The SurREAL WORLD • Written by Bobby Boykin
A young child in a small town outside of Prague, in the Czech Republic, witnesses a train pass by covered in graffiti and street art, his mind is captivated, his intrigue is high, and the evolution of one of today’s great color realism tattoo artists begins to take shape. Igor Mitrenga remembers that day clearly, the train and detail of the artwork remain fresh in his mind, it is like a moment frozen in time for him, influential in all of his artistic creations to this very day.
Following this life changing experience, Igor recalls embracing his new found fetish for street art and, like a good young graffiti artist would do, he makes use of blank stickers by writing his nickname on them, and putting them up everywhere he possibly can throughout his school. Igor’s progression as a street artist was completely fluid, and he quickly progressed to painting his very first wall at the young age of 16. “I was scared, and at the same time I felt an indescribable feeling,” Igor reflects, “I went back to watch everyday, and thought about how I could make it better the next time.” So, what was the next step for teenage Igor? Trains. Igor had obtained a true affection for graffiti and he absolutely loved the fact that, when his art is on a train, it is a traveling creative expression of his very own for the world to see.
The obsession was real. Igor was painting whenever and wherever he possibly could. This meant constant road trips with friends throughout Europe to let the world see his artistic capabilities. “We drove to paint all over Europe. If I was not painting five days a week I had a feeling that I was missing out.”
For Igor, tattooing became another instant love in his life from the moment that first tattoo machine hit his hand. One of the biggest factors for this artistic transformation was the allure that his artwork could not be washed away, it would now be on display forever. Although the artist had changed his instruments, this didn’t change the view or creative process that Igor had obtained through years as a dedicated street artist. Igor starts his tattoo idea’s on a wall with paint, just as he would have done years ago when hitting a train in a random European city on any given night. “I view it as a higher level of graffiti… I start my designs on a wall and then transfer it to skin, this way you can really see the street art in my tattoos.”
One of the greatest qualities about Igor is his desire to grow, which is somewhat unique, considering the unbelievable level of skill his tattoo’s exhibit. He is just as hungry as he was after seeing that very first train covered in art when he was 10 years old. Just as hungry as he was after his initial tattoo venture, which was performed on his own skin. And in this day and age it is sometimes difficult to find artists at his level who still have that deep yearning to learn and grow as an artist. Igor’s “specific view on life and art as a whole,” is one that has been developed through street art, a vast hunger, and a willingness to remain teachable. “There are so many artists throughout the world that are doing great things,” Igor says, “it gives me strength to keep going. Inspiration and art are all around.”
Igor’s color realism pieces will make your mind wonder if what you are seeing is actually a tattoo, they are that good. The color bursts off the skin just as it would if it were flying out of a fresh can of paint. When you look at his intricate and masterfully designed pieces, the flowers, people, characters, artistic tools, and all features look so real that it’s almost surreal. He is, unquestionably, one of the most prodigious tattooers in the world, an authentic artist, and a true student of his profession.