Paul Lee is a Tattoo artist at black cobra tattoo studio. Paul is 22 years of age and was born in Little Rock, Arkansas in the year of 1994, and the day was the 17th of June, Therefore Paul is a Gemini.
His father is Sok Min Lee and his mother is Soon Cha Kim. Paul is 1st generation of South Korean immigrants. He grew up in a small town called Jacksonville, in Arkansas. Paul went to elementary at Carver Magnet in little rock Arkansas, where he took his first art classes. He then attended Horace Mann arts & science magnet middle school, focusing on the arts and took studio art classes. He then attended Jacksonville high school, where he took art classes ranging from art foundations to ap studio art.
At the time, Paul helped his dad, Sok, who is a self-employed handyman, with his job whenever he could. His dad works very hard, and he always encouraged Paul to get very good grades and to get scholarships and go to a decent college. Paul eventually noticed that he did not enjoy the type of work his dad does, and took note of his advice. So after many years of not getting good grades, in sophomore year of high school Paul decided to try to get good grades. Around sophomore year of high school, the teachers would try to encourage the students to pick a field that they have an interest in, to further their education in. At the time Paul knew that he had an interest in a visual art of some sort, so he always had somewhat of an interest in graphic design or architecture.
After he did some research on those fields, he realized there wasn’t a huge amount of hands-on drawing or painting or whatnot. So he realized that visual arts was more of what he was looking for. Getting into junior year, some of his fellow classmates were granted a half ride scholarship to Memphis College of Art. Seeing how after some time they seemed to really enjoy going to Memphis College of Art, Paul wanted to try to go there too, although he had no idea what type of major he would want to pursue.
He eventually attended a college fair where he talked to a representative of Memphis College of Art and enrolled in a one day class at the school. He then went to the class, where the students would try out different workshop ranging from sculpture to painting, illustration, graphic design, etc.. He soon found out that he really enjoyed the illustration workshop. When he got back home he started working on art more and more.
He was working hard on his portfolio to enter into the AP art exam. Around this time, it was junior year/senior year. His art class would go each year to the convention center for a big art thing called Arkansas Young Artists Association, or AYAA for short. They held art contests where kids would enter in a number of artworks to be judged, and if you won you would get a cool plaque that you could hang up on a wall somewhere.
The first year he entered he won a few contests ranging from 3rd to first place, the second year he was suspended from school at the time, and his teacher told him he was not allowed to go to the convention or enter any artworks. He didn’t listen and went to the convention anyway although he wasn’t allowed to enter any pieces of art for the competition. However, he was able to sneak into the area where you hang up your art to be judged, but didn’t have an entry label on any of his pieces, after the judging he checked back on the art he hung up to be ‘judged’ and noticed 2 of his pieces had notes on them saying his pieces would have won first place, but because they weren’t labeled they could not be judged for competition.
He also entered in a contest called THEA foundation, where students enter their artwork based on a theme, and three winners would be picked for a cash prize and newspaper article. He won first place that year. Later on, he completed his AP studio art portfolio and submitted it for scoring after almost missing the deadline. He worked really hard on his portfolio, and after such hard work, he got his results. He had gotten a perfect score on the AP studio art exam, which is a 5 out of 5!
After all this time Memphis College of Art had found interest in Paul, and found out about the ap studio art exam score. Eventually, Paul got a letter in the mail from Memphis college of art, where it said based off of his portfolio they would grant him a 50k scholarship or half ride scholarship. Paul was really stoked to find out about this news.
Now, however, Paul’s parents did not want him to pursue art as a career. They didn’t believe that art would be a successful career choice, they meant well, but just didn’t believe in art being a real career. That being said they wouldn’t help him with going to attend Memphis college of art, such as rides to Memphis, handing over their info to fill out the FAFSA (financial aid) or anything to help him fulfill going to art school.
Around this time he was pretty bummed out and didn’t care about what they thought, and went out on his own since he was 18 at this point, and had no hope of going to art school. He started couch surfing and working some dead end jobs. His first job was at Olive Garden, then at IHOP, next would be at Kroger, and lastly at Walmart. Around this time he knew that he wanted to do some sort of thing with art, he felt like he could be doing better, almost deserved better. He always thought about being a tattoo artist, but never really believed it could be a career. He always thought they were cool, but knew they were really hard to do. But he thought he had a little bit of potential.
He met Matt O’Baugh, the owner of Black Cobra around this time and showed him his portfolio. Now before he met Matt, he tried going around to all the local shops to seek a tattoo apprenticeship, but was absolutely shocked at how rude they were to him, and didn’t even give him a chance. When he met Matt, he was shocked at how nice he was, and how interested he seemed in apprenticing him. However, his shop was too brand new at the time to be legal enough to start a school and apprentice him. So Paul spent the remainder of the time before working at Black cobra, on working harder on his art. He started painting for the first time around this time and spent every day working on oil paintings and drawings. After some time had passed he finally got into Black Cobra as a tattoo apprentice in 2014. He got licensed as an official tattoo artist in Arkansas in January 2015 and has been working at Black Cobra ever since.
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