Both tattoos and secret codes may be considered cool in isolation; bring them together and it’s fair to say our heads have been well and truly turned. The latest book from Damon Murray and Stephen Sorrell – aka design studio and publishing imprint FUEL – builds on the huge success of their previous books focusing on Russian tattoos.
Their latest offering is based on the personal archives of Arkady Bronnikov, one of the leading experts in Russian tattoo iconography who spent three decades working for the USSR Ministry of Internal Affairs. His job involved criss-crossing the country to interview and photograph tattooed prisoners and report back on the coded meanings concealed within their body art, thereby giving the authorities an insight into the secret visual language of the criminal fraternity.
The book will feature 180 photographs from Arkady’s amazing collection with explanatory texts outlining the hidden meanings inked onto their bodies. It promises to be a fascinating study that touches on art, politics, criminality and obsession, both in terms of the prisoners and the man tasked with documenting them.
You can check out the Kickstarter video below and pledge money here.