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Trash Polka Tattoos, Meanings and History

The Trash Polka tattoo style is a breakaway tattoo style that is bold and stands out. So what exactly is Trash Polka, and what are the pros and cons of this style of tattooing?
As tattoos become more commonplace, many people are seeking tattoo artists with unique and distinctive tattoo styles to stand out from the crowd.
Having a tattoo means you’re “different” in some way, isn’t that part of the fun? Artists continue to develop and evolve existing styles, but some are taking a different approach.  Here you can find great design ideas for Trash Polka Tattoos.

Who invented Trash Polka?

Volker Merschky and Simone Pfaff created the term ‘Trash Polka’ in 1998 at the Buena Vista Tattoo Club in Würzburg.
The artists originally called their work ‘Realistic Trash Polka’ because their work combines realistic images (Realistic) with graphic, lettering, and other artistic layers (Trash).

Volker Merschky and Simone Pfaff

After studying interior design and working as graphic designers, Merschky and Pfaff both became tattoo artists. Besides music, they are also painters and photographers.
Their tattoos have been known to break stereotypes about classic German tattoo style. This is because they have mixed realistic as well as graphic tattoo styles together.
Typically, a portrait would be crossed out with black lines or a photographic image would be lettered. To create powerful visual representations, they would use meaningful words and bold colours. The contrast created on the skin made the tattoos stand out.
Over time ‘Trash Polka’ began to receive global recognition & appeared in articles in tattoo magazines, books and websites. Merschky and Pfaff said “We need open minded customers who can lay their hands off and trust us”, but they admitted that many people get offended.
A typical process is as follows: the customer comes into the studio, tells them their thematic idea and perhaps some keywords from a song, poem, or quote they’d like to include. Pfaff and Merschky then sit down at a computer, create two or three designs and present them to the customer.
They explained their thought process; “If we only did what people want, we would never have been able to develop anything new,” says Merschky. Some of the elements that they use in the tattoos today, they painted years ago.
From then on, Merschky and Pfaff influenced many tattoo artists around the world with their style. First in Europe, then Russia, Asia, South America, Australia and in the United States as well.

Art Exhibition For Trash Polka

  • Museum of Contemporary Art, Rome ‘Tattoo Forever’ 2 June – 24 July 2016
  • Museum of Art and Business, Hamburg 13 February – 6 September 2015
  • Art gallery, Fürth 10 October – 8 November 2015
  • Somerset House, London ‘Time: Tattoo Art Today’ 3 July – 5 October 2014
  • Academy of Würzburg/Schweinfurt Faculty of Design ‘ Trash Polka’ 17 June – 9 July 2014
  • Museum Villa Rot, Stuttgart ‘Gestochen Scharf’ 24 March – 28 July 2013
  • Gallery 59 / rue de Rivoli, Paris ‘Menschenkinder’ 13–25 September 2011

Where did Trash Polka Tattoos come from?

Simone and Volko Merschy created this style of painterly dynamic tattooing for the Buena Vista tattoo club in Germany. Their unique mix of realism and surrealism script and abstract lines helped them become famous. Additionally, the artists combined bold and fine black lines with gray shading and dramatic red splatters. Accordingly, the tattoo does not make much sense and appears like a collage of totally unrelated elements.

With their bold style and black and red ink, the tattoos have the appearance of being just finished. In spite of the impressive contrast and visual appeal, these tattoos age remarkably well when done properly. It is not easy to create such chaos if you don’t have a relatively large canvas to work with.

Trash Polka tattoos are unique because you can only obtain them directly from the artist who made them. Failing to obtain them directly from the artist would be an attempt to forge them. It is harder to find an artist who will work with custom images since original maestros only use their own pictures.

We have compiled a list of the top ten Trash Polka tattoos. This is a collection of exquisite and true works of art.