Trash Polka: Pushing the Boundaries in Tattoo Design

Trash Polka: Pushing the Boundaries in Tattoo Design

Beauty in chaos is the underlying motif of the German-born trash polka tattoo style. Click here to learn more about this dark, edgy, collage-like body art.

Trash Polka

Tattoos have become increasingly popular. For many, the stigma associated with this art form has long gone.

People now look to tattoos as an outward expression of their individuality.

Surveys show that an estimated 45 million people in the U.S have at least one tattoo.

In light of this, it’s unsurprising that tattoo fans are hunting for pieces that are bigger, better and bolder than ever before.

This is where Trash Polka comes into its own.

Let’s explore this tattoo style in more detail.

What Is Trash Polka?

Tattoo genres are continually developing to meet the needs of various tattoo trends and demands.

One such style is Trash Polka. This a relatively new yet, revolutionary style of tattooing.

Trash polka prides itself on its uniqueness. It aims to push the boundaries of traditional tattoo art.

This genre was created and developed by tattoo artists Volko Merschky and Simone Plaff, in Wurzburg, Germany in their tattoo parlor, Buena Vista Tattoo Club.

These artists are renown for their alternative choice of themes and colors used throughout their work.

Volko describes their art as a combination of: “realism and trash; nature and the abstract; technology and humanity; past, present, and future; opposites that they are trying to urge into a creative dance to harmony and rhythm in tune with the body”.

The beauty of Trash Polka is its ability to evolve. However, there are certain traits the tattoo must have. Without them, the piece can’t be considered a genuine imitation of the style.

These include:

  • The combination of realistic images with smudges, and dynamic design. This brings a chaotic look to the piece.
  • Occasionally, words, phrases, or quotes will be incorporated. However, the calligraphy must compliment the rest of the design.
  • Black and red ink always feature in these tattoos. However, variations can include black-gray coloring.
  • The tattoo must resemble a collage that combines both natural-looking images and photo-realistic images.

The Best Way to Describe the Trash Polka Genre?

The best way to describe Trash Polka is a combination of realism, surrealism, script and abstract lines.

When all of the elements of the tattoo are combined they usually don’t link. This is purposely done to make the tattoo look wild and ambiguous.

Death and everything connected to this notion is usually the foundation for these totems.


This genre is famous for utilizing both bold and fine lines. These were selected to complement the use of black and red ink. This makes the finished piece look dramatic.


This genre is limited in the sense of how many artists can replicate this style well.

It’s very new and most commonly found in Germany. This is a perfect choice if you’re looking for unique body art.


Trash Polka epitomizes the use of novel designs. The imagery of different items unrelated to each other is one of the foundations of this style.

Universal Symbolism in Trash Polka Design

There are several symbols typically associated with this tattoo style. Commonly, people associate this genre with rebellion.

Rebelliousness strikes the core of these designs and is achieved by using bold, bright and in some cases, vulgar imagery.

This art aims to protest societal norms, to rebuke commonness and monotony and to spur a sense of irony.

Put simply, all these pieces are thought-provoking and will often have a hidden meaning to them.

This is why the below images are often used in Trash Polker designs.

However, the meanings of these symbols are always up for interpretation. Only the tattoo artist and the recipient of the piece will ever truly know the imagery’s true meaning.;


These symbolize our inevitable death and all things evil in the world. Skulls are usually used to represent a multitude of issues in society. They could also represent the individuals intrinsic evil.


The inclusion of dice can represent; opportunity, chance, luck, and evil.


Clocks always represent the passage of time.

This genre often includes broken dials within the timepieces. This sometimes represents the fact that nothing is permanent.

Imagery like this almost alludes to the idea that time always gets the better of us in the end.


These are very prominent of thsi style. Usually, these faces are drawn without eyes, rotted faces or, a bloodied face.

Volko and Simone would often include celebrity faces and design them in an abstract way.

What Do I Need to Consider Before Having This Tattoo Style?

As with all tattoos you need to consider its placement, colors, and design carefully.

You also need to source an artist who’s willing to work with the images you want to use (as not all of them will be).

Remember, all tattoos fade over time. Bear in mind that fine lines are more likely to blur eventually.

As this style is designed to look fresh, you have to make sure you won’t fall out of love with your piece.

By looking fresh, we mean a tattoo that appears ‘just finished’. The gloss of the newly printed tattoo adds to its ‘pop’.

You have to consider what your design will look like when it begins to fade. This is especially true for those who frequently expose their skin to the sun.

This genre is fabulous if you want a larger tattoo because ideally, you need a more significant section of the body to work on for these designs to look their best.

As previously alluded to, you can add plenty of details and hidden meanings to your piece. This style is perfect if that sort of thing’s important to you.

Do You Want a Trash Polka Style Tattoo?

If you’re looking to get this of style tattoo please feel free to contact us today, and we’ll be more than happy to book you in for a consultation.

Alternatively, if you have any questions about this genre or about the tattooing process please feel free to send us in your questions and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

Or, if you’re looking for further information and tattoo inspiration please feel free to browse our blog.

Stop by our Maui Tattoo Shop or Henderson Tattoo Shop