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Black Line Studio

Posted by Ryan Bolton / Posted on April 18, 2011

Black line Studio TorontoBlack Line Studio, as soon as you enter, exudes a different vibe than your average run-of-the-mill tattoo joint. For one, the window display is stuffed with local artwork. And upon entering, the first thing you notice are clothes. And jewelry and more art. It's only when you amble to the back of the open-concept second-floor shop that you hear the definitive buzz of a tattoo machine.

Blackline Studio TorontoTo continue with the trend of how Black Line is dissimilar than your typical tattoo shop fare, it's the only shop I've checked out that offers tattoo removals on the same floor that it offers said tattoos. In theory, you can get the ink and remove it in one afternoon if so desired.

Blackline Studio TorontoWhen I take a seat with Ion Nicolae, the owner, he's not your stereotypical tattoo shop owner either. He's not covered with tattoos under a band T-shirt. Instead, Ion's sporting a quarter sleeve tattoo under a white V-neck and black-slash-purple vest. He's a smooth-talker - loquacious, really - and a savvy businessman that puts his own spin on the culture. That's what he's celebrating, he explains, hence the clothing, jewelry, piercing, artwork and tattoos. The whole enchilada.

Blackline Studio Toronto"I wanted to incorporate all the essentials of the art world," says Ion, leaning forward, his hands clasped. "When you come to Black Line it's not just about clothes, tattoos or piercings or art. It's about the lifestyle." The clothing, for instance, is unique. They carry brands like Junker Designs, Tommy Lee's clothing brand. It's all inspired by Ion's background in the industry - well, various industries.

Blackline Studio TorontoBorn in Montreal, Ion moved to Florida with friends. Ion returned to open the now-chain tattoo and piercing shops, Perfect Image, when he was 22. He then jumped into the restaurant business, opening 350 Fahrenheit - the perfect temperature to pre-heat an oven for any recipe - on Bloor St. He then sold the restaurant and his shares in Perfect Image and opened Black Line five years ago on King St. (Ion originally tried to open above Lettieri at Queen and Spadina, but the City wouldn't allow his renovations to the historical building).

Blackline Studio TorontoWith three custom tattooers currently in the shop, a guy from Korea is coming at the end of the month and another couple for the summer. "The guys that work here are well-rounded. They're sociable, young and eager, and they have the ability to take an idea and translate it to skin," Ion explains with his slight French accent. (As somewhat of a renaissance businessman, Ion also runs a furniture company called Fiber and directs short films).

Blackline Studio TorontoUnlike most tattoo shop owners in the city, Ion isn't an artist himself. He does piercings - including dermal piercings - but leaves the ink to his boys: Scoot, Glen and Steven. Ion is the business side of the industry, as he puts it.

Blackline Studio Toronto"A businessman knows that he needs an artist," he begins. "While an artist doesn't know he needs a businessman." He's talking about a lot of great artists that think they can go out and open a shop based on their art alone. He's making a point that it's not as cut-and-dry.

"To run a business is an art of its own."

Blackline Studio TorontoWriting by Ryan Bolton / Photography by Dennis Marciniak



Max / April 18, 2011 at 09:35 pm
Yay, Black Line! We love having you in Kind West.
Nat / April 20, 2011 at 05:27 pm
BlackLine is definitely the most exclusive, modish body art & piercing studio in all of Toronto. I would never go anywhere else! I have been to many tattoo studios in Toronto and throughout the United Sates, but none compare to BlackLine. Stop by and check it out for yourself, you won't be disappointed. The layout of the studio is amazing, with a great atmosphere and awesome artists. My favorite part is that they carry Double Cross & Scott Kay jewelry lines too... us girls can never get enough of amazing jewelry ;)

Rob / April 21, 2011 at 11:46 pm
Just got a tat from scoot.. Sick!!!'
Jeff / April 21, 2011 at 11:48 pm
Amazing shop. Just had a half sleeve fixed by Scoot and WOWW it's unbelievable !
Thanks again black line. You will see me soon.
dave / April 22, 2011 at 02:50 am
Place looks really nice. Scoot im flying to toronto soon,I need my back finished. And you're my man.
PJ / July 5, 2011 at 10:46 am
Absolutely amazing shop and staff!!!. Not to mention the stunning collection of Jewelry.
Joseph / July 5, 2011 at 10:47 am
This place is fantastic! I have had many tattoos done at blackline studios, the quality of work is just phenomenon.
BE WARNED ABOUT SCOOT / October 11, 2011 at 02:31 pm

This Shop doesn't deserve a Star Rating at all... If you are going to be permanently inked for life never ever go to an artist named "Scoot" the name itself should relay a message to you... I have over 6 Tattoos and would never ever recommend this artist to a soul on earth... The shop manager has absolute no customer service skills and they pretty much are a big joke. This sucks for the other talented artist who work at this gorgeous tattoo shop.
KJ / March 26, 2012 at 07:03 pm
I've had 2 tats done here and today JUST got a tat in a very awkward spot from their guest artist India who is only here for another month. She was amazing, personable and very friendly. In fact, Kyle and the whole staff were awesome - was even more pleasant than some spa trips I've had! Some follow-up calls before I came in to make sure I was comfortable and had everything I needed. I emailed my artwork and concepts in and it was ready and actually improved upon from my original concept. As a graphic artist, I am super picky - they got it worked with me and the artwork came to life. I can't wait to get India to do my next tat in 3 weeks once this one heals. It's a cover up from a stupid one they did for me years ago and the rendering of the concept was brilliant. Clean, great service and awesome guest artists. I've had ink in Montreal, NYC and Toronto. I will ONLY go to BlackLine from now on.
SC / October 13, 2012 at 02:30 am
If I could give this shop no stars, I would. I got my first tattoo done here and it was a horrible experience. Just horrible. I would not recommend this place to ANYONE.

I showed up for my scheduled consultation to find that the artist I wanted to speak to was with another client. I was given 5 minutes with the artist even though my consultation was booked for half an hour.

On the day of the appointment to get my tattoo done, I got to the studio to find out that my artist was given the day off. ... I had booked my appointment two weeks in advance. I was told that the price of my tattoo would be lowered because of the huge misunderstanding. It took me an hour to get to the studio and I was really upset because I was really looking forward to getting my tattoo done. Ion, the apparent owner, came and spoke to me and apologized.

I also attempted to return a piece of body jewelry that I purchased on the day of my consultation. I took it home to find it tarnished and obviously not the best material that the shop claimed it to be made of. Ion would not take back the bad jewelry but gave me a $20 gift certificate to use towards my tattoo.

After rescheduling my appointment and finally getting the tattoo done, I walked up to the cash register to find that they had not lowered the price of the tattoo at all (I DEFINITELY wasn't trying to be stingy- I was 100% willing to pay full price for the tattoo but their customer service seriously pissed me off and I wanted something to be done). I was only allowed to use the $20 gift certificate I received, which was unrelated to the tattoo so I was confused as to why I still wasn't receiving a discounted price for the mix up.

I left the shop relatively happy with the tattoo but seriously upset about their customer service. They didn't seem to care at all that I wasted my time coming to the shop to find that they gave my tattoo artist the day off. They didn't care that they sold me a bad piece of jewelry.

I realized a few days later that I had forgotten I put down a $100 deposit towards the tattoo but paid full price for it. I went to the shop to ask for it back and was told to come back a few days later because they didn't have $100 in the till.

I called the day of and spoke to Johnny, to find that nothing had been left, as I had been promised. Johnny later called back after speaking to Ion and said that the $100 would be there for me.

My boyfriend picked up the deposit because I had to be at work but informed me that the shop was very nonchalant about the whole ordeal.

I would NOT recommend this shop to anybody. Their customer service really sucks. Yeah, the place is clean and looks professional but it really isn't. They're disorganized and they don't give a shit about their customers.

I paid half a grand to get my tattoo done and I would have taken my money elsewhere if it weren't for the fact that the artist I wanted to do my tattoo was a guest artist at their studio.

If you want to pay $500 for a tattoo and show up to find that they gave your artist the day off, Black Line Studio is the way to go.

If you want to be treated like a customer, don't step foot anywhere near this place. Worst customer service experience ever.
SC replying to a comment from BE WARNED ABOUT SCOOT / October 13, 2012 at 02:31 am
I agree. No customer service skills whatsoever. Black Line Studio is a terrible place to go.
AT / October 26, 2012 at 08:03 am
I've read some of the negative comments posted here and while I have never gotten a tattoo at Black Line Studio, I did get a dermal piercing quite recently and I had a great experience.

I found the the shop to be very bright and clean... a very comfortable place which might be important to someone who is nervous or coming in for their first piercing/tattoo.

Secondly, the people that I met were very friendly. Ion was the one that responded to my email inquiry about piercings, cost and scheduling. His reply was very profesional and very prompt. As I'm writing this review, there are tattoo places I still haven't received a response from.

Ion came over and introduced himself and asked me what kind of piercing I was getting. He was genuine, interestsed and very friendly.

Jenny is the piercer and is amazing. She took the time to explain what she was going to do and to get the placement of the piercing just right. She has amazing patience as we tried the placement a couple of times until I was happy with it. During the actual piercing, Jenny was attentive and asked me how I was doing.

I do not want to be critical of other posters' experiences and I'm sure they had their reasons for posting their reviews, however I had a very positive experience and I would recommend Black Line Studios to others.

Michael / March 18, 2013 at 02:57 pm
Went in for a Lorum piercing, little skeptical at first, spoke to one of the piercers Jenny, very professional and did the piercing in no time, barely hurt and looks unreal ;) Going back this week to get my Forum done as well. Excellent spot, definitley recommend.
Emily / December 17, 2013 at 09:51 am
Do not go here!!!! I got my first tattoo here about a year and a half ago. When I initially went in and spoke to the tattoo artist I thought would be best for what I wanted, he was friendly and professional and emailed me a beautiful sketch of what I wanted. It was perfect. The day I went in to get it done they had switched the artist without telling me and the new one had a completely different image than the one I was expecting. When I tried to explain what I wanted changed about it (perhaps not using the correct art/tattoo terminology) he was very abrasive and defensive. He did a good job once we got it figured out, but once we got to the cash I was in for another shock. The initial artist I had been expecting had a $125/hour rate that I had agreed to - the piece ended up taking half an hour with the new artist with a shocking price tag of $400!!! Totally ripped off. When I spoke to the manager later that week questioning where the price came from, all I got was an offer for a "free touch up" and an explanation that this artist's work is never worth less than 400....would have been nice to know before hand...just like the fact that they were switching my artist!!! GO SOMEWHERE ELSE.
Mike / January 14, 2014 at 09:19 am
Spent $800 on my first tattoo here. Came back a month later after multiple booking errors for my FREE touch up. Artist was over 30 minutes late to the appointment.

In the initial session we were supposed to add a small script, my artist said we'll just do it when I come back. The script is literally half the size of a pinky finger. I get it done and tip my artist $40 for the touch up (we spent about ~5-10 minutes on the chair).

As I'm leaving, the money-grabbing manager comes running out saying I owe him for the additional work. At no point in time did they ever mention it will cost ANYTHING, not to mention it should have been done in the initial session. He wanted me to pay $80 for it because technically it wasn't part of the original piece. A tiny script that the artist traced. Wow.

I argued for a while until my artist said to just take it out of his salary so I felt bad and paid, although in retrospect I shouldn't have - probably a scam they run all the time. I also let the artist keep his tip. I spent an additional $120 to add a squiggly line.

This place is an absolute joke. I was going to come back (mentioned this to my artist several times) and do my whole arm (we did just my forearm) including my chest... you lost a lot of money and business by being a greedy POS, Ion/Joseph.

Honestly, NEVER come here. All the recent reviews indicate I wasn't the only one that was scammed by this place. There's literally HUNDREDS of other places you can go, get a better artist and for cheaper and not have to worry about the scam-artist owner.
kingmoe / May 29, 2014 at 04:50 pm
My skin started reacting after getting the tattoo. My dermitologist told me that they should have done a test on my skin before being hasty and going ahead with the job. I have to use cortisol possibly for the rest of my life on that part of my body, otherwise my skin becomes uneven and unbearably itchy. The figurines and colours may be nice but the consequences of their inattention to client's health must be the deal breaker .
RL / September 15, 2014 at 01:55 am
Do yourself a favor & DON'T GO TO THIS PLACE. I've had friends who have had their tattoos done here in the past and they warned me the prices were ridiculous and that the staff was very unprofessional. I read online reviews that said exactly what my friends were telling me but my gut feeling said they were wrong. My gut feeling was so wrong.

I could write a whole essay on my horrible experience here, but to summarize:

- the manager, Joseph, is by far the most disrespectful, rude and unprofessional person i have ever encountered. absolutely no respect for his customers.

- I got overcharged a couple HUNDREDS of dollars (My total came out to be $800+) after being quoted a price ($500-600) by his employee when I went in for my consultation 2 weeks prior to my tattoo appointment. His reason? He told me "My employees don't make the prices, i do" ....... what? I was promised a price by your employees, I paid my deposit of $150 under the impression that this promise would be kept and then AFTER my tattoo is done, you tell me that you're going to hike up the price because you say so? When i tried to make my point that its not fair that I was being charged more than what his employees promised me, he threatened to increase my bill another $100......... unprofessional.

- Prior to the start of my tattoo session, i had established with both the artist and the manager that I was only being charged for the time spent doing the actual tattooing (putting ink into my skin) and that if the actual tattooing exceeded 3 hours that i would be charged $150 on an hourly basis. Drawing took an hour. The actual tattooing took 2 hours.

- Even if they were to charge on a per hour basis at $150/ hour like they had mentioned if my tattoo session took more than 3 hours ( which it didn't), it should have added up to $450 if you include drawing time or $600 if you also include the time spent setting up equipment and just chatting. When i brought up this point, Joseph said ``well......... i`m not changing the price. Pay this price or I`ll take it up legally` really? no real explanation? Just pure arrogance

- My conversation with the manager discussing all this was one of the most unpleasant experiences ever. I have never felt so disrespected and belittled in my life.

Lessons learned:
Puraman / March 2, 2015 at 02:40 am
Ear Cartilage Piercing ... ONE hole (1) = 107 dollars ..... so visiting this place changed my life forever ...... I don't think open heart surgery is expensive anymore .... some people call it simple - ripoff.
SJL / March 17, 2015 at 11:06 am
I had all my tattoos completed at Black Line Studio since 2012 and recently had four piercings done in February and found the experience to be exceptionally positive. Yes my tattoos and piercings were $$$$ but if you want something done professionally and properly its not going to be cheap. I found the artist who did my tattoos professional and personable, Ion who completed my piercings was polite, respectful, easy on the eyes and overall the customer service calls reminding me of my appointment and to follow up after each appointment was a nice touch and appreciated. It's unfortunate others have had a bad experience with Black Line Studio but personally I can't relate.
Casey D'Aguiar / April 16, 2015 at 09:42 am
Recently went to Black Line Studio for my first tattoos and I couldn't be more pleased with the treatment I received. The experience and service they provided was beyond excellent. My tattoo artist was very patient and comforting. Very friendly yet professional environment, definitely looking forward to going back for more work in the near future. They accommodated my every need from booking my consultation, appointment and after care needs. I've already recommended the Studio to many of my friends who need work done and many others who've seen my tattoos and were quite pleased with the results. - Thanks to Yannick -
jmcr / April 29, 2015 at 02:37 pm
if you are thinking of getting a tattoo here PLEASE look elsewhere! the staff is rude and stuck up (especially the roid rage receptionist dude they have), and will look for any chance to rip you off. My tat was unfinished and crooked, the artist was awful and insulting, and I got an infection!!!!
Angela replying to a comment from SC / June 22, 2015 at 02:07 pm
I agree. Terrible place to go. They collect your deposit and there is zero follow up. There is no attempt to work with you regarding the service you wish. DO NOT GO TO BLACK LINE STUDIO EVEN IF SOMEONE RECOMMENDS IT. Very unprofessional, no customer service, cash grab.

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