UCLan graduate Bee overcomes traumatic childhood to achieve career dream
A talented University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) graduate has achieved their ambition to become an animator despite a difficult start in life caused by a turbulent childhood.
Bee Joy graduated from UCLan this week with a first-class degree in animation, two industry awards under their belt and a full-time job already in the bag, thanks to years of hard work and sheer determination not to be defined by their past.
The 22-year-old, who says they “never expected to still be here,” has channelled their difficult life experiences into their work to produce thought-provoking animations that ultimately led to a job with online video production company Video Tile, alongside other freelance jobs for Kilogramme Animation Studio.
Bee said: “There were times when I didn’t think I’d ever make it this far but UCLan gave me a way out and a chance to start again.
“I had to cope with my past alongside fighting hard for a better future. University was my last shot at life, so I took it. Shifting years of eating disorders and self-harm I transformed my past experiences through my craft, while ensuring I could tick the boxes needed for the animation industry at the same time.
"There were times when I didn’t think I’d ever make it this far but UCLan gave me a way out and a chance to start again."— UCLan animation graduate Bee Joy
“My lecturers were incredible to work with and supported me through my lowest periods. They challenged and pushed me out of my comfort zone to allow me to thrive. My tutor Mark Mason was an animator on my favourite childhood TV series, Forgotten Toys, which had a very large impact on my life. It feels like I have come full circle.”
Bee describes their animations as a way of surviving through self-expression and wants to use their skills for the greater good to help other people. Bee’s grandmother died in 2020 and the experienced heavily influenced their final year project, a TV series called the Purgatory Tree.
"I created an animation for young people to provide the support I wish I’d had during my youth."— UCLan animation graduate Bee Joy
“I created an animation for young people to provide the support I wish I’d had during my youth” Bee said. “It is for people who don’t have a role model, or someone they can confide in. They can instead walk into the woods and share their troubles with a tree that will listen. I want to transform dark into light through animation.
“My grandma actually inspired me to become an animator after we watched Tinkerbell together one day. Purgatory Tree was my way of giving something back to her.”
The Preston-based animator already has two industry-sponsored awards for projects completed as part of their degree studies; The Preen Award For Insight, for ingenuity of research and creative insight, and the Frontier IP Group plc Award for Craft, which recognises a viable commercial solution or application.
Kevin Tewis-Allen, Managing Director of Preen, said: "Preen were so proud to sponsor an award and that the star of the show for us was Bee Joy, an incredible 'artist' who has the most incredible kind heart, laser-focused work ethic, insatiable energy and positive drive.
"... Bee Joy, an incredible 'artist' who has the most incredible kind heart, laser-focused work ethic, insatiable energy and positive drive."— Kevin Tewis-Allen, Managing Director of Preen
“Their work and creative narrative shouted high above anyone else at the show, and there was some epic talent on the day. I made a personal bond to mentor and help Bee fly commercially and we have built upon that bond and are already working on some super exciting projects.
“Bee has made it onto our approved roster of animators so that when the right brief comes in they will be able to pitch their ideas directly to the client for the paid work and, who knows, maybe even entered into an award.”
Bee is now looking forward to a positive future and developing their career after securing a job through UCLan’s annual Careers Jamming Session (cJAM) event, where students learn from the best in the business and pitch to industry executives.
They added: “I had 60 seconds to show off my talents and passion for the industry and thankfully Michael Goode from Video Tile and Jon Turner and Claire Grey from Kilogramme gave me a chance. I bet my life on animation, putting my heart and soul into it and it paid off. I’m so very grateful for all I’ve achieved.”