For some time now I’ve seen a new style in tattooing, a style that reminded me of the punk rock days, old school graffiti and the former Eastern block’s color pallet. A style that creates a perfect mix between grunge graphic elements, realistic portraits and typography. This was something amazing, that I’ve never seen before, after a little research the name Realistic Trash Polka came up.
This type of artwork reminisces of a World War II propaganda poster combined with a gruesome obituary, all put together in a collage surrounded by vintage and modern filigree and paint brush strokes. I’ve seen influences of this style in a few portfolios from artists in east and central Europe, and it really caught my eye.
Taking the research a bit further, a tattoo parlor named Buena Vista Tattoo Club came up many times. Buena Vista Tattoo Club is a german studio based in Würzburg. That’s when I discovered the founding fathers of this unique style were tattoo artists Volko Merschky and Simone Pfaff. As an artist Volko studied interior design and Simone studied graphic design, they also did photography. Together they developed this new style containing halftones, color overlay, brush strokes, stains and vintage fonts that seem to come from an old typewriter in a black and white plus one color palette are the elements surrounding stunning realistic skulls and portraits, usually displayed on large skin portions.
In their shop you have two opportunities, the first is to give them total freedom to create the art freehand, but as a customer you can also give a certain theme, maybe some keywords in combination with a song, poem or a quote. Out of this, the design will be created by these two artists from their understanding of the theme. By doing it this way, they can develop their own style and create completely unique designs that are sure to be one of a kind.
Working with moods, it’s more an abstract way of working, but that kind of input lets them give their best with your idea. Telling them exactly what you want in the design, that’s not how they work.
They also started a band together called, Dobbs Dead. As with Volko and Simone’s art, the debut Dobbs Dead album may not be for everyone. Much like ABBA and many other European bands that choose to perform in the English language. Haunting, heartfelt and dramatically understated because there are no drums, no bass, the sole power of the album comes from the poetic and lyrical capability. Feel free to check it out, as you may come to get your head around what they are trying to achieve. After all that’s how they Realistic Trash Polka reached the surface, through customers who were open minded enough.
Here are some of the coolest designs from these two amazing artists. Also you can always check out more of their artwork and music on the Buena Vista Tattoo Club official page.
Well, the tattoo designs we create don’t fit into any known or common styles, so we made up our minds to think of a term that would describe it best. We came up with Realistic Trash Polka because all in all, it’s a mixture of realistic elements combined with abstract or sometimes, graphic parts which represent the ‘trash’ part of the phrase. While this may be an unusual combination, it’s familiar from music, as a polka. So, the term polka comes from our inspiration from the music – especially from our own music and songwriting. Basically, Realistic Trash Polka is all of those things combined with what happens when we come together to create. It’s simply the two of us, our name, our brand and our style.
― Volko Merschky