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Online News Day or Knight - Official news site of North Penn High School - 1340 Valley Forge Rd. Lansdale, PA

The Knight Crier

Online News Day or Knight - Official news site of North Penn High School - 1340 Valley Forge Rd. Lansdale, PA

The Knight Crier

Connecting to others by connecting the lines

Submitted Photo
Nick Lee (center) and his incredible charcoal drawings, which help him to make new connections with those around him.

A tear drop rolled down his cheek and splashed onto the piece of paper below, blotching it with his affection. He couldn’t take his eyes off the image printed on the paper. The image was of his father, who had passed away. It felt almost life-like like his father was in the room with him. The man smiled up at the student who had drawn the image with gratitude. That student was Nick Lee. 

Everybody has one skill or talent that sets them apart from the rest. However, it can take years for some people to find what they are truly good at. In this case, North Penn junior Nick Lee didn’t find his “thing” until seventh grade. 

“I had a friend in seventh grade, during Covid, and she would always sketch in class. Back then, I didn’t know how to draw at all, so I reached out to her, and then we started calling and drawing together after class,” Lee explained. “I started out drawing cartoon characters, but when I was drawing with my friend, I noticed that she had a very distinct art style and I wanted to find my own”. 

While searching for his style, Lee devised a tactic that eventually allowed him to find where he excelled artistically.

“At the time, I didn’t have any art knowledge, so I would just try and replicate other pieces of artwork and things like that. Then one day, I decided that I wanted to try drawing real people and see if that worked out, and clearly, I was pretty good at it,” Lee shared. 

While Lee’s work is incredible, what is even more incredible is the fact that he has never taken a formal art class. 

“I have never taken a formal art class, and I still don’t take one. The only art class I take right now is AP Art History just for the sake of inspiration,” Lee revealed. 

Lee’s drawing to show appreciation for the kindness he received from a North Penn lunch lady.
(Nick Lee)

Although he has never taken a formal art class, Lee has had the opportunity to experiment with various art mediums. 

“I spent a couple of months learning how to work with watercolors, and then I stopped doing it, but I was pretty good at it,” Lee shared. “I had heard that watercolor is a very difficult medium for artists to work with which is why I knew I had to try it to prove something to myself. But I would say that charcoal is my best medium”.  

Lee has considered taking his first formal art class at North Penn, but not for the reason one would think. Lee is less focused on improving his art skills and more focused on making friends, considering this is his first year at North Penn High School since moving from Thailand. 

“I lived in Bangkok, Thailand, up until this year. I actually moved here a week before school started,” Lee revealed. “In Thailand, I went to an international school that was much smaller than North Penn. I am very overwhelmed by the 3,000 people, so I would consider taking an art class here just to find some artist friends”. 

For most, moving far away from home, especially at such a young age, can be a challenge. However, Lee was the one who encouraged the move to the United States, even making the trip alone. 

“I was the one in my family who wanted to move to the United States. My mother and father are still in Thailand. I live here with my grandparents now, and I have American citizenship even though I am Thai and Korean by nationality,” Lee explained. “My entire life, I have always just wanted to see what America was like, and now I finally have had that chance. I think it’s a nice change”. 

For Lee, moving to a new country and being thrust into a school as large as North Penn is not easy. He has faced many social challenges that he has had to navigate alone. One thing, however, that Lee has found to help ease this transition is his art.

“I like drawing because not only is it just a cool skill, but you can also use it to connect with people. I use art to be kind to others,” Lee explained. “I actually made a drawing for one of the lunch ladies here as a gift for Thanksgiving because she was kind to me. I came into lunch late one day and she made me a salad, so to show my appreciation I decided to make a drawing for her”. 

Lee first learned how to connect with his artwork in Thailand when he drew an incredibly impactful piece for someone he admired. 

“Back in Thailand, my math teacher’s father had passed away, and at the time, I wasn’t that great at drawing yet, so I waited and improved my skills. Two years later, before I left for America, I remembered him as one of my favorite teachers, so I drew a picture of his dad for him. When I gave it to him, he shed a few tears,” Lee explained. 

Lee’s drawing of Mr. Mullarkey’s father-in-law evoked many emotions for the grieving family.

Lee understands his drawings’ profound impact on other people and continues to use his art to evoke feelings from those around him. 

“I also drew a picture for one of my teachers here, Mr. Mullarkey, of his father-in-law on a motorcycle. His father-in-law had passed away, and I sent it to him to help his wife mourn. After I sent it, he asked if I could make a bigger one for him to hang on his wall,” Lee shared. 

Although Lee is incredibly talented in drawing, one thing that sets him apart from other artists is his unique relationship with art. 

“It’s interesting for me because a lot of times I can’t tell if I am passionate about drawing or if I am just good at it,” Lee expressed. “When a drawing comes out right, it hits harder than most things do. In a way, I feel like that could be passion.” 

For Lee, this skewed relationship with drawing stems from a much deeper issue that anyone can relate to, which is burnout. 

“One thing is I am very inconsistent with my drawings. I have very big breaks between each piece of work I produce, and those long periods are usually me not drawing at all,” Lee shared. “I think I draw a lot less than people think because I get burnt out for months at a time. I always try to remind myself, that it’s normal to get discouraged when you are doing something you enjoy”. 

Although Lee battles with many emotions surrounding his drawing, it will always be a part of him and his life. 

“The months that I go without drawing or doing any type of art, I don’t feel like myself,” Lee revealed. “Sometimes, when everything is going wrong, I just think that means it’s time to draw, so I can remind myself that I have something I am good at.”

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About the Contributor
Peyton Stagliano
Peyton Stagliano, Executive Editor

Comments (4)

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  • P

    P.HuynhJan 18, 2024 at 11:32 am

    An amazing artist, kind student, and compassionate young man! I’m so proud to be his teacher.

  • C

    Chris KimJan 17, 2024 at 10:08 pm

    Wow!! That’s such an inspiring story!! I literally almost cried hearing that he cried and the teacher cried. He’s so talented it’s really rocking me world 🌎🌍🌏 keep up the good work lee!! 🤩🥰🥳🥺

  • L

    Lauren WJan 17, 2024 at 12:44 pm


  • W

    Willa MaglandJan 16, 2024 at 7:00 pm

    This is one of my favorite recent pieces from the KT. An incredibly beautiful story with wonderful writing. Thank you, Stagliano, and I’m hoping I get the chance to meet Nick! We have so many incredible people in the pods!