Results tagged “russian prison tattoo”
Screen shot from The History Channel's "Marked."
Over at Tattoo Artist Magazine, Nicki recently posted this video (embedded below) of an episode from The History Channel's "Marked", which focuses on Russian prison tattoos -- the heavy symbolism, gritty technique, and complex underworld structure associated with them. It's an interesting 45-minute close-up at this segment of tattoo culture. However, I have to note that my favorite film on the subject remains Alix Lambert's "The Mark of Cain," which is available for purchase online.
The "Marked" series, and its look at the seedier side of tattoos, are geared for a wider audience, driven by TV storytelling than in-depth research, and yet, the episodes offer more than just pure entertainment and are worth the watch. If you're looking for a holiday gift, the Season 1 box set of "Marked" could be a good bet.
But if you're looking for inspiration for your next tattoo, I say skip the mob markings, and look to more artful -- and safer -- designs.
First up in the N+S Holiday Gift Guide are local Brooklyn, NYC clothing designers who pay tribute to tattoos of the prison kind.
Check out Russian Criminal Tattoo apparel.
Roman Belenky, co-owner of the company, whose father bares marks from his own time as a prisoner in Russia, has redrawn many of the traditional symbols from the 50s and 60s and exhibits them on quality American Apparel tees, hoodies, and dresses. Roman is quick to point out on his Etsy store that none of the designs are affiliated with any criminal organization or code. So you won't get your ass kicked in Brighton Beach.
The coolest part is that the stories behind the designs are found on each product page. For example, the Lenin portrait with BOP underneath comes with this explanation:
"This particular one was a popular anti-authority tattoo but it has double meaning as do many other tattoos from that era. The letters underneath Lenin spell VOR, the Russian word for thief (which Lenin definitely was). But the letters are also an acronym that stand for Leader of October Revolution. So if an inmate was hassled by administration, he could always state that he was just really patriotic."
I have the "Free Woman" dress in black symbolizing "a woman that did not belong to any gang and followed only her own rules inside and outside of prison." It washes great and the silk-screening stays fresh.
You can custom make your own Russian Criminal Tattoo clothes as well. Check out the designs available here, choose a fave or faves and the item you want them on, and you'll get a price quote back.
And the prices are VERY reasonable, especially considering they print on American Apparel. Tees will run you about $20, dresses $35, and hoodies (front, back and sleeve design) for $50.
For design, quality, price and cool concept, Russian Criminal Tattoo apparel is our first Holiday Gift Guide pick.
* Alix Lambert's The Mark of Cain DVD
* Also by Lambert, Russian Prison Tattoos paperback