Luke Stewart‘s Bay Area career spans 15 years and has focused primarily toward Japanese-style body art. Known as one of the more spiritual forms, Japanese-style tattooing is one that vests its trust only in those who are willing and able to understand it. Stewart is the owner of Seventh Son Tattoo in San Francisco which specializes in large-scale work, mostly featuring Irezumi imagery.
As an American Irezumi artist, Luke must walk the fine line between expression of ability and cultural nuance. Playing the part both artistically and intuitively, Stewart never allows the traditional value or significance of Japanese symbolism to get lost in translation. His work reflects an intimacy within the craft; a profound celebration of the narrative behind the craft, and the way it writes Japanese history.
What distinguishes Japanese tattoos from other pieces is their ability to settle into their owner like a second skin. Size allows them to curl over shoulders, run down spines, and wrap around waists, dodging and looping where necessary.
The composition of the piece has to adhere to the rhythm of the body so as to abandon the title of ornament and become a physical part of the flesh. Beginning with the end in mind, Luke orchestrates within that flow down to every curve, leading to a highly sophisticated tattoo customized to fit an individual’s particularities.
Luke’s renderings of the human figure are exceptionally action-packed, immortalizing an often elusive subject. Although the content and line work do not directly reflect the classic principles of Irezumi, each tattoo employs a similar sense of symbolism, showcasing the artist’s creative fluidity and ability to manipulate his expertise to honor the client’s vision.
Luke Stewart is an example of the ever-expanding global tattoo culture and the purity of mind that the profession requires. His respect and enchantment with what he does, and the significant cultural meaning behind it, reverberates throughout his body of work.