Imagine, a slide show of your paintings being instantly delivered to a potential collector’s Smartphone. By using a “tag” you can make that vision and more a reality.

“What’s a tag you ask?”

Simply put, it’s a barcode that can be placed on anything you do in print!  Once it is scanned with a smart phone, it instantly delivers a message. You could link people to a slide show of your art, videos, virtual tours, or a lecture excerpt just by using a tag.

A Tag Reader is a free Microsoft application which available for a variety of Smartphones. Using your Smartphone, go to to download the Tag Reader and try it out with your Smartphone on the tags below.

“How does the Tag  Reader work?”

After the ‘reader’ is downloaded, the camera on your phone turns into a scanner. The lens will detect the code which  will trigger the information to be displayed – amazing!

  • With over 2 billion tags already in existence, millions of people have already downloaded the free Microsoft Tag Reader and are using it.
  • With over 49.1 million smart phones in use today in the US more than 50% of US homes own one or more smart phone and are using this technology to browse, shop and gather information. Consumers are realizing that when they hold their smart phone over the tag, the digital information or video content appears in the smart phone window.
  • 50% of US homes own one or more Smartphones.
  • Many museums, galleries, art magazines and tech savvy artists are already using these Tags.
  • No typing a URL or texting, waiting for a response – in an instant your message appears – driving it deeper into the hands of your potential buyer at the moment it makes the most sense.
  • These tags are helping print media stay current! Over 100 million magazines have carried tags since August 2010.

An example of what a ‘Tag Reader’ looks like in a print magazine: (in the lower right-hand corner)

Here are a few examples of tags to try out on your own Smartphone:

Black and White Standard
Most recognizable and commonly used in publications 7/8 “

Color Standard
a Southwestern style with the Smallest footprint 3/4 “

Custom Image Tag
Image is placed behind the code. 1.2”

Mobile is important for a number of reasons:

  • It has an immediacy that consumers expect.
  • It provides a portal from the real world to digital content.

To be successful the mobile activity has to follow some best practices:

  • The activity must be engaging.
  • The content must be relevant.
  • There must be a call to action.

Tags are already being used by museums, galleries and your peers. A couple of best practices include:

  • Providing Fast Access to More Information.
    • A tag can help you provide far more information than could possibly fit on exhibition signage, and it can help you expose digital content in a way that can be consumed by visitors on their mobile phones.
    • More information gives them a stronger connection to you and an incentive to purchase.
  • Keeping people engaged after the main event: You might let people scan a tag as they exit to be added to your mailing list.

Is mobile marketing a trend or just “fly by trendy”?

  • From my research, I think that this is the next “thing”. Think back to when the Internet was introduced and you may have wondered, “do I really need to have a website? Does a digital footprint even matter?”
  • We all know how important that move was to business. Now you have an opportunity to attach your digital presence to your print materials. This is still new enough to garner word of mouth excitement yet it is also established enough for anyone to piggyback off of the successful adoption of the technology.
  • Over 100 million magazines since August 2010 have carried tags in their advertisements and editorials.

As ambassadors of the arts, it is important that we continue to nurture and engage our society in the appreciation of fine art. I am a believer that art tag technology is a tool that will invigorate and sustain the cultural community.


Carolyn “Charlie” Bogusz is the owner of Primary Colors Consulting, providing coaching and marketing services to the arts industry. For additional information on tag marketing and developing your own tag, contact her at


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Lori McNee

Lori McNee is a professional artist who specializes in still life, and landscape oil paintings. She is an exhibiting member of Oil Painters of America, Plein Air Painters of Idaho, serves on the Plein Air Mag Board of Advisors, and is an Artist Ambassador to Arches/Canson/Royal Talens. As the owner of, Lori blogs about fine art tips, marketing, and social media advice for the aspiring and professional artist. As a social media influencer, Lori ranks as one of the Top 100 Most Powerful Women on Twitter, has been featured in the Wall Street Journal and named a #TwitterPowerhouse by The Huffington Post. She is a keynote speaker, has been a talk show host for Plum TV, writes for F+W Media publications including Artist’s Magazine, Artist’s & Graphic Designer’s Market, Photographer’s Market. Also, Zero to 100,000: Social Media Tips & Tricks for Small Businesses. Lori is also a member of the CBS Entertainment Tonight & The Insider Tweet Team.

16 thoughts on “How to Use Smartphones to Market Your Art

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  3. Tom Hlas says:

    What great information and a great marketing idea. I have heard of QC codes but never of these tags. I have an iPhone so I don’t know if the reader will work on it or not. But I’ll check it out. It’s worth looking into anything so close to our fingertips to help promote our art. While some of us artists may not be too technically inclined, a lot of people (buyers) out there are extremely tech savvy. So let’s meet them on their ground.

    • Lori McNee says:

      Yes, this is very true. And before we know it, Smartphones will be in more households than computers. I am glad this article is being well received by my readers. If any of you try out these tag readers, I’d love to hear about it!


  4. Betty Pieper says:

    Thanks. I don’t even have a web site but if I had done this with a recent
    exhibit perhaps it would have helped. One viewer even said to me, “Oh,
    I would have loved it if you had little narratives about each painting next
    to them.” I probably looked a bit aghast, thinking, “Gee, isn’t my work supposed
    to speak for itself?” and she replied, “You know the way musuems do…”
    I still didn’t quite “get it”, but she said she was pleased to hear about the backgrounds,
    motivations of a couple of the paintings, and I continued to think about how I could
    provide more of that if I were not physically there. Your idea of QC codes or tags
    would enable that, I think.
    I like your work and appreciate that I see your name so often in support of your
    fellow/sister artists, Lori. The posts I like most from everyone are the ones that
    make us think and expand. While I don’t see an immediate way that I – Luddite
    and poor – that I am – can use this, I see all kinds of possibilities for others!

    • Lori McNee says:

      How interesting Betty. Thanks for sharing your experience. I have not used the tag readers in my personal art marketing at this point either. But, I do have a Smartphone and will plan to try it in the near future.

      It is fun and helpful to hear the feedback! Cheers-

  5. Charlie Bogusz says:

    Exhibition signage is one of the great applications of the technology! Think of other “off the easel” applications:
    1) on the label on the back of your paintings as a “digital thank you” or new available works
    2) on your business cards with link to a video of your studio
    3) coupon for a special offer ( notecards etc) for an upcoming exhibition

    The key to the marketing is that it has to be engaging, relevant and have a call to action. I can help you build a “microsite” which is important in ensuring the technology is optimized for all smart phones and tab readers.

    Let me know if I can answer any more questions!

  6. ian says:

    A brilliant idea. I see no reason why what you link to has to be constant. It could be the latest page of your blog, a slide show of your art, details of a current project, held in a fixed location but with varying content.

  7. Beth Gray says:

    If I don’t have a smartphone, but want to create multiple tags to be placed on multiple print publications, how/where do I go online (presumably) to do such? I can see this being utilized in all aspects of my work at a community college.

    thanks for any help!


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