Trash polka tattoo

Tattoo styles 5 min read Last updated on August 8, 2020

Trash polka tattoo style is a novelty in the field of tattoos. Many believe this style is too graphic and unattractive, while others are drawn to its originality and mysterious quality. The main attraction of this style is its ability to make the most terrible things appealing.

Style Features

  • Trash polka resembles a collage that combines elements of photorealism and naturalism as well as geometry, graphics, inscriptions. The style is well-characterized by contrasts: the simplicity of graphic elements as opposed to photorealistic details.
  • Trash polka opposes all standards and uniformity, incubator style. Hence, it’s a way to distinguish themselves from the masses. Somehow it is a rebellion against the standards of fashion and glamour.
  • The style predominantly comes down to two colors - black and red. Often, black becomes the base of the drawing. Red is used as an additive, and is often used as blood in the painting. But there are less traditional subjects, such as a scarlet flower on a dark background. The style has evolved and tattooists have been adding blue, yellow, etc. to images.
  • Realistic plot and a graphic design are combined in one image and sometimes even oppose each other.
  • Images often look fragmented due to the lack of dense filled-in spaces.
  • Tattoos are characterized by dynamism and spectacularism.
  • The images on the body are usually large enough to express all the beauty and uniqueness of style.
  • Trash polka tattoos have no "light". The tattoo often causes unpleasant emotions in others as they can be shocking and frightening. The energy of such illustrations is always dark and heavy. At the same time, this sense of unease a viewer can feel adds to the power of the tattoo.

Thus, trash polka is ideal for those who oppose banality, stereotypes, and rules. Tattoos in this style challenges society as a protest aimed at demonstrating individual uniqueness.

Trash polka can be combined with other tattoo styles—it is most harmonious with realism. Combining these two styles give rise to extremely horrifying and bothersome drawings.


Trash Polka originated in Germany, a product of the talented Volko Mershky and his wife Simone Pfaff. It is believed that the style was formed in the 1990s, but that the spouses have explored this style since the 1970s. The name Trash Polka is a reference to Gypsy and German folklore. They describe the style as a combination of natural and abstract images and the past and future.

The style was born from collages because Volko and Simone originally made collages from photographs and newspaper fonts, and different images were applied on top of them. The style eventually evolved into what we know trash polka to be today. Currently, the founders of this style have their own tattoo studio and continue to develop the direction they created and tattoo art in general.