Trash Polka Tattoos: The Eagle Has Landed


Image from Inked Mag

Major league tattoo fans are always on the lookout for the next big tattoo trend. However, tattoos are like any other cultural phenomena: the latest hotness is usually a blast from the past.

In this case, we’re shining a light on the Trash Polka tattoos that are making a huge comeback. In order to fully understand this tattoo style, we need to take a blast to the past.

Where Did It Come From?


Image from True Artists

With many tattoo styles, we don’t know exactly where they came from. With Trash Polka, we don’t just know where–we know who.

Back in 1998, two German artists (Volker Merschky and Simone Pfaff) coined the term “Trash Polka.” Obviously, the name “polka” evokes a sense of music. And that’s exactly how these two artists saw this new form of art.

That’s because Trash Polka is not a single style. Instead, it is a blend of many styles, including photorealism as well as special graphical and lettering styles. The idea is that this would all blend together like a special musical composition.

Of course, the name also has a sense of whimsy to it as well. By evoking both musical composition and artistic “trash,” the two artists reject the idea of high culture and low culture. Instead, everything in this kind of art has achieved a special balance.

Why Is Trash Polka Great for Tattoos?

trash polka kevin riley.jpg

Image from Kevin Riley

There are plenty of unique art styles out there, but not all of them make for great ink. This obviously begs the question: what makes Trash Polka tattoos so cool?

First, there is the symbolism of balance. Many tattoo fans see their ink as an expression of their real identity that is hidden under the surface. By blending these different styles together, Trash Polka lets you wear your complex identity out in the open.

Second, these tattoos look very cool on a visual level. Many of them look like a cross between an old 90’s heavy metal album cover and the unnerving visuals of a David Lynch movie.

Third, these tattoos are relatively unique. Even in a room full of tattoos, you’re likely to be sporting the only Trash Polka tat.

A Very Specific Look


Image from Rising Dragon Tattoos

These tattoos aren’t for everyone. To start with, traditional Trash Polka tattoos are only in red and black.  And if you’re going the really traditional route, you need to have a seriously open mind to enjoy this ink.

For example, the creators of this style don’t draw customer designs. Instead, they take customer ideas and use computer-generated art to churn out several possible tattoo styles.

Obviously, the customer must have a lot of faith to trust in their artist. But in the end, the customer walks away with one of the most unique tattoos in the world!

The Bottom Line

Trash Polka makes for great nature tattoos, and one of our favorites is the Trash Polka Eagle. Nothing like showing off the animal hidden inside you!

And every good animal needs some inspiration every now and then. To learn more about the hottest tattoo styles around, be sure to visit Tattooing 101 each week!

Nathan Molenaar

Nathan is a licensed professional tattoo artist with over 8 years’ experience working at studios across the globe, including Celebrity Ink, the world's largest tattoo studio chain.

When he's not tattooing, he spends his free time sharing his experience and knowledge with aspiring artists who dream of pursuing a career in the tattooing industry.

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