Local Tattoo & Piercing Shop Aims to Attract Student Clientele

Nightshade Tattoo and Body Piercing, located at 208 North Franklin Street, celebrated its
grand opening on January 30th, 2024 as students were gearing up for their spring semester.
Students with more free time on their hands as the semester comes to a close have the
opportunity to take advantage of a ten percent student discount at Nightshade and book with
owner Michael Duncan, artist Alex Jennings, or one of Nightshade’s two apprentices– Meg
Page and Ciara Chrisman. Those looking for a piercing rather than a tattoo can book with Linda
Duncan, the shop’s resident piercer and spouse of artist Michael. Nightshade is unique to other
shops in the local area, mainly due to its whimsical and earthy decor– which creates a very
different environment than the traditional biker-style tattoo parlor. The tattoo and piercing shop
also hosts several vendors in their space to support local craftsmanship. These include Mystic
Minds, which sells a variety of mystical and spiritual items, and The Bougie Beetle, which sells
enchanting entomological pieces by local artist Rachel Hale. Apprentice Meg Page also crafts
handmade jewelry available for sale in the shop.

However, it seems like Nightshade’s clientele is yet to expand to Truman State campus
despite offering a ten percent discount on services to all local university students. Duncan tells
TMN, “Most of the clientele I’ve already grown to be friends with, so it’s not a new thing. Most of
the people I’ve formed friendships with have just kind of followed me here, but I’m always
meeting new people every day and establishing more connections through the community.”
Duncan describes his journey into the art of tattooing as one word: luck. He studied trombone at
Truman State University for six years and gave passionate advice to current students, “Take
statistics! Because I stopped Truman a class short of two degrees because I could not pass
statistics.” After becoming a Kirksville local after his time at the university, Duncan began his
apprenticeship at Banzai Tattoo in Macon, MO, before the shop closed in 2011. Then, after
working at Ol’ Skool Tattoo in Kansas City, he returned to Kirksville. Duncan then remained
employed by Why Not Tat2’s, another local shop, until deciding to branch out and open his own
business. Duncan wants to tell Truman students “We’re directly competing with [shops in]
Columbia. I actually turned down a job at Living Canvas. And most of the Trumans students are
like, ‘oh Kirksville, it’s like, blegh’. It’s like they all think we’re not as… good as Columbia? And I
disagree. We’re trying really hard to be competitive.”
Despite the longstanding competition with Columbia shops, some Truman students
seem to have a positive attitude towards Kirksville’s newest tattoo and piercing shop. Freshmen
Zoe Walker and Tobi Bunch gave statements about their experience when Nightshade first
opened its doors. Walker says “Nightshade provided a very clean, efficient and affordable
atmosphere along with their amazing talents. I recommend this place for everyone.”, and Bunch
states that “For the price they charge, it’s really good quality and speed. I went in and got a
place and white piece the size of my forearm and was fully expecting to pay almost double what
I did. The staff is incredibly friendly and makes sure you’re comfortable. They even offer advice
on placement of things. Overall it was a great experience and I definitely plan on going back
Efforts to stay competitive with distant shops like those in Columbia have included the
student discount and products like SecondSkin, a waterproof tattoo aftercare product visually
similar to plastic wrap when placed on a fresh tattoo that has become increasingly popular in
shops around the country. The company’s website says that SecondSkin is “latex-free,
waterproof, breathable, and hypoallergenic,” making it a desirable option for those with skin
sensitivities or sensory issues that may otherwise be overwhelmed by the tattoo healing
On a more humorous note, when asked about his most bizarre tattoo experience,
Duncan says, “ With this being a college town, there’s a lot of fraternities. And they love butt
tattoos. They love getting their butts tattooed, so the weirdest one I’ve ever done is probably,
like, this realism Pepsi can on… on the buttocks. I don’t know. He just really loved Pepsi. I also
did this huge Batman symbol under this guy’s eye.” This sparked a discussion about tattoos in
prominent areas, often referred to as “job-stoppers,” and can include the face, neck, or hand
areas, among others visible in typical workplace attire. These tattoos can make it difficult for
individuals to secure employment in industries where tattoos are not widely accepted. When
asked if he advises individuals on tattoo placement, Duncan states, “Absolutely. We usually give
the disclaimer, especially to younger people because it seems like it’s gotten popular to get their
hands or their necks done.”
Passionate about his work, Duncan says, “I think it’s a really fun process, and it’s, you
know, something that you remember obviously your whole life. And it’s not just about the tattoo.
It’s about the experience of it all. You earned it!” For those interested in booking a tattoo or
piercing appointment with Nightshade, Duncan says it’s always best to stop by the shop during
opening hours to schedule. Nightshade Tattoo is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday and
Wednesday through Sunday. Those with further questions can call their shop at (660) 956-0372
or reach out via their Facebook page