Ricky Genest was well known for his appearance as one of the most tattooed people in the world with 90% of his body being inked. His extreme body modification inspired thousands of people and he was a figurehead for outcasts and those who felt like they didn’t fit in.

His tattoos propelled him as a muse for celebrities like Lady Gaga and Jay Z, artists like Marc Quinn, designer Thierry Mugler and lead him to acting opportunities with the likes of Keanu Reeves.

Lady Gaga, who featured him in her Born This Way music video, took to Twitter late on Thursday night to offer her condolences and to encourages others to speak out about their mental health.

Besides rubbing shoulders with some of the most famous people in the world he also had a huge fan base who loved and admired him for having the confidence to be himself.

Thousands of heartbroken fans have flooded his Facebook and Instagram, describing him as “an inspiration”, “unique”, “a pioneer and a hero” and “living art”.

Genest was also the recipient of two Guinness World Records one for having the most bones tattooed on his body at 139 and another for the most insect tattoos, with 176. Montreal based Frank Lewis was the tattoo artist behind Genest’s creations.