With tattoos that curl up his arms and around his neck and a burly muscled body, Duncan, a bodybuilder from Swindon, looks every inch the ink fan.
But there’s a twist. For Duncan, tattoos are an expression of the things that are most important to him and right now, that’s his dog, Thor.
Thor, who died last year, is to be the subject of Duncan’s latest inking: a portrait of the dog, complete with angel wings created from a mixture of tattoo ink – and Thor’s ashes.
Duncan is one of the stars of new Channel 4 documentary, My Tattoo Addiction, which follows the bodybuilder and fellow tattoo fans Paul and Batman-obsessive Chris as they go under the needle for the umpteenth time.
For Duncan, that means his memorial portrait of his pet. ‘It is hard… I do miss him,’ reveals the Swindon tattoo fan, who already has the pets name tattooed across his knuckles.
He adds: ‘I think it’ll be a nice finish to his story… on my skin. It’ll be nice to have him with me, to make him part of me. It’s going to be a last gesture of ink to the mighty Thor.’
Equally enamoured with body art is Duncan’s friend Paul, a father of six with more than 70 tattoos – including several that curl around his face.
Over the last three years, Paul has gone from clean-skinned to tattooed from head to foot and, incredibly, says that having the etchings has made him more confident.
‘I just want to be the most tattooed man in Swindon, really,’ he says when asked why he’s chosen to have so many inkings.
‘I want to beat everyone else out there. I want to be the man with the most tattoos.Some people might just have one tattoo and be done with it but me, I can’t stop. I want to get as covered as I can – from head to foot – that’s what I want to do.’
But having so many tattoos does come with a downside. Paul, who now works piercing ears and other body parts in a local tattoo parlour, was unemployed for two years before being given his current role.
‘People look at it and think “oh, he should be part of the gang and go round beating people up” – they treat me like scum,’ says Paul of people’s reactions to his tattooed and pierced visage.
And it isn’t just people in the street – it’s Job Centre staff as well. ‘One of them said in the past, “don’t you think it’s your own fault you can’t get a job because of your facial tattoos?”‘ he revealed.
‘It shouldn’t make a difference whether I’ve got facial tattoos or not,’ he complains. ‘To me that was a form of discrimination.’
But not everyone gets tattoos because, like Paul, they want to stand out. For some, getting a tattoo is a way of blending in.
Among them is Helen, 43, from Bedfordshire, who is seen having nipples tattooed onto her reconstructed breasts which were removed following cancer treatment.
‘We went away and I was topless on the beach,’ she reveals. ‘[My lack of nipples] was a bit obvious walking about on the beach and I just want to be a normal person like everyone else.’
Helen, however, is a rarity. Many more, reveals the documentary, get their tattoos while under the influence – and what the majority get are names.
‘A good 60 per cent of customers get a name on them,’ reveals Lancashire tattooist Lee.
‘They always think, “yeah, well we’ve been together less than 24 hours now and we love each other so, yeah, lets have a crack at getting the names”. It never lasts!’
In the Spanish resort of Magaluf, a stream of drunken revellers are filmed going into beachside tattoo parlours and having names, symbols and, in one case, a swastika tattooed on their rear ends.
Many are bizarre, including the one that reads ‘Ginge’ in Arabic. ‘Most people want three things when they get drunk,’ explains Taylor, a club rep based in the resort. ‘A kebab, a bird and a tattoo!’
It makes Duncan and his doggy tribute seem rather touching, particularly when he rather sweetly adds: ‘It’s been a year since he passed now and it’s still raw, very raw. I miss him a lot. It’s just comforting.’
On seeing his completed new tattoo for the first time, he adds: ‘People just see it as tattoos or as artwork. I don’t do it for people to ask me about it.
He’s [Thor] up there, up there watching over all of us. It’s perfect [the tattoo]. I couldn’t ask for a better end for the little man. He’s got his little wings attached and he can flap about happily in heaven.’
That surely beats having the name of a one-night wonder tattooed on your backside.