Luke was born in 1982 in Minneapolis. In 2006 he left his work as a land surveyor and began painting full time, with Rembrandt and Odd Nerdrum books open next to an empty canvas. He immersed himself in apprenticeship, later studying with Nerdrum, and traveled to museums and studios around the world to learn from the paintings of the old Masters whose tradition he seeks to follow.
Using the palette of the Ancient Greek painter Apelles Luke paints friends and a collection of taxidermied animals, illustrating the primal beauty of humans at their most noble with narratives that center on themes of death, kinship, ritual, and 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.