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, the United Kingdom, and Tahiti.
Being in Maryland has helped the practice and knowledge of tatak reach the large Filipino communities on the East Coast and beyond.
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.
My Recent Work
Upcoming Travel Dates
Cebu, PH- Jan 13,14
Mumbai, India- Jan 18-21
Oahu, Hawaii Jan 28- Feb 5
PLEASE READ THIS FAQ PRIOR TO SENDING AN INQUIRY
IMPORTANT: There have been many recent scams from those pretending to be me in order to get people to send them deposits. PLEASE BE AWARE I do not discuss appointment booking or details with potential clients on any platform other than my VERIFIED Instagram account @tatakbyayla or my email account email@example.com. Any other account or username etc. IS NOT ME! Please report scam accounts if you are able and if you encounter them. Salamat!
UPDATE: ***MARYLAND AND HAWAII BOOKS (February Through End of March) ARE CLOSED. THANK YOU TO EVERYONE WHO INQUIRED!**
Booking Dates are prominently displayed on my Instagram Bio and this FAQ section. In most cases, booking for travel destinations is handled SEPARATELY on unique booking dates that will be announced via my Instagram and this website. Travel destinations are shown above in the Travel Dates section.
How do I set up an appointment?
I only schedule appointments on specific Booking Days throughout the year which are announced in advance. While I do accept email, DMs on Instagram take priority, are faster to communicate with, and are more likely to be responded to. Maraming Salamat!
On booking dates, please contact me via Instagram Direct Messaging @tatakbyayla (this is preferred) or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I am often booked out very far in advance, so please take this into account when planning an appointment with me. Please provide your name, where you are based, your preferred tattooing method, and where on your body you would like to be marked. Your inquiry will be responded to with much more information about the booking process, pricing/rate, and available dates remaining.
Also, while messages are usually responded to very quickly, please be patient when waiting for a response as I receive a very large number of inquiries, requests, and other messages. Please note that, due to the sheer number of inquiries I receive, only a small percentage out of the total who inquire will be able to secure an appointment with me. Even if you are not able to book with me, your support and interest in my work are highly appreciated!
Due to ever increasing demand and a focus on larger projects, I will generally require that anyone booking with me have a minimum budget of $1000. This means that if you have an appointment with me, please expect to be paying at least $1000 for the session. Clients will be charged by the exact amount of time they were actively being tattooed, so please note your tattoo may be more than $1000. Most clients pay $1000-$1500 for a session with me. After you inquire about an appointment, I will ask that you specify your estimated budget so I am prepared for your session.
This amount results in a large tattoo for most clients, and would be equivalent to a detailed wraparound forearm piece, a large upper arm half-sleeve, wraparound calf piece, or similar sized tattoo elsewhere on the body. For reference, most of the tattoos shown on my Instagram feed fall in the price range specified above.
The minimum budget can also be met by more than one person in a group session. For example, two clients who come together to the same appointment could each get a $500 tattoo, reaching the $1000 minimum.
My rate for tattooing is the same for both the machine and tapping method, and will be disclosed after an inquiry is sent (along with other information). Please note that the tapping method is a specialized, skill-intensive technique and can be considerably slower than machine, so a tapping session may end up being more expensive than a machine tattoo of the same size.
Because of the demands of my schedule, I am no longer able to work on smaller projects unless I am working with two or more clients on the same day to be equivalent to one large project.
Fortunately, my brother Connor is also a tatak practitioner who is currently focusing on smaller pieces and projects and looking to work with more clients. Please contact him via Instagram DM @superprimotatak to inquire about his availability and to discuss the tattoo idea you have in mind.
About Security Deposits
I require a $100 security deposit to book an appointment date. This $100 security deposit is included in the final price of the tattoo but is non-refundable. If you need to cancel or reschedule, with the exception of unique or extreme circumstances, you will forfeit your deposit. If you need to cancel or reschedule your appointment, please let me know ASAP so I can potentially have another client fill that slot! Special cases aside, if you need to reschedule, you must send in a new security deposit in order to secure a new appointment and wait until a new date becomes available.
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 which is then 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?
In virtually all cases, I will hand-draw the design directly onto the skin prior to tattooing. This is the traditional method and ensures the tattoo is unique to the individual, accurate, and flows with the contours of the body. I do not use stencils or sketches or provide mockups of tattoos to clients--everything is done by hand on the day of your appointment!
If you have any special elements you want represented in your tattoo, please feel free to send relevant references. For my Filipino clients, the format and patterns used for your tattoo will be based on your personal, family, and ethnic background. You will answer a short personal/family history questionnaire after you have scheduled an appointment.
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 final 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 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 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 traditional/folk 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 and are hydrated before your appointment. If the area you are getting tattooed has a lot of hair, please remove it before the appointment. Bring snacks, entertainment, distractions, and whatever else can make you comfortable in the studio. Wear proper clothing that you don't mind getting dirty--tank tops for sleeves, shorts for leg pieces etc. You will be able to take breaks as needed during the session.
Kindly bring a small offering for the Anito (spirits) that watch the Space. This offering can be as simple as a stick of incense or fruit.
You are allowed to bring a guest with you if that guest understands that the appointment is a time-consuming process and that they should have a way to keep themselves occupied.
Do you do design commissions for other artists to work from?
YES! PLEASE VISIT THE DESIGN COMISSIONS SECTION HERE FOR ALL RELEVANT INFORMATION!
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 during the session. If you have remaining questions about the meaning of certain patterns, please refer to my free book above. How the patterns and format of your tattoo relates to you personally, your life history, and your ancestors specifically is sacred, and I will explain these deeper meanings to you during your session. Please respect this process and commit what I have relayed to you to memory.
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 work in a "by appointment only" studio located in Maryland. Location and address are disclosed to clients after an appointment is confirmed.
If you are arriving from out of state or staying multiple days in the area, please say so during communication, and you will be provided with information about the best areas to stay, which airport to fly into, and any other information you may request.