He was born and died in Amsterdam, where he learned engraving from his father Kaspar Luyken. He married at 19 and had several children, of who Kasparus Luiken also became a renowned engraver. In his twenty-sixth year, he had a religious experience that inspired him to write moralistic poetry.
He also published Het Menselyk Bedryf ("The Book of Trades") in 1694, which contains numerous engravings, by Luiken and his son Caspar (Caspaares), of 17th century trades.
Joris-Karl Huysmans' anti-hero Des Esseintes in À rebours was an admirer of Luyken's engravings and had prints from his Religious Persecutions hung in his drawing room. He described them as 'appalling engravings containing all the tortures that the madness of religion could devise.' Des Esseintes was enthralled not just by Luyken's graphic depictions but his ability to reconstruct times and places in his works.