Luke was born in 1982 in Minneapolis MN. In 2006 he left his work as a land surveyor and began painting full time, with Rembrandt and Odd Nerdrum books open next to his empty canvas. Luke immersed himself in apprenticeship, studying with Nerdrum, and traveling to museums and studios around the world to learn from the paintings of the old Masters whose tradition he seeks to follow.
Luke uses the palette of the Ancient Greek fresco painter Apelles, and paints from life using his friends as models, as well as the taxidermied animals he collects on his travels. His paintings illustrate the primal beauty of humans at their best and most noble. Their narratives tend to center around themes of death, kinship, ritual, and interactions with wilderness.
Luke Hillestad is represented by The Rymer Gallery in Nashville, the L'oeil du Prince Gallery in Paris, and Flanders and Rogue Buddha galleries in Minneapolis. His work has also been exhibited in Florida, Chicago, Norway, and Germany.