Autism no barrier for teenager and his love for art and calligraphy
Being a special needs youth does not stop Lee Jun Le from practising calligraphy. Or for that matter, completing his artworks in under a minute.
Diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder at the tender age of three, the 16-year-old’s creative journey took flight during the circuit breaker, when his parents, Bob Lee and Lim Hwee Hwee, asked him to copy a Buddhist scripture as a way of learning Mandarin.
“In school, he didn’t learn Mandarin. So, I asked him to write Chinese words to try and occupy his time,” Lee, a 47-year-old freelance photographer, told TNP.
“As parents, we can have our own ‘me-time’ while he considers doing this… Since the circuit breaker until today, he’s been writing almost every day.”
Lee and his wife had encouraged Jun Le to copy the Chinese version of the Heart Sutra, an ancient Buddhist text.
Later on, Lee used one of Jun Le’s artworks to customise keychains before sharing images of them on social media.
Their friends soon started purchasing the keychains and artwork – kickstarting a source of income for the teenager.
“This year, Pathlight School (which Jun Le attends) is teaching him the concept of income,” Lee said. “We always tell him that ‘Papa is a photographer. Mummy is a translator. You are a calligrapher.’”
Lee’s artworks come in all shapes and sizes, adorning everything from keychains, tote bags, and thermal flasks to small pouches, all bearing poignant messages like “breathe” as simple reminders for everyone.
If calligraphy wasn’t challenging enough, Jun Le’s ink journey also encompasses writing Arabic, a skill he picked up from the hallowed halls of YouTube and the Islamic cartoon, Omar & Hana.
Sometimes, personal requests and commissions roll in, like one which asked him to pen “Alhamdulillah”, meaning “praise be to God”.
Currently, the teenager’s work is taking center stage via a solo exhibition at The Art Faculty (TAF) at Enabling Village.
The exhibition, ‘Pursuit of Happiness’, which runs until Sept 2, is inspired by Jun Le’s name which means “happy”.
@tnpdigital Being a special needs youth does not stop Jun Le from practising calligraphy or for that matter, completing his artworks in just under a minute. 🎨🖼️ He's currently having a solo exhibition at TAF till Sept 2! Find out more about it on our website. #fyp #sgnews #calligraphy #asd #autismspectrumdisorder ♬ original sound - TNP
His bespoke wonders are up for grabs at a wallet-friendly range of $15 to $20. For those seeking bigger pieces, his A1 and A2 creations clock go for $50 to $300.
“We don’t want to make the products too expensive. We did some research and some people priced them quite high. At this stage, this is not a (main source of) income for the family,” Lee explained.
“It’s more to let people have his works; that’s more important.
“When you have trouble that doesn’t hit life or death and it’s not until the last stage of your life, it’s no big deal. It’s just autism – he has hands and legs.”