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A new book featuring incredible photographs of Russian prisoners tattoos and their coded meanings collected from Soviet Police files.
A new book featuring incredible photographs of Russian prisoners tattoos and their coded meanings collected from Soviet Police files.
234 backers pledged £9,907 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

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Arkady Bronnikov is regarded as Russia’s leading expert on tattoo iconography. He was a senior expert in criminalistics at the USSR Ministry of Internal Affairs for over thirty years. As part of his work he visited many correctional institutions of the Ural and Siberia regions where he interviewed, gathered information and took photographs of convicts. During this time he collected thousands of photographs of tattooed prisoners. 

Arkady Bronnikov
Arkady Bronnikov

This book features over 180 incredible photographs of Russian prisoners tattoos from the collection of Arkady Bronnikov. Russian criminal tattoos have coded meanings which this book documents, revealing the hidden language of the criminal world.

FUEL are Damon Murray and Stephen Sorrell, a graphic design and publishing company based in east London. We publish beautiful and distinctive books including several on Russian culture. Our most popular books are the Russian Criminal Tattoo Encyclopaedia Volumes I–III. With the original drawings and photographs from these books we formed the Russian Criminal Tattoo Archive. This has become a valuable resource on our website where anyone can discover more about this fascinating subculture. 

What makes this publication unique is that the Russian Criminal Tattoo Police Files will be available exclusively on our website. This is your opportunity to be a part of this collectable publication and help to fund the printing cost. Beautifully designed in the same format as our other Tattoo books, this will be a hardback with a dust jacket. There will be a 48 page essay section printed on pink coloured paper plus 208 pages of stunning, original police tattoo photographs and their meanings. The proposed publication date is mid September 2014.

A mock-up of the finished book
A mock-up of the finished book

Risks and challenges

To make this book possible we have already travelled to Russia to meet Arkady Bronnikov. We brought back his collection of photographs to the UK and had them professionally scanned. His research papers have been translated and we have started to edit the work into book form. In publishing the printing costs are always the biggest obstacle. We need enough backers to complete the project and produce this spectacular publication.

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FAQ

  • Yes.

    All the images are different and all the information has been collated by Arkady Bronnikov independently from the authors and contributors to the Encyclopaedia series.
    This book consists entirely of photographs taken by the Soviet police for the purposes of identifying the meaning of the criminal tattoos. They were not taken by a professional photographer (like Sergei Vasiliev in the Encyclopaedia series). The photographs here are not embellished by any idea of artistry, they were meant to be used for purely documentary purposes. Almost incidentally, they portray an unprecedented view into the lives of criminals. First and foremost by the tattoos themselves, but also in their characters: the way they hold themselves before the camera, their submissive or defiant attitudes.

    This book is the same format as the as the Encyclopaedia series, and fits perfectly into that collection. It contains new material which builds on the subject in the same detailed fashion. As with that series there is a small amount of overlap between the information contained in each book, this is inevitable when they are dealing with the same subject. However, this volume is based entirely on a functional police perspective (rather than that of an individual prison guard in the case of Baldaev). For example, the book also contains detailed anatomical diagrams showing how to identify the placement of a tattoo on the body, and different face characteristics for identification purposes.

    In short, this book builds on the Encyclopaedia series, and works as an essential companion to it.

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  • No.

    At FUEL Publishing we are interested in the quality of print and the printed book as an object. It's because of this that we put so much effort into our books. We carefully select all the materials we use, make numerous dummies, check rounds of proofs and even travel to the plant in China to oversee their production. Anyone who has bought one of our Russian Criminal Tattoo Encyclopaedia books can see that they are beautifully made quality items. After going through this process to make such a collectable book, to produce a pdf version would be counter productive.

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  • No.

    The books will not be signed by Arkady Bronnikov as unfortunatley it is very expensive and time consuming to transport books to Russia and back. If you would like your book(s) to be signed by the designers and editors (Damon Murray and Stephen Sorrell) then please just let us know and we'll be happy to do it.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge £5 or more About $8

    Six Russian Criminal Tattoo Police Files postcards

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    Pledge £25 or more About $41

    A copy of the book with a special Russian Criminal Tattoo rubber stamp unique to Kickstarter Backers on the title page. One Russian Criminal Tattoo Police Files postcard.

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    Pledge £35 or more About $58

    Advance copy of the book sent 6 weeks ahead of publication, rubber stamped. Six Russian Criminal Tattoo Police Files postcards.

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    Pledge £40 or more About $66

    Six Russian Criminal Tattoo Police Files posters. A3 size. Invitation to the book launch.

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    Pledge £45 or more About $75

    Limited Edition Slipcase - a copy of the book, rubber stamped in a black slipcase with black foil blocking. Six Russian Criminal Tattoo Police Files postcards. Invitation to the book launch.

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    Pledge £45 or more About $75

    Two copies of the book with a special Russian Criminal Tattoo rubber stamp unique to Kickstarter Backers on the title page. Two Russian Criminal Tattoo Police Files postcards.

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    Pledge £60 or more About $99

    A copy of the book, rubber stamped. Six Russian Criminal Tattoo Police Files postcards. Six A3 Russian Criminal Tattoo Police Files posters. Invitation to the book launch.

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    Pledge £90 or more About $149

    Russian Criminal Tattoo Encyclopaedia Volume I, II and III plus a copy of Russian Criminal Tattoo Police Files, rubber stamped. Six Russian Criminal Tattoo Police Files postcards. Invitation to the book launch.

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Funding period

- (30 days)