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About Me

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.

 

My Recent Work

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Upcoming Travel Dates

SPRING 2022 TBD

BOOKS

Here are Download Links for my free books! Click on the image below to be taken to the PDF document of the book.

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UPDATE: BOOKS ARE CLOSED, BOOKING FOR NOVEMBER 2022 AND BEYOND WILL BE ON JUNE 12th. Please refrain from sending appointment inquiries until JUNE 12th. Booking Dates are prominently displayed on my Instagram Bio and this FAQ section.

How do I set up an appointment?

I only schedule appointments on specific Booking Days throughout the year which are announced in advance. There is no waiting list. Inquires are handled on a "first come, first serve" basis, so inquires will be responded to in the order they are received (by timestamp of message receipt). 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 tatakbyayla@gmail.com. I am often booked out close to a year in advance, so please take this into account when planning an appointment with me.

Minimum Budgets

Due to ever increasing demand, starting with my next round of scheduled clients (booking on June 12th), I will require that anyone booking with me have a minimum budget of $1000. This means that if you have an appointment with me, you will 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. After you inquire about an appointment, I will ask that you specify your estimated budget so I am prepared for your session.

This amount is a medium-large tattoo for most clients, and would be equivalent to a detailed wraparound forearm piece, a large upper arm tattoo, calf piece, or similar sized tattoo elsewhere on the body.

 

The minimum budget can also be met by more than one person. For example, two clients get a $500 tattoo, reaching the $1000 minimum. 

About Security Deposits

I require a $100 security deposit to book an appointment date. This $100 security deposit is non-refundable. If you need to 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 wait until my next official booking date and send in a new security deposit in order to secure a new appointment. 

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?

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 accurate and flows with the contours of your 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 and family 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 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 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. However, I offer flash designs and other motifs as digital downloads on my store. 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 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 have a private studio located in Maryland. Location is disclosed closer to the appointment date. 

FAQ

 
 

Contact Information

Instagram

Tattoos & General: @tatakbyayla

Personal/Other: @aylaaroh

Art: @tatakbyayla.art