The Leuven Hundreds

Portraits of a city's people, today

We’ve joined forces with Leuven to highlight 100 local people, places and projects that contribute towards making the city what it is today. From artists and architects to producers and professors, these are the driving forces powering Leuven forward one ingenious initiative at a time.

Karan Sarin

Karan Sarin

Owner and tattoo artist, Old Rules (1985)

Can you describe what you do?

I run a tattoo shop based in Tiensestraat – a vibrant district, with plenty of things to see and experience. It’s become one of Leuven’s new trendy areas, with a truly burgeoning gastronomy scene appearing in no time. I like to surround myself with different artists, ranging from experienced top shots to newcomers I’ve taken under my wing. Despite already having considerable experience in the field, I find it’s important to continue improving my knowledge and expertise in my craft. Therefore, collaboration with tattoo artists from other disciplines and styles can only continue to enrich and define my particular style.

How do you perceive Leuven?

Leuven might not be a grand city when it comes to its scale, but it definitely makes up for that thanks to its green and invigorating atmosphere. In recent years, there’s been a great deal of effort put into growing and rejuvenating the city. For instance, the new road circulation plan is drastically reducing car use in the city, allowing for the creation of more peaceful pockets throughout town. The city is constantly growing something I hope can last well into the distant future, and a green future at that. There’s a growing, tight-knit and cosy gang of delightful culinary visionaries, with something for everyone. From a fresh cone of French fries to a sophisticated seven-course menu, Leuven truly has it all. The City also offers various cultural events and artistic expressions, in strategic locations, which all hold my City together. Leuven is home, where it always feels calm, authentic and vibrant.

What would you say is Leuven’s main appeal as a city? What gives it its edge?

Leuven’s a cosy city – the familiarity between its entrepreneurs is precisely what makes me feel like I’m at home here. Additionally, because of Leuven’s obvious status as a student city, there’s a very fast-changing and young audience to be found here, consistently driving innovation and keeping the city up-to-date.

Leuven is home, where it always feels calm, authentic and vibrant.

What role has the city played in shaping your outlook and career?

As a young entrepreneur, I felt very much accepted in and by the city, enabling me to really focus on my artistic development. My very first year of running the shop taught me so much, shaped me into who I am today and I find myself continuing to grow as an individual as well as a manager.

To you, what is the best way to spend a weekend in Leuven? If you had to take out-of-towners to one place that truly symbolises the city, what would it be?

Start with a hot cup of coffee in one of Leuven’s many specialty bars. Take a walk through the city with its beautiful parks like Park Abbey, and its ancient buildings such as the Town Hall. Finally, end the day in De Fiere Margriet, the tiniest bar with a large selection of beers. No nonsense, just wooden chairs and tables, and a perfectly served pint.

A local legend, neighbourhood anecdote or urban myth that, to you, encapsulates the spirit of the city?

The statue Fiere Margriet, crafted by Willy Meysmans and located on the banks of the Dyle river, remains the most memorable local legend. The sculpture used to be located near my shop on Tiensestraat and ever since my younger years, before even knowing what the statue was all about, its picture was engraved in my mind. A true symbol of Leuven: beautiful in its simplicity, and a real added cultural value.