This Grandfather’s Instagram Art Helps Him Stay Connected to His Family

Chan Jae Lee, a 77-year-old Korean artist, draws whimsical pictures to keep in touch with his grandkids around the world.

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Grandfather's Instagram Art Helps Him Stay Connected to His Family

This grandpa has a creative way to stay connected to his grandchildren.

Chan Jae Lee's drawing of a himself with his grandchild

Chan Jae Lee, known simply as Grandpa Chan to his 387,000 Instagram followers, is a 77-year-old Korean man who stumbled upon fame after creating a social media account to keep up with his grandchildren.

Lee, who lives in Brazil, retired nearly 10 years ago and spent his days taking care of his two young grandchildren, shuffling them back and forth to school and taking care of them while their parents worked. But when Lee’s daughter moved her family to Korea, he was left with a gaping hole in his life.

“All of a sudden I had nothing to do anymore and I missed them terribly,” Lee told Lonely Planet Travel News.

In 2015, Lee’s third grandchild, Astro, was born to his son Ji. He and his wife traveled to New York to meet the baby and it was there that Ji suggested his dad begin drawing pictures for his grandkids and posting them on Instagram as a way to keep in touch.

“I liked the idea and found a new purpose to draw and I learned how to use Instagram and stay in touch with my grandkids around the world,” Lee said. Shortly after, Drawings For My Grandchildren was born.

The Instagram account posts new pictures daily, watercolors and pencil sketches of toys his grandkids like to play with, vivid landscapes, imaginative animals and more. Lee’s drawn over 3,000 pictures for his family but he only shares his favorites – all 600 of them so far – with his followers.

With the help of his wife, who writes captions for each of the drawings, Lee is able to use his art project to forge a bond with the youngest members of his family, even though they all live on separate continents. 

He draws birthday messages, his favorite places in Korea from when he was a boy and uses his paintings to teach the kids about important Korean traditions. He then shares his drawings with the family and on Instagram, which gives everyone an excuse to stay connected. Lee will even call up his grandkids to chat about the drawings, reminiscing with them on the memories that inspired his art or quizzing them on what they think of it.

Lee has no formal training in art and he continues to teach himself how to use different techniques to draw his social media masterpieces, but fans have fallen in love with his Instagram account anyway.

“The reaction was amazing. I couldn’t have imagined it in my wildest dreams,” Lee said. “What started as a small family project went viral.”

The family’s even been able to sell some of Lee’s drawings online to help fund more trips to see his grandchildren, but the biggest reward for this late-blooming Instagram influencer has been the reaction he’s gotten from his followers, and, even more importantly, his grandkids.

“We’ve heard people feel very inspired by our story,” Lee said. “Many people have reconnected to their own passion for drawing and painting and many people share their story about their grandparents and parents. It’s amazing to hear these stories and they encourage us to keep drawing and sharing.”

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