My name is Ayla Roda, and I am an independent Filipino-American tatak practitioner living in Central Maryland.
I work with machine, traditional hand-poking, and traditional hand-tapping techniques.
"Tatak" means to mark in Tagalog and is what many of us call Traditional Filipino Tattooing.
I spent 2 years in an intensive apprenticeship with tatak practitioners on the West Coast, USA where I learned the traditions, techniques, and cultures surrounding the vast world of the pre-colonial Philippines, as well as the various tattooing practices of the Austronesian people. I've also spent time traveling in the Philippines and all over the USA and Hawaii, as well as tattooing abroad in Taiwan, Scotland, and Tahiti.
Being in Maryland has helped the practice and knowledge of tatak reach the large Filipino communities on the East Coast.
Over the years, I have been able to work with people of all ethnicities to help bring them closer to the Old Ways of their ancestors.
Being of mixed heritage, including Ilocano, Ilonggo, Celtic, Germanic, and Slavic, I've recently been passionate about exploring ways to bring different traditions together in a respectful and powerful way through tattooing.
When not tattooing, I am also an avid painter, jewelry maker, and crafter incorporating ethnic designs and sacred geometry into my pieces.
I have always been inspired by myths, traditions, and ethnic designs found in Europe, Central and Southeast Asia, and Polynesia.
Through all my work, I hope to honor the Old Ways of my ancestors, revive and promote indigenous and traditional tattooing, and preserve traditional ways of life.
You can view and purchase some of my art here.
Maraming Salamat (thank you)! I look forward to working with you in the future.
Upcoming Travel Dates
International Travel Postponed due to COVID-19
How do I set up an appointment?
Please contact me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Instagram Direct Messaging @tatakbyayla. I am often booked out months/half a year or more in advance, so please take this into account when planning an appointment with me. I require a $100 security deposit to book an appointment date. If you must reschedule your appointment date, your initial deposit will still be valid. However, your deposit is non-refundable except in unique circumstances.
What methods of tattooing do you do?
I specialize in machine tattooing, hand poking, and hand tapping.
Hand poking is a traditional, electric-free method using just the needle and ink.
Hand tapping is a traditional, electric-free method using the needle attached to a L-shaped tool and tapped into the skin.
Are traditional methods more painful?
This is a question I get quite often. In my experience and many of my clients' experiences, traditional method tattoos are much gentler on the skin and often heal faster than machine tattoos. Hand poking and hand tapping are less abrasive on the skin and often hurt less than machine, but in the end, everyone's skin is different and there is only one way to find out for yourself!
How do you choose the designs for me?
For my Filipino clients, the format and patterns used for your tattoo will be based on your personal and family background. You will answer a short personal/family history questionnaire after you have scheduled an appointment. In almost all cases, I will hand-draw the majority of the design directly onto the skin prior to tattooing. This is the traditional method and ensures the tattoo is accurate and flows with the contours of your body.
Am I allowed input if I choose traditional tattooing?
Of course! I can incorporate other non-traditional or non-Filipino elements into a tattoo upon request. Ultimately, the tattoo is on your body and you have the ultimate say. However, there are certain patterns/markings that are reserved for individuals who have achieved certain status or have performed specific deeds of valor (specifically in combat) or service to the community. Out of respect for the ancestors and present indigenous peoples of the Philippines, I will refuse to make these types of marks on you unless you have truly earned them.
If I'm not Filipino, can I still receive a traditional tattoo?
Yes, though the design your receive will be more more based on visual balance and not particularly specific to your ancestral lineage. I can still incorporate specific meanings and symbolism through the patterns. I also love working with ethnic designs from Europe, Africa, and elsewhere so I am not limited to traditional Filipino designs. I have many books of European, Asian, African, and Mesoamerican patterns for you to look through for inspiration.
Do you work with color?
Very rarely, and if I do, I work with simple, bold colors that would have been available in an ancestral context, such as red and blue. Most of the time, I work strictly with black ink.
Do you work with other styles?
Yes! I work in a variety of styles, though most of them are ethnic/tribal in nature. I specialize in a variety of ethnic designs (Norse, Celtic/Pictish, Slavic, Central Asian, etc.), medieval woodblock print motifs, and other black work. I have also worked with flash designs, script, anime/manga, American traditional, and some East Asian motifs. However, if I feel your tattoo is not my specialty, I will recommend another artist/studio better suited to help you achieve your vision.
How should I prepare for my appointment?
Please make sure that you are in good health, well-rested, and have eaten before your appointment. If the area you are getting tattooed has a lot of hair, please remove it before the appointment. You will be able to take breaks as needed during the session.
Do you do design commissions for other artists to work from?
Due to time constraints and the hand-drawn nature of traditional Filipino tattooing, I do not offer designs or provide stencils to anyone except my own clients. This applies to non-Filipino designs as well. If you are looking to get traditional Filipino work done, you are taking a risk with artists who are not trained in the meanings and construction of the patterns or format.
How do I explain the meaning of my tattoo to people who ask about it?
I will explain the meaning of the patterns and format of your tattoo to you while drawing the design on you and while tattooing it. Please feel free to ask questions before, during, and after the session. If you have remaining questions about the meaning of your tattoo, please ask them via email or direct messaging. I'm always happy to explain the symbology and help in any way I can!
Do you travel or guest spot? Where is your studio?
My travel plans and guest spots will be announced above in "Upcoming Travel Dates" and on my Instagram. I have a private studio located in Maryland.