Barcode was released in 2004 in an edition of 750, with 150 signed and 600 unsigned prints. Barcode was used in other works such as Barcode Shark and as album cover art. The artwork was originally stencilled on a residential home on Pembroke Road in Bristol. Another rendition of Barcode was displayed as a part of Banksy’s exhibition Existencilism in Los Angeles, numbered 1 of 5.
Barcode is a monochromatic screen print depicted in Banksy’s idiosyncratic stencil style, showing a leopard walking into the foreground of the image, leaving behind a cage that was prised open and resembles a commercial barcode. The artist frequently uses animals as symbols for the working classes, such as in the works Laugh Now and in the infamous Rat series. The leopard can be seen as a similar representation of everyday people breaking free from the exploitative conditions of consumerism, while the barcode is a direct reference to capitalism.
Another interpretation sees the leopard as a symbol for individuality, where the barcode represents mainstream culture, homogeneity and mass production.