Have you ever wanted to do something you're passionate about, but someone always held you back? Now imagine living like that for over 55 years. This was how Charlotte Guttenberg felt when she was forced to suppress her love for body art by her first husband.
He had told her on more than one occasion that "No lady should have tattoos," despite having tattoos himself.
However, a few years after her husband's death, Guttenberg decided that she would no longer be controlled by anyone and on her 57th birthday she got her first tattoo.
"I was trying to decide, 'What could I do for myself that would be really special?'" she recalled. "I decided, 'I'm going to get a tattoo!'"
The writer, personal trainer and life coach settled for a butterfly design on her chest, which represented her newfound freedom.
Although not planned, over the next decade Guttenberg covered her body, head to toe, in tattoos that altogether took over 1,000 hours to complete. Her dedication earned her the Guinness World Record title for the Most Tattooed Senior Citizen (Female).
"I consider myself a walking art gallery," she said in an interview with Guinness World Records. "I can always entertain myself by looking at my own tattoos."
Today, 67-year-old Guttenberg has 91.5% of her body inked in intricate and colorful designs, but it is not just for aesthetics.
"Every tattoo I have has a meaning to me. They all flow into a story."
Guttenberg was inspired by senior record holder Isobel Varley, who died in 2015. She is carrying on Varley's legacy by being an ambassador that spreads awareness for body art.
Following her passion also led Guttenberg to her current partner, Charles “Chuck” Helmke. They pair met while Guttenberg was getting a painful garter tattoo and unlike her former husband, Chucks loves her tattoos and all.
“I wandered into the tattoo studio one night, and they asked me if I was busy,” Chuck recalled in an interview with People. “And they said, ‘We have a lady here who’s getting a full garter tattoo and, you know, ‘Would you just talk to her, distract her?’ So I held her hand and babbled for two hours.”
The U.S. Army veteran is no stranger to using his body as a canvas. He got his first tattoo while serving in the Army in 1959 and after a hiatus that lasted over 40 years, he made up for lost time by adding to his tattoo collection. He has 93.75% of his body covered and at 75 years old, he holds the Guinness World Record for the Most Tattooed Senior Citizen (Male).
Both Guttenberg and Chuck have plans to add more work to their body gallery despite the lack of space. The well-matched couple continue to take part in competitions at tattoo conventions and often travel across the country to help people better understand and tolerate body art.
Guttenberg views tattoos as a "beautiful, ancient art form and that respect for the individual should extend to include how we decide to decorate our bodies."
You can watch the tatted up pair talk about their story in the video below:
Most Tattooed Senior Citizens Charlotte & Chuck
Meet the world's most tattooed senior citizens Charlotte Guttenberg and Chuck Helmke (USA). We're welcoming this remarkable couple to our New York HQ today to celebrate the release of the new #GWR2017 book, out now. Post your questions for Charlotte and Chuck in the comments - please bear in mind the GWR values of respect and inclusiveness #FacebookLivePosted by Guinness World Records on Friday, September 9, 2016
What do you think about Charlotte Guttenberg and Chuck's tattoos?