Name: Ion Nicolae

Age: 30

Occupation: Body art entrepreneur

’Tis the season to decorate the tree, but it can also be the season to decorate your body - if you dare.

Ion (pronounced Yon) Nicolae owns Black Line Studio. It’s a far cry from your typical barber shop-looking tattoo and piercing parlour. Peruse its website —— or strut into the stylish boutique at 577 King St. W. and you know you’re in for an unconventional experience complete with lounge, jewelry booths and edgy brand name fashion wear.

"I noticed a gap in the industry," explains Nicolae, a former restaurateur. "There wasn’t anyone catering to the hipsters and professionals.

By that, the 30-year-old is referring to an upwardly mobile clientele comprising of celebrities, professional athletes and cross bone cufflinked suitors from Bay Street.

"The biggest misconception of people who are into tattoos and piercings is that they are rebels," says Nicolae. "I want to be able to represent the artists as true artists, and not just as ‘tattooists,’" he adds.

Popular tattoos of late include Chinese characters, though it’s to each his own, says Nicolae. Lip, nose and belly button piercings are also popular. There’s a bit of pain, but nothing overwhelming assures Nicolae, who adopts stringent health and after-care standards.

Aside from a team of in-house body art specialists, Nicolae also invites renowned artists to work at the licensed studio. Tattoos are priced from $80 up with custom work pegged at $150 per hour. Piercings average $55, while jewelry items range from $70 to $450. Clothing items are tagged from upwards of $100.

Bring in an unwrapped toy for the Toy Mountain Christmas charity and you’ll get a $20 discount.

An award-winning and multi-faceted media personality, Lawrence’s career spans journalism, television (hosting, acting, producing) and public relations (event management, publicity). Log onto for more buzz.

Latest From ...