Megan O’Neill
Megan O’Neill
April 11, 2024 ·  3 min read

A Tattoo So Good You Don’t Even Notice It

When pure talent meets excellent skill, the result is always overwhelming. Eric Catalano is a hyperrealistic tattoo artist who came into the limelight when a photo of his work went viral. Eric tattooed a man’s nail beds back onto his fingers after they were amputated, and he did it for free! It’s nearly impossible to tell the difference between his old hand and the new one.

“I started offering free breast cancer tattoos to raise awareness” – Eric

In a chat with The Sun UK, Eric described how he got into designing hyperrealistic tattoos for amputees. His grandmother survived breast cancer after double mastectomies. He was much younger and hadn’t perfected the art then. When he finally did, he began to help women regain what they’ve lost, in a virtual way. He uses nothing but ink to draw, what look like real three-dimensional nipples on them, and it’s difficult to detect the difference just by looking at them.

“I started offering free breast cancer tattoos to raise awareness. Through that outlet, many of the women needed nipple tattoos after their mastectomies. I got to work on patenting and inventing a micro dermal implant that sits under the skin and has a silicone areola and nipple magnetized to the top as a way to give women a tangible nipple, instead of just raising awareness.” the 38-year-old dad of three said. “I couldn’t bring myself to charge them, and I’ve been doing them for free for 5 or 6 years now.”

Eric has been making them for 8 years now and he’s done over 75 pairs of 3D nipples free of charge. In his own words, “Most times, untrained nurses or surgeons (in the tattoo art) are performing nipple and areola tattoos that leave MUCH to be desired…”

“I couldn’t bring myself to charge them, they’ve already been through so much.”

Eric came into the limelight when a photo of one of his recent works went viral. A man who lost two of his fingernails in a fan accident wanted something to conceal his loss. He came to Eternal Ink Tattoo Studio, Eric’s workshop looking to get tattoos on each of his injured fingers. He wasn’t so enthusiastic about the whole thing. All he wanted was to have something remotely good, and he’d be on his way. “I don’t think he expected the realism that he received,” Eric said. “When I wiped the skin clean and he saw the lifelike realistic outcome, I could tell by his facial expression that his expectations were exceeded greatly and I could see relief and appreciation all over his face. It was really touching.”

Eric says he can’t bring himself to charge people who have gone through so much pain and loss for his services. Even when they offer to pay, he turns them down. His conscience would never permit him to take money for his services to amputees and cancer survivors.

Eric can’t afford to work for free anymore and needs financial support

The hyperrealistic tattoos aren’t cheap to produce. Eric requires special inks and materials for the effects to be flawless. He’s been working for free for many years now, and it’s starting to take a toll on his finances. After ‘nailing’ these tattoos, he’s been getting so many requests from all over the world. A lot of people are reaching out to him. He’s torn between ignoring their cries for help and charging them for his services. He can’t bring himself to take money for his work on amputees, and he has a family he needs to support.

He recently set up a Go Fund Me Page to source funds so he can continue his work for free. An excerpt from his story on the page read, “After lots and lots of pushing and pushing by people basically demanding me to get a funding site set up, I’m doing it. What this will allow is “angel” donations to pay me, for sufferers to receive their free tattoo work. Allowing me to help more and more people while still being able to support myself. If you can throw a little money at it, I can promise you’re helping one more person get in the door. Thank you!”


  1. Miranda Larbi. 2019, January 21. NAILED IT Man who had fingertips amputated has incredible new nails tattooed on. Retrieved from