Old keys and tiny faucet handles. A pocketknife and a wolf tooth. Where others see antique oddities, Tara Levitin sees jewelry. The rising star designer behind Leviticus Jewelry finds inspiration in anything from a book of watercolors to music for an old movie—the stranger the jumble, the better. “I do stuff on a whim,” she says. “If I feel like making this, I’ll make this.”
Born in Texas, Levitin relocated to Los Angeles, where she received a degree from the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising. After graduation, she bounced to New York City and back to Texas, where she began designing her line of handmade jewelry, Leviticus—in honor of Levi, her brother who died in 2005—as a means of staying home with her daughter. The company grew bigger, thanks to fans such as Rachael Ray and Pixie on LA Ink, and these days Levitin is focused on building internationally and expanding her online shop. “I know that people want to touch and try it on before they buy it. That’s my biggest thing—getting everything out there,” she says.
Levitin says her tattoo inspirations and ideas are “almost like my jewelry, because I’ll get an idea or I’ll see something I like and I’ll think on it. It’s a bit different with tattoos, though, because I’ll make myself sit and think about it for at least five months before I get it.” Her journey into the self-expression of ink began with her first tattoo: two stick figures based on a Radiohead album logo done by a “biker guy at a tattoo shop in Houston.” Her mother cried. Levitin, on the other hand, had no regrets—she was hooked. At least 12 more followed.
If Levitin does have a regret when it comes to her ink, it’s only that her favorite one is on the back of her arm, which means she can only catch a glimpse of it in a mirror. If she could do it over again, the image of the vintage girl in the window would be placed front and center so Levitin could see it as often as she liked. “My husband is always telling me to get filler, asking me if I’m going to get sleeves,” she laughs. “I don’t really care about that stuff—I just get what I want.”