The Black Line Crow


Tattooing tells a deeply personal artistic story. Since 2006, Black Line Studio has developed a reputation amongst the who’s who in Toronto when it comes to innovative high-quality body art. Their team of Tattoo Artists and Tattoo Masters are considered the top in their field, and they proudly offer a diverse range of artistic styles. The studio offers a wide range flash tattoos for you to choose from, but of course you have the opportunity to work one-on-one with one of the tattoo artist and design a custom tattoo that is of great significance to you, which is what one of the A-list Hollywood actor, and his close friend chose to do during the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival. More on that story in a moment.

Among the many additional services that Black Line Studio offers you’ll find body piercing, tattoo cover-ups, tattoo removal and many exclusive jewellery lines. Black Line Studio carries some of the most prominent and trendy jewellery collections from a variety of respected international designers. Select collections featured at Black Line Studio in 2021 include Emily Faith Goldstein’s EF Collection out of Los Angeles, Maria Tash from New York City, and Kismet by Milka out of Bebek, Istanbul. Black Line Studio consistently offers a variety of jewellery designs that cater to compliment everyone’s personal style. One of the services offered by Black Line Studio and elevated by the jewellery lines the studio offers, is the highly sought-after “constellation” piercing, which is headed by Ear Curation Specialist, Anna. With the assistance of a specialized program and Anna’s ability to customize based on each individual client’s ear shapes, your individually designed ear with the addition of fine jewellery is the perfect way to express yourself through body art.

Along with being a first-class tattoo studio in Toronto, Black Line Studio also offers a wide variety of services appealing to their clientele, including the revolutionary “Hollywood” Spectra™ Carbon Peel. This innovative and highly sought-after laser treatment boasts the benefits of gentle yet effective skin rejuvenation and is used to reduce pigmentation and acne, minimize textural irregularities within the skin, diminishes large pores, and stimulates the production of collagen. Such results would assume exorbitant costs, significant discomfort, and extended recovery, however with Spectra™ Carbon Peel, you receive noticeable results with a single treatment, for less money and recovery time.

Johnny Depp at Black Line Studio

Black Line Studios has, since its inception, been praised for their unique and intricate designs by their diverse team of tattoo artists, who have given tattoos to notable clients from all over the world. The studio has been involved with several high-profile Toronto events, which in 2012, led to owner Ion Nicolae being receiving a call from a concierge at a five-star hotel during the Toronto International Film Festival, to tattoo world-renowned actor Johnny Depp. The tattoo Johnny received is one that has caught the attention of fans and media over the years. It is a design that both Johnny and his close friend Damien Echols share and it holds a deeply personal meaning.

Echols is one third of the West Memphis Three – a group of three (at the time) teenagers who were accused and convicted of murdering three young boys. Originally sentenced to the death penalty (with the other two third of the WM3 receiving life sentences), Damien was released from prison in 2011 after entering an Alford guilty plea. The simple definition of said plea is such that sees Echols maintaining his innocence, but also recognizing that the prosecution holds enough evidence that could lead to a jury finding him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Once the previous convictions were vacated, a new trial was ordered, and Echols was sentenced to time served. The story of the West Memphis Three was later told in a documentary by writer and director Amy J. Berg and producers Echols and Peter Jackson titled “West of Memphis.”

Inspired by “The Crow”

Johnny Depp and Echols were in Toronto for the documentary’s premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival and what is one thing the two friends enjoy doing together when they found themselves in the same city? Get tattooed, of course. So, we return to the hotel suite where members of the Black Line Studio team have now arrived to tattoo one of the most recognizable actors in the world. The ask was a crow, to be tattooed on Johnny Depp, Damien Echols, and a couple other individuals within their group. This specific selection was inspired by the 1994 film “The Crow”, which was an action filmed based off a popular comic book series. The lead character, Eric Draven, is a rock singer who is viciously murdered, but one year later rises from the dead to avenge his own honour. Guiding Draven on his journey is a black crow, painted to be a mystical and spiritual carrier of souls. In the film, the crow is meant to act as the carrier of one’s soul from the world of the dead back to the world of the living.



The significance of this tattoo is deeply moving and holds great personal importance to both Johnny Depp and Damien Echols. Says Echols, “When somebody comes back to life, it’s the crow that’s bringing them back to the living.” Having a judge tell you that not only would your freedom be taken away from you, but also your life will end at a scheduled time, is an unimaginable scenario to find yourself in. To then, years later, be given an opportunity to not only save your own life but also regain your freedom, is something few people will ever experience. Echols has used his years out of prison to tell his story beginning from his childhood days in West Memphis, to prison, and the people who helped him get his feet back on the ground, which of course includes Johnny Depp.



The infamous crow tattoo on Johnny Depp’s right hand was brought to life in a private suite in downtown Toronto almost a decade ago. Since then, the team of artists at Black Light Studio have continued to showcase their beautifully diverse and deeply skilled artistry from clients from near and far. A testimony to the calibre of tattoo artists that call Black Line Studio home is the fact that Ion needed to call upon someone whom he trusted to accompany him on this highly confidential last minute Sunday afternoon job, and he needed someone he knew could deliver exceptional art with no boundaries when it came to tattoo style. It is that type of versatility that sets our studio apart from others.



The images of Johnny Depp’s tattoo from Black Line Studio are stunning on their own without knowing the backstory. But once you’ve learned of how deeply personal and significant the crow is, you might look at it differently and see even more beauty.