In 1919, Trinkaus began an apprenticeship as an electrician in Stotteritz, and also attended the Leipzig Vocational School until 1924, where the curriculum included a basic artistic education alongside the natural sciences. He presumably undertook self-study in art besides his activities as an electrician. Little is known about the course of Trinkaus’s artistic career. In 1926, Trinkaus showed his work to Wassily Kandinsky, who thereupon gave him a written testimonial that enabled him to apply to study at the Bauhaus. He was accepted for the winter semester of 1927/28. Trinkaus took courses there with Kandinsky, Paul Klee and Herbert Bayer, and attended the printing and advertising workshop of Joost Schmidt. But Trinkaus primarily worked in the cabinetmaker’s workshop of Josef Albers. For reasons that are not clear, Trinkaus broke off his studies after just two semesters.
In 1933, the Bauhaus in Dessau had to close its doors for good on the orders of the Nazis. Trinkaus joined the German Communist Party in May 1933 (by which time it was already banned). In 1935, he graduated as an aeroplane engineer and in 1936 was appointed to a job at the Junkers Aeroplane and Engine Works in Dessau, though he also continued drawing. Trinkaus was drafted into the German navy in Schwerin in 1945, and was taken prisoner by the Americans. After his release, Trinkaus worked as an engineer at the light aircraft factory of Klemm in Boblingen. He then moved to Berlin, and in 1953 he married Magda Sendhoff. In 1960, Trinkaus returned to his home city of Leipzig. The emotional suffering he endured at this time, combined with his political disappointments, led him to take his own life in December 1965.