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Tattoo Artist Young Bae Shares Her Struggles– The Badass Asian Businesswoman And Icon We Need

Young Bae

By Sophia Whittemore
AsAmNews Staff Writer

The story of Young Bae from VH1’s Black Ink Crew: New York, starts in Seoul, well before reality TV and New York’s Times Square.

Young Bae, age three.



Sleeping in shipping containers, homeless, and not knowing what the next day would bring. Young explains what got her through it. “My faith for sure. Because my family life was strained, and I never shared my struggles with my friends, faith carried me through.”


❤ It was hard for me to put my life out there. I know some would not understand, some would question me, some would feel bad for me etc… but I did this to support the Little MEs out there who is feeling helpless, doing dumb shit just cause they feel worthless about themselves.. It will mean the world to me if I can help One ‘little me’ to turn their life around because of my story.. if I can let one ‘little me’ know they worth everything in this world…. if I can get one ‘little me’ to keep pushing forward… ?? Just know that Life ain’t fair But GOD is!! ??❤ I’m not hiding from my past No More. I’m moving forward. I’m gonna enjoy my blessed life to the fullest. ?? to my father.. if you’re reading this.. 아빠 오래전에 용서했어.. 나를 위해서. 내 새 인생을 위해서. 엄마랑 나랑 언니 찾지마. 우리가 아빠 얼굴을 다시 볼 준비가 될때까지 기달려줘. 아빠를 위해 기도한다 that god will touch your heart, remove all the hate from it and stop lying about who you really were towards us ??#blackinkcrew #vh1 #godfirst #faith #protected #loved #blessed #youngisblessed

A post shared by Young Bae (@youngisblessed) on

Coming from a home with an abusive father and a mother, also an artist, who was struggling to make ends meet. Young’s escape was through self-expression, cleaning up in public restrooms and putting together fashionable outfits from her church’s hand-me-downs.

And her talent didn’t go unnoticed. Her artistic ability got her a partial scholarship at Chugye University, an art college.

But New York City was always a dream destination. “When you think of NYC you think of art.  I didn’t know what NY was all about, but I knew it was an artist’s city and I had to be there.”

After graduating from Chugye, she moved to NYC, starting out with only $80 to her name. “I moved to the States when I was twenty-two, so I am Korean. Not Korean American and the culture difference was crazy.” Young explains of her startling move, on the cusp of adulthood and trying to achieve a dream. “That said, I was always kind of different in Korea. I am direct, I express my feelings openly…no matter who they are.  That is like a sin in Korea.  So when I got to the U.S., being myself was more accepted.”

And that was far from being her only concern, starting out on a student visa to study English. “One of my greatest challenges was my immigration status. Working all that out was hard and I lost a lot of opportunities trying to get my status together. Without the right immigration status to get certain jobs, you miss out on a lot.”

Black Ink Crew
Struggling to pay for a living situation with her roommates, she swept tattoo shop floors for free in order to practice her tattoo artist skills. “As for being a tattoo artist, the option to be a fine artist was a real struggle.  I knew that there was a creative path out there for me and being a tattoo artist gave me that space. To me tattoo is art. It’s art on the body instead of canvas.  So, I could still do my art and earn a living.”


Eventually, she made enough money to rent out a space, sharing an eyebrow-threading parlor, and eventually bringing in even more cash than they were. Now she’s the proud owner of Diamond Tattoos shop in New York City’s glitzy Times Square. Her faith, and a couple of her artistic idols are what got her to this point. “In the tattoo world, I love Kat Von D she is a tattoo artist and a business women. She is definitely an idol of mine that admire. In the fine art world, I love my mom’s work.  She may not be famous, but her passion for art is so strong.  I love her work and her energy about art.”

Then, drawn to the bright lights of the Diamond Tattoos shop and the charisma of the energetic and glamorous Young Bae, the reality TV show offers rolled in. “A few tattoo themed shows had come to me around the time Black Ink Crew approached me.  I was surprised that all these shows were asking me to join them.  It was crazy for someone who had come to the States with nothing, no money, not knowing the language to suddenly have all these TV shows wanting me to join them.”  But still, she remains humble, and happy to have gained a new cast to share her tattoo artist experiences. “I was excited to take the opportunity with Black Ink Crew because I knew would ultimately help my business.  I have been in the business for years, so I knew the exposure could only help my business grow. We are a dysfunctional family, we argue and fight, but at the end of the day we love each other.”


Tonight at 9pm VH1❤ #blackinkcrew #squadgoals #family #friends #vh1 ❤??

A post shared by Young Bae (@youngisblessed) on


Young Bae truly achieved a dream. Working from suffering to creating something, to being a successful, independent Korean woman. But, she also emphasizes how she wants to help people. Immigrants. Children of poverty, of homelessness. Dreamers. And her response to those young hopefuls?

“I have so many things to tell them.  I would need days to give them all my advice!  The biggest piece of advice I have to give though is to keep pushing forward.”

She refers to her rough childhood, her beginning that was in no way an end. “As people without privilege, we have to work so much harder than people with privilege or else we can never achieve our dreams.” But she ends that insight with a word of hope and motivation. “Even when it gets hard, don’t make excuses. Just keep pushing ahead. Keep working. Don’t be the person with a million reasons why you are not successful, be the person with a million reasons why you are successful and have achieved your dreams.”


See more of Young Bae here:


Diamond Tatoos Shop


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