We recently caught up with record holder Matt Gone (USA) in Colmar, France at a tattoo convention.
Matt has held the record of most squares tattooed on the body since 2014 with a total of 848, as verified on the set of Lo Show dei Record in Milan, Italy.
The tattooed squares are spread over Matt's body, with 201 squares tattooed on his head alone.
- Head: 201
- Shoulders: 190
- Torso and arms: 251
- Legs: 180
- Genitalia: 26
When we spoke to him recently, we asked – why squares?
“I realized at a young age that checkers were everywhere. Children’s toys, bathroom floors, art, fashion, even in ancient cave paintings,” said Matt.
“It was an original idea and in tattooing, that’s the hardest thing to do.”
"I’m asymmetrical - I have birth defects on one side of my body – so I like the symmetry of the checker that camouflages the asymmetry on my body.”
In addition to his square tattoos, Matt has a number of other tattoos which have been done by 155 different people. These include a phoenix (around his neck) flowers (on his ears) a compass (on the top of his head) and much more.
In fact, during the tattoo convention in France, he had another tattoo done on the back of his right calf, the iconic star and pedestal from the GWR logo.
“I barely feel it,” said Matt as he was getting inked.
“I don’t really feel tattoos – I don’t feel much pain anymore.”
But that’s not to say he can’t recall a particularly painful tattooing experience.
“The most painful spot on the body to get tattooed is the nose. I sneezed black ink for about 20 minutes after that. It was the most painful thing I’d ever been through.”
Matt also has other body modifications including piercings and a laser brand of a heart on his chest, over his own.
His love for tattoos started at the young age of 14.
“My first tattoo, I did on myself at age 14 using a needle and India ink.”
When I was 15 years old, my mother couldn’t stand the homemade tattoo and let me get a professional tattoo. That was 1985.”
“Tattooing wasn’t popular or cool and there was no internet when I got in to it.”
“Tattooing was for people who weren’t part of society and that’s what I liked about it. I like having the freedom to look my own way. A lot of this represents personal freedom in my appearance.”
As he got older, he decided to have a bodysuit tattooed, which is a network of tattoos extending from his collarbone to his ankles and wrists.
The work was undertaken by five artists over nine hour sessions across multiple days.
“You just couldn’t walk for three days afterwards.”
Matt also has some rare and extreme tattoos – including his tongue and throat.
“My tongue is tattooed but it’s hypodermic injection. I actually modernised the technique for tongue tattooing back in 2010. Do NOT do this at home.”
Matt has also had his eyeballs tattooed multiple times.
“I think I was number six in the world to get their eyes tattooed. Originally I had green in this eye [right] and blue in this eye [left]. Then three years later I had multiple colours added, magenta and gold.
However, tattooing for Matt is more than just an expression of his style. It has helped him reshape his body.
“I have a total of 14 different rare birth defects that they’ve discovered. They are still discovering more.”
“I have something called Poland syndrome where I’m missing my left pectoral, a bicep, a kidney.”
Matt used the art of tattooing to create the illusion of an even chest, by having the shape of a pectoral tattooed on his left side, and disguising the protrusion of his right pectoral muscle on his right side with a large tattoo that extends from the top right hand corner down to the centre of his chest.
“My ribcage is deformed, these shapes all hide the deformities of the torso.”
Matt, who has gastrointestinal abdominal swelling and bloating problems, also had a spiral shape tattooed across his stomach which helps camouflages it.
“Tattoos make me enjoy my body. I’m not tall, I have a high voice, and the tattoos made me like my body more. It made me enjoy living in my body despite all these mutations and birth defects.”
In addition to appreciating his own body and the artwork displayed on it, Matt also loves sharing his unique look with others.
“Before the pandemic I was travelling to 10 to 12 tattoo conventions a year. Some people have me booked every year for the rest of my life.”
The recognition of his Guinness World Records title is the cherry on top for Matt, who quite literally - with a GWR medallion - wears his record with pride.
“This is the peak of my life. I’m going to die a happy man. I feel like I’ve succeeded in my life because of this.”