Matthew Lukesh Tattoo & Fine Artist

by Christina Diaz

{E}: Were you artistic as a child?
ML: Yes, without a doubt. Growing up in the woods of northern New Jersey with no other kids to play with left my options limited: play with my sister or explore through my imagination. My parents, both artistic in their own ways, always supported me. They still do. We didn’t always have the toys I wanted, but art supplies were always available. Imagination and parental support were my cornerstones.

{E}: Are you self-taught or did you attend a trade school?
ML: A little of everything but mostly self-taught. I originally went to college for art, but after a semester or two I couldn’t stand it anymore and left to pursue my English degree. At the age of 18, I wasn’t interested in fundamentals or structure. Looking back, I’ve realized that I carried much of that information with me; something I’m quite grateful for. Post-college, everything was experimenting, reading and picking the brains of many other artists.

{E}: Tell us about your art. How would you describe it?
ML: Oh. THAT question? Always a tough one and I’m glad I’m struggling for an answer. I don’t go out of my way to say anything with my art because I’m so hell bent on “getting it right;” putting much more focus on technique as opposed to a narrative.
However, at the moment, I am working on a large project entitled “The Devil’s House” which has A LOT to say but it’s still in the works so stay tuned.

{E}: What inspires you?
ML: Everything, both good and bad. Calm and terror. Classical music and grindcore. My children and wife one moment, then atrocious war documentaries the next. There’s something inspirational in everything.
As a tattooist, I’m inspired by so much of the work today. Just when I’m happy with a particular tattoo and post it online, I stumble across something divine (usually from Eastern Europe). In the past it would frustrate me endlessly, but now I’m at a place where I use it as propulsion to push me further.

{E}: Whom are some of your favorite artists (tattooers or painters) and why?
ML: Jeff Gogue, first and foremost for many reasons. Anyone who has spent time with Jeff knows how emotionally invested he is with whatever he’s creating, whether it’s tattooing or painting. His dedication to his art and work ethic is something that I aspire to reach towards.

As for painting, Caravaggio is my all-time favorite for his use of chiaroscuro. Being a colorblind artist I’m instantly drawn to value and contrast. It’s what I have to work with. For the same reason, I love the work of Anders Zorn and Lucien Freud who used minimal color palettes.

{E}: What are some of your favorite art tools?
ML: Oils. Everything about oil paint. I love the smell of cadmium barium. I love the smell of a cedar paint case. These scents are some of my first memories. I love destroyed brushes which make marks that only a worn brush can – both cheap and expensive brushes. I love Liquin but am really starting to turn to Galkyd and Gamsol for my medium and thinner.

{E}: Tell us about the first time you performed a tattoo.
ML: Ugh. Memories. After months of tattooing pigskin my employer threw one of his biker buddies at me with no preparation. By the time we started, the regular ballbusters showed up, only making it more of a challenging nightmare. It was a rough day, the tattoo sucked, but I’m greatly appreciative of that moment. It was the start of this, so far, fifteen year journey.

Check out more of
Matthew Lukesh’s work at:
Seppuku Tattoo
145 Main St.
Bloomingdale, NJ 07403
Instagram @matthewlukeshart

Matthew Lukesh Tattoo & Fine Artist