I was driving a bandmate home from practice one Tuesday night down here in South Jersey. He lived in Millville, a small town next to Vineland. After I dropped him off, I drove down a road called High Street—which was a memorable name for obvious reasons—and as I drove down this street I noticed what appeared to be a tattoo shop. I slowed down and saw that it was indeed a tattoo shop! I guess the word “Tattoo” down the front of the door was a dead giveaway. Anyway, Millville is not the best neighborhood in New Jersey, so I was reluctant to stop to check the place out, but if I couldn’t stop in to take a look, how’s it supposed to be safe for any of you reading this? So, I decided to stop in and take a look at Synergy Tattoo Studio.
I walked into a shop with green walls. To my right was what looked like a gas fireplace and to my left was a very nice leather couch. This place looked extremely clean and did not fit in what I just described as Millville. A reception desk was right in front of me and behind it was where all the magic happens—a couple of private rooms where the tattooing is done. To the left of the reception desk was a small table with the artists’ portfolios and on the wall hung a flash art portfolio for anyone who even cared to get ideas from it.
The buzzing sound of the tattoo machines and the smell of the soap were really giving me the itch to get another one. That’s how clean this place was. You can smell the cleanliness, if that makes any sense. Anyway, I was greeted by a guy named Eric Hooven, who happened to be one of the two artists at Synergy. The other artist was owner Frank Nardi, who opened Synergy Tattoo Studio back in January 2009. Frank was busy with a customer, so I got as much info out of Eric as I could possibly retain without a recording device, and he gave me a little background about the owner. Frank started tattooing in 2003 and claims to be self-taught. He finished up an apprenticeship at a small local shop in 2006 and in 2009, opened Synergy. In his off time, Frank is also a well-established oil painter, which means that he’s an all-around “real” artist.
Since opening its doors, Synergy Tattoo has been pretty busy, as their clientele has been all through word of mouth. Eric told me that their shop is mainly custom artwork and that customers should not expect anything but professionalism in their shop. He and Frank will work and consult their clients free of charge before any ink hits the skin to provide them with the best tattoo experience around. They don’t want customers leaving their shop with something they’re not happy with because it’s also a reflection on them as artists.
Eric assured me that at Synergy, they only use the highest quality and most sterile materials with one-time use disposable needles. When I asked about their age restrictions, he was quick to say that no one under the age of 18 will get tattooed in their shop and a state issued photo ID is required. He said that was something they would not budge on.
Like most other shops, Synergy welcomes walk-ins, but they prefer appointments since there are only two artists in the shop. Appointments can only be made in the studio, which means no phone calls or emails. Yes, there is a non-refundable deposit required. For a small tattoo that will cost $200 or less, a $50 deposit is required. For a larger tattoo that will cost over $200, a $100 deposit is required, all of which will be applied to the final cost of the tattoo. Eric also said that there’s a 24-hour notice needed for rescheduling or canceling. If you’re a no-show or don’t call, you forfeit your deposit and will have to put down another full deposit to reschedule your appointment. Ouch! Also, all payments are “cash only,” hence the sign at the front desk when you walk in, but they will allow you to pay via PayPal once you’re in the studio.
This is a great little shop in lovely downtown Millville! I’m actually really happy that I stopped in. Eric and Frank (yes, I finally did get to say hi to him) were super friendly and were eager to answer any questions that I had. Their shop definitely reminded me of one that belonged in North Jersey! If you’re in the South Jersey area and would like to check out Synergy Tattoo Studio, you can stop in at 204 North High Street. They’re closed on Sundays and Mondays, but Tuesday through Saturday they’re open from 12 p.m. until whenever they feel like closing. If you have any questions about the shop or any artwork, feel free to call the shop at (856) 204-6920 or email Frank Nardi at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also check out the shop and their artwork online by way of synergytattoostudio.com.
Well, I’m off to check out my next tattoo spot! Who knows what state it will be in! If you have a tattoo shop that you want to suggest, please e-mail me the name of the place and whom I should ask for at email@example.com.