The Artist: Luke Wessman [NYC Feature]
I was back in NYC to visit my girlfriend who was doing her internship there. It was 3 days before I was going to leave for home (yes! I usually get my tattoos before I head home) that I headed to Wooster Street Social Club, the home of NY ink to get another tattoo (They posted on their Facebook page that Luke was doing walk-ins that day).
So I told Luke that I wanted the theme to be a rose and a skull. He then told me to come back in 30 mins while he did the sketches.
That seemed to be the longest 30 mins of life. The anticipation as to what Luke had prepared was killing me.
Name: Luke Wessman
Profession: Tattoo Artist at Wooster Street Social Club
Every tattoo artist come into the scene in a different way. For Luke, tattoos started out as a form of protection.
“The area I lived in was predominantly a gang area, I grew up learning that the tougher you look (equals to being more tattooed) the better. As for getting into tattooing, I grew up around my older brothers friends. One of his friend tattooed out of his house and that’s where I started to try tattooing out.”
Since then, Luke made a commitment. A commitment towards tattooing as a career choice.
“I have been tattooing for 16 years now, but 14 as a professional. The first 2 years were pretty much out of home. When I decided that wanted to do it (tattooing) as a career I put everything into my work, getting an apprenticeship at a proper shop and all.”
On his tattooing style
Luke’s tattooing style has been coined at “traditional gangster” in which he explains:
“My style of “traditional gangster” is basically cause I started out doing the black and grey, old english, bold words style that was associated with the gangs at that time, and the straight, classic and evergreen traditional tattoos that I started with at the proper tattoo shop that are full of longevity. Basically it’s pretty much a mix of both here and there throughout my work.”
On his motto in life
When I first met Luke, I noticed that his both knuckles were tattooed with the phrase “Self Made”. This time round, being able to interview him, I found out the story behind it.
“Self Made, Dues Paid is the full phrase that I live by. I basically grew up doing everything myself, thus the saying. When I got it on my knuckles that when I started to embrace it even more. It’s pretty much the fundamentals of what I lived by.”
However, he admits that in recent years or getting older has made it difficult to live by it.
“Getting older has made it feel a little harder to live by it. This is due to all my great friends around and they’re always helping me and giving me extra pushes to do better as compared to the first part of my life n which Ii didnt really have much help and had to do everything on my own.”
I do however disagree with Luke on this matter, and so I told him. For without hard work, great friendships, and motivation would not matter. It’s us ourselves that has to make things happen. Which he duly agreed, giving me a big smile and a pat on my back.
“Thats true! Now I don’t feel so bad! Haha.”
When asked about if he feels that his dues are being paid, Luke mentioned,
“Definitely! I have been tattooing now for over a decade and to see my work being recognised and appreciated is fulfilling yet weird. Its just amazing to see that people are appreciating my work and the amount of opportunities that I have been presented with.”
“However, Some people have said that I’m so lucky to be able to travel all over the world etc etc. But man, it took many years and it was built through hard work, friendships and more hard work.”
On his influences and lessons learned
From the first moment that I met Luke, I never once felt a sense of arrogance, despite him working at the NY Ink studio. The impression he left on me was on true humbleness. As such, he mentioned to me that one of the greatest lesson that he has learnt through tattooing would be that of Humility.
“Humility is definitely my biggest lesson. The situation that i’m being put in daily would alter anyone’s life. The seriousness of the situation is definitly there. To be able to have my clients trust for my work it’s definitely very humbling.”
This he feels he has learnt through his friends whom are also his biggest influences.
“Dan Dringenberg, David Gibson and Tim Hendrix are definitely my biggest influences and they have taught me so much, especially to be humble. For this, I will always be grateful and thankful towards them.”
On his other projects
Apart from tattooing, Luke likes to surf, cycle and paint. Always filling his days with activities so that there would never be a dull moment.
He is also the founder of The lost Art of The Gentleman (@lostartofthegentleman). This side project of his to promote his thoughts on Family, Love, Relationships, Manhood, Life and Ladies. Basically about values and how the system has cause many to take advantage of and his plans to promote the ways in which we should think about and how we could always be someone better.
Thank you Luke for this opportunity to meet you once again and for taking the time to speak to me. You are really someone whom I admire and your positivity has sure sure inspired me to do that things that I want to do and to take pride in it. Here’s to wishing you all the best always and till next time!
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