#030 – After the recovery, comes rediscovery

Hi, my name is Han Jie! I’m twenty-three years old, from Singapore and I’m a freelance illustrator and part-time F&B (Food & Beverage) crew. During my time as an illustrator I’ve worked on several small freelance projects. These include wedding pin designs and illustration commissions for friends.

Like many illustrators and artists, I’ve been drawing ever since I was a small kid. Being honest, education wasn’t really my thing. I was just an average student, nothing exceptional. However, in a place like Singapore, education is valued as of upmost importance for a financially stable future.

… I’ve been drawing ever since I was a small kid.

For some, children wanting to become an artist of any sort and not excel academically, is a parent’s worst nightmare. But luckily, my parents were supportive of my passion and were somewhat less strict regarding my education. I am forever thankful for that.

Growing up, I loved illustration. Sadly, things started to take a turn for the worst when I was around sixteen. A few weeks before my birthday I was diagnosed with cancer. It was T-cell non-Hodgkin lymphomas (NHL). My world shattered. A silver-lining though, I was luckily enough to be diagnosed with this cancer before my sixteenth birthday, thus classifying my case as needing child cancer treatment. My journey of a two and a half year treatment plan rapidly began.

During this period of treatment, I lost total interest in art and my love for illustration. The cancer changed me. I guess I had had bigger concerns, understandably. It was an emotional and challenging time. I didn’t create a single piece of illustrative work for nearly two years.

I lost total interest in art and my love for illustration.

This also may have been due to lack socialising, school and inspiration from others. I was just focuses on getting better and beating cancer. The only two places I went were home and the hospital.

Skipping forward to the end of my treatment, I ended my secondary school education with a pretty bad score. But, I was alive. One day, my sister encouraged me to join art school to pursue my passion. She remembered how I lived and breathed illustration and art before my diagnosis. At that point, my passion and motivation was at the lowest it’s ever been. It’s as if I lost my true self. To this day, I’m really not sure how she magically convinced and empowered me.

As if by a miracle, I started to believe in myself again. I was accepted into art school, and it felt incredible and felt like progress. My real passion for illustration started slowly climbing from strength to strength. I rediscovered my love for art, and I became who I am today. I received a lot of support from social media and online friends also, amassing a gradual following on my ‘@gingerbunss’instagram account.

As if by a miracle, I started to believe in myself again.

I hope my illustrations can bring smiles to the faces of many. It’s been a struggle, but as with most things in life, the reward is entirely worth it. Believe in yourself, and push yourself. If I can give one piece of advice, it’s that every piece of art you create, the next will be better.

Never stop creating.


Tan Han Jie is a freelance illustrator based in Singapore. Aside from his illustrative work, he also sells prints and pins. Discover more and support his illustrations below:

/@gingerbunss /Gingerbunss /Prints