The Young Bae Black Ink story is maybe the most inspirational in the history of the show. It’s also the second highly unusual backstory the show has given its viewers during Black Ink Crew Season 5, following hot on the heels of Tiffany “Tattooz” Perez’s intro. Devoteés will recall that Tiffany came to the game at the age of 21, after receiving–out of the blue–a tattoo gun as a birthday gift from her father.
Well, interesting and unexpected as that story may be, South Korea-born Young Bae might have a story to top it. Here she is laying things out for herself:
That’s right: the Young Bae Black Ink saga, which has so far taken her to a feature role in one of the biggest shows on VH1, began when the down-on-her-luck woman fibbed her way into a job as a tattoo artist in a brand-new country. “If you was born poor [in South Korea], you’re gonna stay poor, and your kids are gonna be poor,” she explains. She emigrated to the United States in 2007, at the age of 22, and quickly found herself working three jobs to make ends meet.
So, when she saw a big neon sign spelling out “TATTOO,” Young Bae knew she might have found a way out for herself–despite never having held a tattoo gun or other tattoing implement in her life. “Like, I don’t know sh!t about tattoos, but I know what good art is,” Bae rationalized. “I am not gonna learn anything from you, but I am gonna learn this business.”
Learn it she did: Young went from being an artist at a New York tattoo parlor to operating her own, two-chair parlor; from then, word of her work got out, momentum built, and she’s now a notable in the industry, with over 25,000 Instagram followers to boot. Here’s just a sample of some of Young Bae’s work:
In addition to her diverse and beautiful work, Young Bae’s calmly straightforward attitude has fans sitting up straight. She’s a woman who got started in a brand-new business (and a brand-new country) with only $80 to her name, so it makes sense that the prospect of a few social media haters doesn’t faze her. “By the end of the season,” Young says, “I just want people to know I am not trying to be nobody else. I am just me, and I will be me. And I hope people love it.
“And, if they hate it,” she concludes, “I am not interested.”
You can follow Young Bae on Twitter here, and you should definitely check out more of her tattoos by following her on Instagram here. In addition, if you’d like to book a session with Young Bae, you can do so by contacting Diamond Tattoos NYC.
Black Ink Crew Season 5 airs on a new night: Wednesdays at 8 PM on VH1.
(Photo credits: Young Bae Black Ink via Instagram)