If you love tattoos and you are on Instagram, you will surely have heard of @livedintattoos.
I love this page as it showcases quality tattoo collections. In a few words: healed and lived in.
This helps people realize how tattoos might look when you get older.
Some are more faded than others, and it’s not always an issue of time, but every one of them is beautiful in its own way.
I was very intrigued to know how the page was created and by who. So here is my interview with Ivar, a 34 yo guy from Oslo, Norway.
How did you fall in love with tattoo art?
I don’t really have a one sentence answer for that. My memory is kinda flaky, but at least 50% of the following should be about right.
I’ve been fascinated with tattoos for as long as I can remember, and I knew early on that I wanted to get them myself at some point. In my late teens I had the impression that it was super important to justify your tattoo with a deep and personal meaning though. I got my first at the ripe age of 18 in Copenhagen, Denmark (because I had heard it was cheaper there than back home). Tattoo was tattoo for all I knew, and a personal and meaningful design felt like the synonym of a good tattoo that I wouldn’t regret later. My dad is a guitar luthier, and the logo he used for his business was a guitar neck with two snakes wrapping around. I was like «perfect! This can both symbolize my love for guitars, and be a tribute to my father. I’ll get that!». I strolled into a random Copenhagen tattoo studio, showed the guy there the design and pointed to the side of my leg. That way I could show it off in shorts, and cover it up whenever I wanted to, haha. In hindsight I’m stoked that I went for it, and happy I kept it, even though I wanted to get it covered for a while. It’s kinda what set off my interest in tattoos, even though I wouldn’t get my next one until several years later.
In 2005 I was at a concert with the Norwegian straight edge hardcore band Purified in Blood, and that’s when my eyes really opened up to tattoos. The guys in the band had a lot of coverage, and cool shit too, like daggers, eagles, butterflies. Stuff like that.
I remember thinking to myself «that’s fucking cool. I want tattoos that look like that!».
Thing was I knew nothing about what actually makes a tattoo good, like application-wise, but at least I had realized that I didn’t need a deeper meaning to them. It was enough of a reason to just like the look of them, you know. Thankfully I had enough introspect to realize that I knew jack shit of what makes a tattoo good, and decided to do some extensive research before getting my next one. This was at a time before instagram, before all the «ink» television shows, before it was part of mainstream pop culture etc. I came across an online tattoo forum called Tattoodles at one point. This forum was a platform for tattooers to give each other blunt, truthful, and sometimes harsh critique of each others work. There was a few sections on there that weren’t restricted to tattooers only, and that’s where I sort of picked up the fundamentals of how to tell good craftsmanship from poor. In 2006 I ended up deciding on a Japanese style half sleeve, and was somehow able to find out where the guys from Purified in Blood got their tattoos. This was Invictus tattoo, at the old location, where Marius Meyer and Jimmy Duvall used to work side by side. I decided to go with Jimmy, probably because he had the most visible tattoos between the two at the time, haha. Anyways, I have to give thanks to both Marius and Jimmy for sparking my tattoo interest further, as the early conversations with those guys was the leading factor to my enthusiasm really taking off.
How did the idea of creating @livedintattoos come out?
The reason I started livedintattoos was actually kinda selfish. I was really curious to see older, quality tattoos, and I’m kinda obsessed with tattooers that came up in the 90’s. People like Higgs, Grime, Deutsche, Conn, Corbin, O’Donnell, Hoyer, Pacheco, Zulueta, Whitehead, Rassier etc. I was hoping that by having a profile that solely focused on healed tattoos, preferably more than a couple years old, that I might get submissions with stuff like that. Luckily for me it worked! I think you can see more tattoos like that on livedin than anywhere else on instagram (maybe with the exception of the excellent @americanatattoos profile). The other, slightly less selfish, reason was to educate people who are fairly new to tattoos on how they actually hold up over time. Why the old saying «bold will hold» actually carries some weight to it.
I also feel that a lot of older, settled in, beat up tattoos have a lot of soul and charm to them.
How did it become a real thing and how do you manage it now?
Livedin is managed by my good friend Wilhelm, and has been so for well over a year. When I went back to school in 2015 I didn’t have time to properly manage it myself anymore. Wilhelm was the natural choice to pass the torch to.
What are the best tattoos you’ve seen published on your page so far?
Too many to name. We’ve had an overwhelming number of awesome submissions and takeovers since the page first started.
What do you love the most about tattoo history?
The mystique and sub culture’esque of it.
Who are your biggest inspirations?
My dad. Richards Dawkins is pretty cool too.
Who did you get tattooed by? Would you define yourself a tattoo enthusiast?
Well, I am a guy that’s enthusiastic about tattoos, so yeah, I guess I would.
I have a lot of tattoos from Marius Meyer, and I gotta say, I feel really fortunate to have such a powerhouse of a tattooer practically working out of my back yard. If you haven’t already, do yourself a favor and check out his work @mariusmey.
I’ve also visited San Francisco several times, in addition to New York and Los Angeles, for tattoos. SF was, and still is, the mecca of tattooing in my mind. I’ve mostly collected one shots from a handful of tattooers on each of these trips. The exception would have to be my back piece by Grime. I had that done at Skull and Sword in San Francisco over three sessions back in 2013/’14. Really stoked to have it, and really stoked I won’t have to go through that ever again. It’s probably the most intense tattoo I’ve gotten, as far as agony and suffering goes, haha. Grime was super cool though, and all in all it was an awesome experience that I wouldn’t trade for anything.
What is your favourite part of the whole process behind of a new tattoo?
I like to give the tattooer a vague idea of what I want, and I’ll leave the rest entirely up to him/her. One of the things I love the most is getting that first look at the linedrawing when I show up for my appointment. I also love that sweet feeling of relief when I hear the words «I thiiiiink we’re done here».
I love your page because it shows how great tattoos can age well. It helps a lot as I often wonder how mine will get when I’m older. What do you love the most about it?
Thanks! I’m stoked that you dig it. Personally I really enjoy the Sunday takeovers. Especially those who write up some back story in the captions along with the photos they post.
What is the best advice, in your opinion, to get a good quality tattoo that can better pass the test of time?
Do a little bit of research before you take the plunge. The brilliant series “Tattoo Age” on Vice is a good place to start. Oh, and @livedintattoos on instagram too, of course.
And what do you think about the watercolor style and that hyper realistic stuff?
Not my cup of tea. I think I’ll leave it at that.
How do you see the modern tattoo society we are living in?
Well, the stigma is pretty much a thing of the past over here. Some might argue that’s a good thing, and some may feel that’s part of what ruined tattooing. I’m a little bit split on this.
I think it’s nice that I can go to a job interview and not have to worry about my tattoos peaking out of my sleeve, and at the same time it’s a little weird that almost everyone and their mother seem to have one now.
Any future project and tattoo plans to share with us?
Me and Wilhelm is currently talking about making a trip out to Arizona next year. There’s this dude there by the name Mike that I’ve been dying to get work from for years.