Tattoos and coffee? Not your regular combo, but we made it work. As baristas battled it out during this weel’s annual Aeropress competition, held here at our very own Honeycomb offices, Pale Rose hosted a tattoo pop up in our media room. Situated in the back of the dimmed main room and its party vibe, the glass box of our recording studio shined bright like a fishbowl as guests submitted themselves to the needle for all to see. Although the majority of customers opted for the special coffee-themed flash tattoos available for one night only, Pale Rose is known for their traditional Western-styled Sailor Jerry tattoos. The shop aims to make their name by inking the classic hearts and sparrows and panthers onto a new generation of fans. And a few brave soles went for their specialty, with one customer getting his very first tattoo on the sensitive inner bicep, much to the approval of all the spectators.
Kiyo Tawara is one of Pale Rose’s four founders, who were all on deck for the event, and had been drawing flash for a few years before even considering becoming a tattoo artist. (Flash tattoo art comprises sketching smallish, single pieces by an individual artist that customers can browse from as options for tattoos.) “I was working a 9-to-5 in Japan for five years, and in my spare time, my hobby was drawing and eventually flash, because I was too tired to leave the house after work,” he tells us. “I was posting it on Instagram and people were commenting that it was traditional, old school Sailor Jerry stuff. I got burnt out from work and needed something different. People were asking if I did tattoos, which gave me the idea.”
This went on for five years until he eventually he went all in. After arranging for an apprenticeship with Daniel Torres from Juan Love Tattoos, who he’d gotten his first tattoo from, Kiyo booked a flight back home to Manila and chased his dream. With no job lined up, he was going for broke: “If I didn’t do it then, I knew I’d regret it. So I was just hanging out at his shop learning sanitation and how to set up the machines.” The next step was to find a willing test subject, and luckily his best friend Johnny signed up as guinea pig. “The first tattoo was such shit,” Kiyo chuckles. “I eventually filled up almost his whole leg. He helped me a lot. I tried on myself once but it hurt too much to learn so I quickly called him again to practice more!”
Soon he’d move to Good Hand Tattoo, where he met his other three partners who would go on to found Pale Rose with him. “The shop was great but too small, so we broke out on our own after a few years.” For now, they’re entirely reliant on word of mouth, since they’re situated in an office building in Makati. So spread the word and get in soon before the shop gets too famous.