Grumpy Grandpa Learns Instagram So He Can Post Drawings For His Grandchildren

by Jerriann Sullivan

This grandpa learned how to use Instagram so he could connect with his grandchildren

A grumpy 75-year-old grandpa recently mastered the art of Instagram so he could share his beautiful drawings with his three grandchildren who live in different countries. While Chanjae Lee hated the idea at first, he’s quickly becoming internet famous by sharing his artwork on the Instagram account Drawings For My Grandchildren.

Lee is from South Korea but lives in Brazil. Until recently his whole life centered around his grandchildren’s day – he took them to school, ate lunch with them, and picked them up from school. When his daughter decided to move back to South Korea, Lee’s days became boring and lonely.

Like a lot of us, he filled his schedule with television. His family worried about him and presented the idea of creating drawings then having his wife post them on Instagram. “My father really hated the idea of drawing again,” Lee’s son Ji told NPR. “He didn’t understand … why would anybody be interested in looking at his drawings?”

Lee loathed the idea in part because – unlike most of us – the internet wasn’t part of his life. He never bothered to set up a Gmail or Facebook account and didn’t even have an email.

Despite his resistance, his son Ji, who is a designer for Facebook, stuck with the idea and attempted to teach his parents how to use the social media site over the phone from his home in New York. The plan was for Lee to draw and for his wife, who is much more tech savvy, to upload them to Instagram. Just when they were about to give up Ji’s son Astro was born.

When Lee and his wife traveled to New York to meet their third grandchild he finally understood what his son was trying to tell him. Over lunch one day the grumpy grandpa mentioned that he wouldn’t live long enough to see what baby Astro decided to do and be as an adult. His son explained that by sharing his drawings on Instagram, the artist could connect with his older grandchildren now and provide a way for Astro to get to know him later in life.

And that’s when the magic started to happen. First, Ji had to teach his dad the basics of the photo sharing app. “I caught myself getting annoyed at him, saying ‘Oh my god I told [you] like 20 times, how can you not get this!’ And I had to tell myself, ‘OK, you have to calm down and slow down, because he just doesn’t know,” Ji explained. “He wants to learn, it’s just extremely difficult for him.'”

So for a week the father and son had their Instagram training sessions that lasted several hours. The hardest feature for Lee to understand was the hashtag function. It finally stuck when Ji looked up #watercolor and explained how hashtags organized pics. “Oh my god, that’s fun!” Lee said. “There are amazing watercolor drawings!”

Not only is the grumpy grandpa an Instagram expert but he’s also started using Facebook, Google, and an iPad his son bought for him. The art-tech project also brought the whole family together and gave them something to talk about every day. Lee’s grandkids aren’t his only fans, either. His account has more than 142,000 followers.

“This project really changed the life of my father and my family,” Ji reported. “The most rewarding thing so far has been receiving hundreds and hundreds of messages from people who said, ‘Your story’s inspired me so much to talk to my parents who are old, who used to paint or used to take photos, and I’m going to now talk to them and teach them how to use Instagram.'”