Stef, Illusion of Light.

My tattoos are a struggle between shadow and light

par Simone Sacco pour Tattoo Life

A riveting interview with a tattoo artist who, after traveling all over the world and experimenting with every kind of art, has found home in Luxembourg

Stef, would you like to introduce yourself to our readers? Because it seems a bit reductive to just introduce you as a “tattoo artist” since you sculpt and paint like an all-round artist…

Actually it’s true to say that I do a lot of things. Aside from my work at the shop – doing drawings and tattoos – I always try to manage to have some time left over to work on my paintings and sculptures, my side projects. Since I was young and first started to work, I have always had jobs in arts or graphics. I started out as a technical drawer in architecture, the traditional way with Rotring and tracing paper. I spent some time as in illustrator, specialized in realistic art with airbrush, and then cartoon animator and movie designer for almost 10 years.

And what about tattoo art?

I finally went to tattoos at the end of the 20th century, but I was still fascinated by painting and sculpture techniques. Now, when I can find some time, I keep it up, mostly with paintings and various sculptural materials like wood, resin, or cardboard. I also like traditional engraving on copper and I play some music (yeah, I can play various instruments too!). I’m also a photographer sometimes for special missions. So, I’ve learned a lot of things, various techniques that seem really different from one another, but in the end there’s kind of a consistency and I’m not so eclectic in my choices.

What do you mean by that?

Well, in every form of art, painting, sculpture, or architecture, you can find the same rules, the same logic, the same principles. You have composition in painting, you have composition in music, contrast, harmony, rhythm etc. You can find the same rules of creation in every form of art – you just have to understand them and create links. Whether you decide to respect them or not, you have to know them. In that way, you can learn a lot about painting tricks and techniques while making music, for example, you can learn a lot about tattoo while making sculptures. The tools are different, but the rules are the same!

How would you describe your art? Looking at your tattoos I noticed an originality that seems to come from a multitude of influences. Would you agree?

This is a very long story. I travelled a lot for many years. When I was a cartoon animator I used to travel from one production to another. In most cinema studios, some periods are devoted to pre-production or post-production. So there’s no job for most of the drawers and they have to move and find another place, another studio, another movie. That’s the reason why I started to travel all over Europe pretty young, one movie after another, one country after another…

Go on, you’ve had a really interesting life so far…

Ok, when I started tattooing, maybe 23 years ago, moving was just a part of my life. I l to North Africa, tattooing some Australian and Germans surfers. I was working in a truck, on the beaches of Taghazut or Essaouira, or in a mobile home up on the cliffs of Cornwall, England, in front of the sea. Or travelling through Europe to meet the great artists of that time, to try to get some tips and tricks.

I’ve got some amazing memories of that period, but what a change it was after the comfort of animation studios like Canal+ and UbiSoft! (laughs) And I never really stopped moving from that time on, from the USA to New Zealand, passing through China, Japan, Australia, and all of Europe.

I’m beginning to understand your job philosophy…

Yeah! Working with a lot of different artists in tattoo studios, sharing arts, techniques, and beers too, that’s where you really meet people and get solid influences that make sense to you! Even if I’m not always conscious of these influences, because I don’t force them, I know, for example, that my negative work on tattoos come from the traditional Maori style that I really discovered in New Zealand, with the double read of the drawing like positive and negative. And there’s definitely some cartoon influences in my Japanese style drawings.

And even though I spent so much time in Japan, I tried to keep my own expression.

What exactly do you mean by “Illusion Of Light,” aka your nickname on Instagram? Is this something you employ in your work?

“Illusion Of Light” is a struggle! The best way to explain would be to talk about the great master Leonardo da Vinci. Leonardo had a theory about light at the turn of the 16th century, that he called the “Theory of Shadow Rays”. Let’s imagine a sculpture for example, and how we can reveal it to the world? For Leonardo there’s two different elements, forces, that make the piece appear to us – the source of light and the source of shadows.

Let’s start with the first.

Yeah! There’s a source of light, sending light rays, it’s pretty intuitive, that gives light to the sculpture, like the sun or a candle. And the opposite, on the other side of this artwork, maybe below, there’s a source of shadows, sending shadow rays, and bringing darkness to the sculpture. And the piece is revealed by this war, by this battle between lights and shadows. The light sending its rays on one side, the darkness sending shadow rays from the opposite, and duel at the fringe, creating some in-between tones. This sounds so poetic to me… (smiles)

Ok, so now let’s get down to to your tattoos…

Well, that’s basically what I feel when I’m tattooing, this fight between light and darkness on the skin. The skin of people is never white, we are all different, but nobody’s white. Tattoo ink is never black, sometimes dark blue, sometimes dark green, or whatever, but never black.

And the game is to give the maximum contrast, navigating between non-white and non-black tones to give the illusion of maximum contrast, of black and white, of light. And I try to use all the tools we have, inks of course, but also the rules of composition, rhythm, harmony, readability, movement, etc.

All these tricks that also interact to make the tattoo last longer with time, without fading too fast.

That’s something I always keep in mind! Incidentally, ‘Illusion Of Light’ has been the name of the shop for 15 or 20 years, that was originally located in Paris and is now in Pétange, Luxembourg, and it’s also a kind of a nickname for me, that has followed me all through my career.

Tell me about your workplace in Luxembourg…

The tattoo studio “Illusion Of Light” is located in Pétange, Luxembourg. There are just two of us in there. I’m working with Fred, the piercer, only by appointment. A few friends doing amazing work sometimes come as guests artists, but mostly the place is pretty quiet and dedicated to art and creation.

t’s more an Atelier than a Tattoo shop. As I travelled for so many years, following my circuit tour of guest spots over and over, from one place to another, one country to another, through Europe and Asia, I needed to stop running after trains and planes, running after time with my giant luggage, and I finally found a place where I can feel good and quiet and people are coming to me.

And your famous last words are…?

Let there be light!

Interviem by Simone Sacco for Tattoo Life.


Les canards déchaînés, six sculptures par Stepnane Riccio…


Stef, Illusion of Light…

Jérôme Pierrat dans tatouage magazine, il y a près de 15 ans…« Avec le calme qui l’ habite, ses petites lunettes et sa moustache, le jeune homme ressemble plus à un horloger suisse qu’a un ancien illustrateur de bandes dessinées»…

Finalement, après avoir bien étudié la question, il laissera tomber la moustache!…

e, un bon vieux cutter… À l’époque où un décalage d’un 10e de millimètres sur le papier pouvait avoir une répercussion de 10cm sur le bâtiment… Mais, bonne nouvelle, jusqu’à aujourd’hui, aucun des immeubles qu’il a dessiné ne s’est encore écroulé…

conscience professionnelle ?…

nnées d’illustrateur, dans un style réaliste au crayon ou à l’aérographe, de ces années passées dans le milieu du dessin animé, où il officiait en tant qu’animateur ou storyboarder…

blette graphique, en deux dimensions ou en volume comme ces sculptures impressionnantes qui accaparent la plupart de son temps libre quand il n’est pas en train de se jeter d’un avion en vol… Et en chute libre…

oici quelques villes ou vous pourrez le rencontrer pour vos futurs projets :

Perpignan, Montpellier, Lyon, Paris, Nantes, Épinal, Metz, …

Mais aussi :

Perpignan, Montpellier, Lyon, Paris, Nantes, Épinal, Metz, …

Retrouvez-moi sur Instagram:


29 ,rue Robert KRIEPS, 4702 Pétange, Luxembourg.

Stef StefK Illusion of Light Luxembourg

Salut à tous !
J’ai le plaisir de vous annoncer l’ouverture de notre nouvelle boutique « Illusion of Light », au 29 ,rue Robert KRIEPS, 4702 Pétange, au Luxembourg.

Besalu story 1

Salut ! Je serai présent chez Four Roses Tattoo à Barcelone du 25 au 30 juin 2018… Contactez-moi pour plus de renseignements !

Four roses

Spécial guest tatouage au moulin !

Moulin guest

Je serai présent à la Convention de MONTPELLIER, contactez-moi par e-mail ou Fb pour plus de renseignements…

Fb / Steftattoos


Je serai present à la Convention de PAU, contactez-moi par e-mail ou Fb pour plus de renseignements…

Fb / Steftattoos

affiche tattoo

Je serai présent au Mondial du Tatouage, du 9 au 11 mars 2018, contactez-moi par e-mail ou Fb pour plus de renseignements…

Fb / Steftattoos


Je serai présent au Mondial du Tatouage, du 3 au 5 mars 2017, contactez-moi par e-mail ou Fb pour plus de renseignements…

Fb / Steftattoos


Je serai présent à la convention de Milan, du 3 au 5 février 2017, avec Belly , n’hésitez pas a me contacter pour discuter de vos projets ou pour prendre rendez-vous…


Je serai présent à la convention de Nantes, du 7 au 9 octobre 2016, avec Aurélio du Belly Button Tattoo Shop, n’hésitez pas a me contacter pour discuter de vos projets ou pour prendre rendez-vous…


Je serai présent à la convention de Perpignan en septembre, n’hésitez pas a me contacter pour plus de renseignements ou pour prendre rendez-vous…


Étiquette de bière réalisée pour le brasseur « Le Chaudron Catalan » de Bages (P.O.)…