Graphics Graduate wins award in honour of former Graphics Student, Lee Kent

The ‘Lee Kent Award’ has been developed by the Hugh Baird University Centre to assist graduates who have demonstrated tenacity, flair, creativity and employability skills throughout their time at the University Centre. The Award has been named in honour of our former Graphic Arts student, and friend of Hugh Baird College, Lee Kent.

Lee, who demonstrated the skills and qualities mentioned above, sadly passed away suddenly on 13 December 2019 after a brain haemorrhage. Lee is remembered as an amazing person and regarded by his peers as being funny, super talented, kind-hearted and as always having a smile on his face.

On completion of his Graphic Arts course, Lee kept in constant touch with his tutors about his projects and ambitions.

Shirley Brown and Andrew Jones, tutors on the Graphic Arts (now Graphic Design Degree) course at the University Centre, spoke fondly of their memories with Lee:

Lee would come back to visit, telling us all about his studies, his studio and current projects and we’d discuss his time as a student. We have fond memories of trips away, work he created, the laughter in the studio and how he helped us, as tutors, to develop the course for future designers to hone their skill base in multiple disciplines just like Lee did.

Lee had ambitions of setting up his own business, starting with a clothing company with his best friend Kyle, who was also a student on the course. This resulted in a washing line being set up in the studio where t-shirts would be hanging after we’d experimented with tie-dying. He would attend on his days off to work on and test designs, and create portfolios to showcase in independent shops, including Resurrection in Liverpool City Centre. Lee was an all-round creative, and an inspiration to the students who followed in his footsteps.

On completion of his studies, Lee collaborated with many of his contacts within the Creative Industries, and one such collaboration was with Harry Mytton, a signwriter from Liverpool. After Lee’s sudden passing, Harry contacted the Hugh Baird University Centre about setting up an award in Lee’s name, so that Lee's his creative legacy would live on through the future. The idea of the award was to give future Graphic Design students an opportunity to work in a creative space once they have graduated.

Harry said:

My relationship with Lee burnt bright and fast. It felt like I was only really starting to get to know him and then he was gone. Lee and I shared a workshop space at Make in Liverpool and really, we came together through work and our love of design. He was a graphic designer and I am a sign writer. Our styles clashed, me preferring a traditional style and Lee a modern style which really pushed the boundaries of legibility at times, but we both loved that. We would share ideas and more importantly share laughs. He even tried to teach me how to skate! One collaboration, which involved me painting Lee’s logo on one of his skateboards, ultimately leading to this award. After his death, one of Lee’s friends, Bill, approached me and asked to buy the board.

It wasn’t for sale, but it led to me painting 14 replica boards and raising money to create a legacy for Lee... The Lee Kent Award. It is my hope that this award will become an annual event and the recipient will be given the help needed to flourish in a career of graphic design and chase their own dreams, very much like Lee was.

The Lee Kent award is a fitting tribute to Lee, who will always be remembered at the University Centre and the College as the student who started the drive for freelance, and the link to entrepreneurship within the Graphic Arts course. Peers within Lee’s class and many thereafter aspired to follow the same path as Lee and his work was used many times as an example of best practice.

The certificate for the award has been designed and created by another past student, and Lee’s brother in law, Jay Smith.

After much consideration, it was decided that this year Lewis Hanratty, a Graphics graduate from the Hugh Baird University Centre, should be the recipient of the Award. The Award will involve the Hugh Baird University Centre contributing to a residency for Lewis at the Community Interest Company ‘Make Liverpool’ which is a creative hub where Lewis will occupy a studio space in an organisation that is a magnet for creatives.

Shirley Brown and Andrew Jones commented on the Lee Kent Award:

When we were approached by Harry with regards to setting up the award, we knew it had to relate back to Lee’s journey with us as a student. Therefore, linking with Make Liverpool, where Lee worked, we knew setting up the Lee Kent Award had to be centred around helping a graduate of the Graphic Design Degree course in starting their freelance career in the design industry. This seemed in-keeping and true to Lee’s time on the course and his lasting memory as part of the Graphic Arts family. Lewis Hanratty has the same professional work ethos towards his studies as Lee, with the same creative drive and ambition. Lewis has continued to develop since graduating in 2019 and has started his own journey into the world of freelance by setting up his own business. It is only fitting that he should be the first recipient of this award, in Lee's legacy.

Make Liverpool, where Lee was a resident said about the Lee Kent Award residency:

The Lee Kent legacy was born out of love for the spirit that we saw in Lee and we want it to live on in others.

It's a little bit of him, and we will try to be every bit of the Lee that he would have been - pushing the person to do the most with the opportunity, building their confidence in their abilities and making sure they know they have a friend in us.

Lee’s Legacy will give the opportunity for Lewis to have 12 months (and beyond) working in a bustling creative industry with an array of talented people to support Lewis on his journey of self-employment - mentoring and public moments will see that Lewis is supported in a way that ensures the residency is the most fulfilling it can be.

Moving forward, it is planned that the Lee Kent Award will form one of six new scholarships and sponsorships, three of which will be awarded to new students joining the University Centre with the remaining three being awarded to graduates that have demonstrated the same work ethic, tenacity, creativity and employability skills as Lee did. The fact that the Lee Kent Award will give other students the opportunity to flourish in Lee’s name and memory is a fitting tribute to him.

The photo shows the Lee Kent Award certificate next to Lee Kent.

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