Art and family offer a healthy balance


Photo Provided to The Clarion

Artist Tony Catteruccia and his daughter walk past one of the murals he painted downtown Madison this summer.

Hailey Griffin , Arts Editor

Throughout his transition from childhood to adulthood, one thing was constant for Tony Catteruccia: his love for art.  

Since he was a kid, Catteruccia knew that he wanted to pursue a career in art“Nothing really made sense as a child, as a pre-teen, as a teen, as a young adult, nothing made sense to me like art did,” said Catteruccia. “I knew from at least 13 or 14-years-old that I wanted to get into tattooing and just be an artist.”  

Catteruccia enjoys spray-painting, tattooing and painting with acrylics“Painting particularly does something for me aside from tattooing,” Catteruccia said. “It makes me feel like that’s what I’m here for.” When he isn’t painting canvases or murals on the sides of buildingsCatteruccia is tattooing at Mind Floss Tattoo in Madison, Wis. He’s been tattooing for six years.  

Catteruccia started tattooing at the age of 20I’ve been at Mind Floss for just over a year now. That shop is particularly the best shop that I feel like I’ve worked at,” Catteruccia said. “I’ve worked in a lot of shops; I’d say just from the age of 20, I’ve worked in probably close to 10 already. It feels weird because you’re not a rookie, you’re like an aboveaverage novice. I mean, at 10 years, technically, you’re considered an experienced tattooer.”  

At the beginning of his career, Catteruccia didn’t take the traditional apprenticeship route like many novice tattoo artists might.  

150 percent would have rather had an apprenticeship because, to be honest, all you’re really doing is investing into actually learning the right way,” Catteruccia said. When you teach yourself, kind of like how I did, you tend to mess people up. You tend to learn from mistakes rather than having someone be over you like, ‘Do it this way.’”  

Catteruccia has learned that the only way to improve his art form is to practice. One must cultivate their art and practice daily. “It’s like a plant,” he said. “If you’re not watering it every single day, how big do you really expect it to get? 

Over the yearsCatteruccia has grown both as a tattoo artist and as a person. But his growth came with obstacles.  

“I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at a very, very young age,” Catteruccia said. “I got off medication at 20 years old. It was abandon all ship at that point. At 20 years old, I had my oldest daughter. I knew that it was going to be hard, but I knew that I can’t depend on pharmaceutical medication to make me a human beingI think if you want to be the one to take medication, and you speak it, and you talk to your doctor, and you believe that, go for it. But me, personally? It was making it worse for me. 

Just as he had to learn to cultivate his art, Catteruccia had to learn to cope with his mental health without medication. These days, Catteruccia channels his love for art into a healthy way to cope.  

“I would say art is a coping mechanism. It’s also kind of a reflection of myself, to know if I’m really dialing in my talents. Once I started getting the hang of my craft, as far as making myself do it, I would say it started balancing me out a little bit,” Catteruccia said. “Every day, I feel differently about life. But I would say more so nowadays, it’s going in a positive direction that I actually kind of like.” 

Being able to find positivity in his life is, in part, due to his children. “My happy medium was my children. I never tried to make it seem like I’m not going to be there for my children. I mean, me and their mother had our obvious issues, but I always made a point that fatherhood is the biggest thing to me. I never lost sight of being better to be a better person and be a better father, said Catteruccia 

Not only does Catteruccia strive to be a better person and a better father, but he also strives to make a name for himself, both as a painter and a tattoo artist. “I’d like to have a name, I’d like to travel the country, I’d like to, potentially, get picked up by a painting company or have my own. That’s still up in the air. I do want to own my own tattoo shop one day.” 

When Catteruccia makes it to that point, he hopes that his daughters can someday take over his legacy. “My oldest daughter is already an artist; I just know she is. Every time we’re together she’s drawing,” Catteruccia said. “And then my youngest one, I’m still feeling her out as far as seeing if she’s an artist. But she knows every color on the rainbow and identifies color, and she’s only two years old. I hope that they both, as sisters, can take over what their dad left them for my grandkids and greatgrandkids.”  

Catteruccia is on his way towards creating an even brighter future for himself, his children and generations of Catteruccias to come.