Meet Joel Barkow, Owner of Barkode Props.

Jess from ArtCube Nation
3 min readJan 8, 2021

Each year, Joel rents to hundreds of art departments on film, TV, and commercial sets in the New York area. He has a unique style. Joel is such a heartfelt person who continuously adds a sense of play to his career. He loves collecting props pieces with a story and enjoys the back and forth collaboration in the renting process. He digs in and asks what you’re using the prop or set piece for, what exact era are you shooting in, and then somehow magically has that specific working TV from the 50s that you dreamed up. However, he didn’t start out his career renting props.

When he first moved to New York, he packed up his Mazda with his backpack, and 7 guitars — and then the car blew up. All he had was $35. A great start to New York.

He is a man of many talents and has worked all across the media world from radio to animation inking, working a Purple Rain Tour concert, and stagehand work in theater.

Next, Joel worked with a lot of different photographers and learned the art of tabletop photography. Joel would ask how they fabricated the pieces he saw on sets. This led to multiple jobs as an on-set dresser and assistant prop master, working on many music videos, features, and TV series.

He brought his passion for props to the set of Spin City where he got his first break as the Prop Master. Each week there was a press conference scene that had to be propped with video and still cameras which were hard to come by in NYC. It made him think: at the time a lot of equipment and art were housed in Los Angeles and the cost to ship it in every production was making New York productions even more expensive. Joel saw the opportunity and bought his first video camera as the start to his prop house, Barkode Props.

He started renting his props out of his garage. As he built up his kit, he continued to work on TV and film sets, within the art department.

After Spin City, he worked on Jason Alexander’s directorial debut set in the 1950s and Joel learned just how resourceful he can be. The set took over several streets in a residential part of Staten Island. There was a last minute request for a picnic basket and tablecloth from the 1950s. “I didn’t have it on the truck, so I asked a neighbor if they had it.” Luckily, she had the exact type of set up he needed. She told him that a lot of the families on this street have been there for generations and will have pieces from the 1950s if anything like that ever comes up again — and because it’s a film set, it always does. He needed a period lawnmower; he asked the neighbors and he came back with three choices. From this, he learned that era-specific props can be found in the most unexpected places.

Joel kept collecting more and more props and eventually he stopped working on sets to focus on Barkode Props exclusively. Today, he has multiple warehouses in Greenpoint, and services hundreds of clients per year. He specializes in both vintage and contemporary props, with a strong collection in film and video cameras, working electronics, airport props. He also sources and fabricates props of all kinds that are hard to find.

Joel looks at the story behind every prop. He shares these stories with the designers and decorators that come to Barkode Props. Joel also loves to mentor young creative people who are interested in the field of props. He likes to be surrounded by the young people that he hires who help him make the bustling prop shop deliver its orders.

For Joel, Barkode Props brings together his love of working with the creative team on film and TV sets, and finding the perfect prop to make the scene come to life. He thinks the community at ArtCube is a great network to connect with both up and coming and established artists, decorators, designers, and people in search of props for their art department vision.

If you want to connect with the sincere prop house that focuses on storytelling and world building reach out to Barkode Props. You can connect with other amazing businesses like Barkode by joining ArtCube Nation.



Jess from ArtCube Nation

We are the Film Network for the Art Department called ArtCube Nation. We highlight our artists and how to make films sustainably.