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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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    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)