That said, I don’t want to make myself sound like a victim – my hardheaded desire to retreat into art was as aggressive and unfriendly as I perceived others around me to be – but it did change me. It changed the way I engaged with my work, with people, and with myself. Gone was the complete happiness in simply doing. Living somewhere so big had brought about a need to be noticed, to feel like what I was doing somehow impacted the world. And it also brought in the bordering-on-lunacy feel of living in a vacuum: that everything I did reached absolutely no one, that success (and by extension, a life in art) was a mirage, and that the only way to break out of the silence was by doing, doing, doing.
What this resulted in was a completely different, colder person. Someone who I’m happy to be, but someone who didn’t exist before I moved. A man plagued by self-doubt and frustration, with the only cure being “do more work and do it better,” constantly striving to reach some perfect end while also producing a steady stream of collages, photographs, portraits, drawings, pieces of writing, typographic studies, and designs. I ride my bike from Stamford Hill to Shoreditch in the morning and the only thought is: “How do I make myself better?” The work, and the continued success of it, is constantly on my mind, and on the back-end of the thought is the thought that at any moment it could all collapse. That what success I’ve managed here is built on a shaky foundation, and that I must keep it up, or the whole thing will crumble.