites and utilities out there, and most are free. Here is one useful link: http://qrcode.kaywa.com. You can generate URLs, Text messages, Phone numbers or SMS. Basically any text you would like.

As for applications on your smart phone to read the codes, there are many of them, and they vary amongst the different phones you have. All you have to do is search in your app store for QR Code reader.

The skies are really the limit as it goes with new technologies. I have seen artists using QR Code as their medium or subject matter. You can put them on your business cards or post cards. Anywhere you want.

Are you using a QR Code already? Can you see other usages for it? And of course, what is the hidden message in the first example above?


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