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Trash Polka Tattoos NYC


Trash Polka Tattoos are visually striking and are primarily designed with black and red colors. The majority of the tattoos done in this style are usually large pieces. The large size of these pieces allows for the inclusion of different elements and motifs. The contrasting colors create an optical effect. Abstract designs that are combined with realistic motifs are a key point of the Trash Polka tattoo style. It is also common for lettering used in Trash Polka tattoos to be in very distinctive fonts.


Trash Polka tattoos can be a combination of naturalistic, surrealistic, and photorealistic images. Trash Polka tattoos are clean, classy, and beautiful, but are also intense, abstract, and bold. This tattoo style breaks all of the rules of traditional tattooing. Trash polka is a style of tattoo that originated in Germany and aims to tell a story, where the designs are usually a chaotic collage style and each is completely unique. 

Mikhail Andersson

Our Trash Polka Tattoos Artists

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History of Trash Polka Tattoos

The term 'Trash Polka' is a word that was created, and is a registered trademark, by Volker Merschky and Simone Pfaff. The Trash Polka Tattoo style was created by Merschky and Pfaff in 1989 at Buena Vista Tattoo Club in Würzburg, Germany. The two artists originally named the style 'Realistic Trash Polka' because it combined realistic images with other artistic layers. Eventually, they shortened the name to Trash Polka in order to avoid setting any fixed rules for the style. Merschky has referred to the Trash Polka style as a “combination of realism and trash; the 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.”


There were two initial challenges of launching this style of tattoo. First, there were a limited number of clients looking to get a tattoo of this scale. Second, at the time, there were no tattoo styles that were similar. Little did Merschky and Pfaff know how popular this style of tattoo would become. 

The Future of the Style

Trash Polka is a relatively newer tattoo style. Trash Polka tattoos challenge the norms of society, and they are aimed towards expressing individuality and uniqueness. The Trash Polka style of tattoos can be combined with any other tattoo style, which makes them extremely versatile and a style that can easily evolve alongside other tattoo styles. Trash Polka is synonymous with realism, which makes the designs continuously evolve to be more intense and gruesome as individuals feel more comfortable expressing themselves outwardly on their bodies and using their skin as canvases. What makes the Trash Polka style unique is that it is bold, it is rare, it is new, and it is designed to look like it was freshly done. The Trash Polka style of tattoo is not going out of style anytime soon. If anything, we will likely see more of this style as time goes on. Currently, the style is very popular in Europe but has not broken out in the United States yet. 

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 Trash Polka Tattoo Gallery

Trash Polka Tattoos FAQs

Should I get a Trash Polka tattoo?

As with any style, tattoos are based on personal taste. If you are in love with a style, go and get it. One positive of getting a tattoo in this style is that they are unique, so you will not run into too many other people with the same style of tattoo as you. This is not just because of the lack of popularity of the strong red and black style, but also because that the Trash Polka style has not become too popular outside of Europe yet.

Why was the Trash Polka style of tattoo created?

Trash polka was designed to be unique. Volker Merschky and Simone Pfaff created the Trash Polka style because they wanted to break the traditional rules of tattooing and use the human body as a canvas. They wanted to create a style that represents both music and art by meshing realism with ‘trash.’

What do Trash Polka tattoos symbolize?

Trash polka tattoos are meant to tell a story. Like all tattoos, each piece symbolizes something different for the wearer. Although due to Trash polka’s dark style they usually symbolize something of that nature. The red and black elements create an almost ominous feel. They are meant to make people turn their heads and wonder.

Trash Polka Tattoos & Cover Ups

Trash polka tattoos are known for deeply saturated reds and blacks, which unsurprisingly, makes for an amazing tattoo cover up style. The only downside for a trash polka cover up is that this style often utilizes negative space of unmarked skin within the design. Thus, extra planning is required to make sure the piece being covered doesn’t appear in this negative space, but instead behind the deep blacks and reds. Check out the Trash Polka designs by some of the First Class artists to start developing your idea.

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Ask us a question or inquire about booking a time for your Trash Polka Tattoo!

52 Canal Street, New York, NY 10002  |  Tel: (646) 998-5203

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