Julia Gnuse (guh-NOO-see), commonly known by the nickname The Illustrated Lady, born in 1955, had 95% of her body (including her face) covered in tattoos and held the Guinness Record for being the most tattooed woman in the world. In her mid 30s, Gnuse developed porphyria, a condition in which sunlight results in blistering of the skin. As the blisters often result in scarring, she began getting tattoos as a way to cover up the scars, which can get as deep as third degree burns. A friend of Gnuse's who was a plastic surgeon had suggested she get her skin tattooed in a pale skin tone color, similar to the color of her scars. This was attempted but didn't turn out the way they had hoped.
• She was suffering from a skin condition called porphyria
, due to which her skin
got blistering when it was exposed to the sun
• In some cases, her scars
were as deep as third-degree burns.
• She was diagnosed with this condition in her 30’s, and she resorted to tattooing her entire body to hide the scars
• Most of the tattoos
she selected for herself were cartoons.
• The tattoos she had on her body even included a self-portrait.
• Her nickname
was "The illustrated lady."
• She used to do fast walking of more than twenty miles daily, and due to this, she was often referred to as the Irvine Walker by the media.
• She also had a small role in Aerosmith's music video for their song Pink
• She operated her own business named Sweet Temptations, which sold homemade pies and cookies
and pies for almost ten years.
• All of her products were manufactured using recipes from her Grandmother
• Even though many large bakery
companies approached her for opening a franchise to sell her products, she turned down their offers as she preferred to work independently.
• In the last years of her life, she tried to get rid of her tattoos by undergoing laser treatment
• She died at the age of 61.
The tattoos do not prevent the skin from blistering as they are purely aesthetic. Instead she decided to try colorful tattoos, consisting of a variety of themes including: her favorite cartoons, her favorite actors and even a self portrait. Gnuse has appeared on the tv show Ripley's Believe it or Not. She also had a small role in Aerosmith's music video for their song Pink.
In her last year she started to go through laser treatment to get all of her tattoos removed.
She lived in Foothill Ranch, California and died on August 11, 2016.