This week I was lucky enough to attend the first screening of Duncan X documentary short at Into You, London. Duncan X is an iconic figure in the tattoo world, and his strong black tattoos – both on his body and in his portfolio – are unique and synonymous with him.
The film is beautifully made by director (and customer of Duncan’s) Alex Nicholson. Duncan speaks openly and honestly about his past, drug taking, tattoos and his son – by the end of the film, I was so moved I had tears streaming down my face. Duncan’s words would be moving if it was just him talking, but the film is made more powerful by Nicholson’s collaboration with MPC’s Motion Design Studio, and Duncan’s own tattoos come to life on his body as he tells his stories.
After the seven-minute film was over, I approached Duncan to congratulate him, and got to have a wonderful half an hour chat with him. I have always seen Duncan as a private man within a public sphere, and he agreed that was the case liking to keep away from social media – he doesn’t want customers to see a constant stream of his work. He doesn’t like to follow “tattoo trends”, either, or read tattoo magazines, as there is too much temptation to copy and imitate, and he never wants to do that.
Duncan also told me that when he first started getting tattooed, he did it to scare and repel people, however he is glad that his tattoos don’t really have that effect nowadays. He also said that he has become “cool”, but it wasn’t his intention. Duncan has a very powerful style of tattooing, so I asked him how he liked to work with his customers and create pieces for them. He said that he often sits down with his sketch book, to get a a feel for the drawings that people are drawn to – and equally what they do not like. I also asked Duncan about his son, who he talks about in the film. Duncan would like to be the first person to tattoo him, however as he wants a Japanese sleeve, he may not be the best person for the job.
Duncan chatted to me in a very open and honest way, and that also very much comes across in the film, which you can watch here.