Celebrity tattoo artist Luke Wessman talks about his quest to revive the lost art of the gentleman. Interviewed by Sarah Gidick, Photographed by Mike Azria.
Photos by Mike Azria, May 2014, Beverly Hills, California.
Luke Wessman is a gentleman, in every sense of the word. The self-made tattoo artist hailing from Southern California, works at Wooster Street Social Club in New York City. At the Beverly Hills home of fashion designer Max Azria, we sat down to discuss his philosophy on being a gentleman, friendship, and one of his most important tattoos.
The Instagram account @lostartofthegentleman, with over 15,000 followers, is the crown jewel of Luke’s social media reign. The account was created after he came out of a long relationship, which had resulted in a whole new perspective on dating. Being in NYC and not being a “ladies man,” required him to lean back on his morals and traditions. “I never had to think about it. I was reintroduced to them in a different way.” The posts on Lost Art of the Gentleman reflect his views on dating and how women should be treated, with posts corresponding to events unfolding in his life.
The Lost Art of the Gentleman is not just for men. The page encourages women to have a stronger sense of self, and Luke has been called a modern-day feminist by many of his followers. “I know for a fact that if women demanded better they would most certainly receive better. Women have great power. By demanding respect, women can create more of it for themselves; this goes for men as well. Some of these values and rules can be put into action just by awareness, a lot of these young men and women don't know any better, they don't really have good examples or role models. Some guys think it's cool to be a creep and some women don't realize a lot of what they do make them look cheap.”
After every thousandth follower, Luke takes the time to thank continued followers and new ones as well. “Followers are important to any brand. If I'm a brand with zero followers, I don't exist. I give them something in return, a view on what hard work, honesty, integrity, loyalty and friendship gets you….I really like the kind of people that follow me.”
It became apparent that Luke has a lot of respect for all those involved in his life. The importance of friendship to him was made especially clear, by the seriousness in his tone: “My friendships are more important to me than most people realize. After not having a family structure after the age of 15, my friends truly became my family. I don't think they really realize how important they are to me, because they all have their own families to fall on, but to me they are it.”
One of Luke’s most important tattoos are the letters “P.M.A.” on his hand, which stands for “positive mental attitude.” This idea stems from a song by Washington D.C. punk band “Bad Brains,” who adapted this line of thought from American author Napoleon Hill. His close friend Toby Morse brought PMA to the mainstream through friends and his work through “One Life, One Chance,” where he encourages children and young adults to live a positive lifestyle and stay drug free. Luke believes in the power of positive thinking and that it’s contagious. “Positive thinking enhances your life in a lot of aspects it turns a negative into a positive.”
At the end of our conversation, Luke mentioned his favorite quote by 18th century philosopher Thomas Paine: “The world is my country, all mankind are my brethren, and to do good is my religion.” The idea of the embodiment of one world, people, and humanity appeals to him. “One of the greatest things about being a tattoo artist is you get to connect to people on every level. Happiness, sadness, death, celebrity, it’s life. It’s bigger than tattooing for me.”
Luke Wessman promotes ideas that have been lost on men and women for quite some time. With a book set to release at the end of this year, rapid fan growth, and deep sense of self, without a doubt he will achieve his quest; reviving the lost art of the gentleman.