I was driving home from an engagement party one Saturday afternoon on the White Horse Pike, which is a direct route to my house, when my wife noticed a tattoo shop tucked away in this little strip mall. We noticed the place because there was this monster sitting on the roof of the shop. It looked like the Predator. I had never seen this place before, so we decided to turn around and check the place out. We were in Somerdale, NJ, which is down by the Cherry Hill area of Jersey. Yes, that’s as South Jersey as you can get.
The name of the shop was Hydravolve Studios, and we needed to check this place out. We walked into this bright yellow room with paintings and guitars adorning the wall. The room we walked into was the waiting room with some comfy chairs and a reception desk right in front of us with a dividing wall right behind it decorated with the studio name and logo. Behind this dividing wall was where the magic happened. That’s where the tattoo stations were set up. We were greeted by an artist named MJ Bonanno, who I later learned was also co-owner of Hydravolve. Obviously, coming back from an engagement party, I had no recording equipment to record any of MJ’s responses, so here’s what I have for you.
MJ and piercer Mark ‘Wobbles’ Raffensperger opened Hydravolve Studios back in June of 2011 with the idea to create a workspace for themselves. When I asked what would make a prospective customer like myself to come to this shop, MJ told me that as a shop, they pride themselves on the quality and the artistry of their work. Unlike many other tattoo shops down here in South Jersey, they are a 100% custom shop. He continued to say that tattoos are an expression of personality and no two people are exactly alike, which couldn’t be truer. So, because of this, every tattoo that leaves their studio is one of a kind and will not be reproduced on another person. Now that is something you want to hear at a tattoo studio.
Wobbles, the other owner, has 15-plus years of piercing experience and has been serving the South Jersey community with safe and reliable body piercing for well over 10 years. Not only does Wobbles stock an overabundant amount of body jewelry, he also stocks the best quality and brand name body jewelry the industry has to offer.
Hydravolve Studios houses two other artists alongside MJ, who’s been tattooing since 2007. MJ is joined by Dan Fisher, who’s been tattooing since 2005 and has been exploring art as long as he can remember, and Mickey Ratt, who has been tattooing for over 10 years and has even had his work published in top tattoo magazines. These three artists have helped Hyrdavolve Studios become one of the highest-ranking tattoo and body piercing studios in South Jersey, according to reports on Yelp and Google.
When I asked about the walk-in policy, I was told that walk-ins are welcome, but appointments are preferred. MJ urges prospective clientele to come in for a free consultation with any of their artists. He says to bring your idea in and he and his artists will customize the idea to make it a unique piece of art. Once everyone is happy, a small deposit is required to make an appointment that will be taken off the final cost of the tattoo.
The shop was pretty spotless, which is another thing you like to see in a tattoo shop when you visit it. From what I was told, all needles are single-use and the machines are all autoclave sterilized nightly. When I asked about the age limits, I was told that the shop follows all state law. No one gets tattooed or pierced under the age 18 without adult consent.
Our visit to this South Jersey hidden treasure was a short one, but if you’re in the Somerdale, NJ area, I highly recommend checking out Hydravolve Studios. They are located at 409 North White Horse Pike, or the shop with the monster on their rooftop, and they’re open Tuesday through Saturday from 2 pm till 9 pm with appointments only on Sunday. If you’d like to see a specific artist from Hydravolve, you will need to check out the shop’s website for the artist’s hours at Hydravolve.com. For more info, you can call (856) 258-6811.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.