Hall of Fame – Tattoo World Records Part I
The Guinness Book of World Records is a gold mine for interesting tattoo facts. One of the most obvious records to hold would be that of having the most ink on your body.
The title of most tattooed woman in the world is held since 2017 by Charlotte Guttenberg. 71-year old Charlotte’s body is covered to 98,75% with ink. While saying that she always appreciated body art, and how she admired the former record holder Isobel Varley, Charlotte only got her first tattoo in her 50s! But she also says that she knew right away she was going to get a full body suit.
Isobel Varley from Yorkshire passed away in 2015, still holding the title of most tattooed female senior citizen. She too did not get her first tattoo until she was 49. It was only supposed to be that one bird, but then she, in her own words, developed an addiction. She went on to have over 200 pieces completed in only ten years. Isobel was 93% covered and her favourite tattoo was a family of tigers on her stomach.
Record breaking couple
Charlotte lives together with her partner Chuck Helmke, whom she met during one of her initial sessions and who also holds a Guinness world record. Most tattooed senior citizen in the world. The couple also features in other places of the record book — Chuck has the most number of skulls tattooed on the body (376), and Charlotte the most feathers (216). If there was an award for ‘Most romantic yet heartbreaking tattoo’ Chuck might win that one as well. He has a memorial tattoo to his deceased wife, featuring her name, her two favourite stuffed toys that used to travel with them, and — her ashes have been mixed in with the ink.
100% covered Lucky Rich
The most tattooed man, not senior, in the world is Lucky Diamond Rich, who lives in Australia (but is originally called Gregory Paul McLaren and from New Zealand). Having joined the circus at age 16, he is a multi-faceted street and international arts festival performer who swallows swords and juggles chainsaws while on a ten-foot unicycle. Lucky Rich has spent over 1000 hours having his body adorned by hundreds of different tattoo artists.
First, there were colourful designs from around the world. Then, he went for a 100% covering of black ink, including eye-lids (yes, insides as well), skin between toes, foreskin, down IN the ears,… and gums. He is now being tattooed with white designs on top of the black, and coloured designs on top of the white… ‘100% coverage’ doesn’t seem to do it justice. In addition to his tattoos, Lucky has had his earlobes stretched and his teeth replaced with silver veneers.
The Leopard of Skye
The title was held up until 2006 by the now departed Tom Leppard. As Tom’s taken last name suggests, he was covered from his head to his toes (but not in between them!) in a leopard-like pattern. Saffron background flecked with black spots. He retreated to the Isle of Skye in the 80s after 28 years of service in the Royal Navy. There he lived in a small solitary hut as a hermit for 20 years, and would travel by kayak to the mainland once a week to pick up groceries. The last few years before he passed in 2016, Tom spent in a retirement home outside of Inverness. Contrary to what one might think, he claimed to feel no particular affiliation with leopards. It was merely a pattern that was easy for tattooers to do on a large scale surface.