Image : Hertz, 2013 (CL-Q)
Soundtrack : Out Getting Ribs — King Krule

I was recently called “Emerging”, taking a moment to understand what it really means, reminded me of when I won BFI’s Future Film Festival: Best Documentary (2014) with my film Hertz. It was the first time I was called anything other than hard working. To be honest, there was a feeling of a lack of achievement, being told I was an Emerging Designer/ Artist/Director…


// Fresh off bankrupting myself after paying off my student loan over the summer period, I could see the trajectory of my work for the next couple years, and I knew I didn’t have the passion for taking that road for long. So despite being laughed at in my face by an ex-tutor, spending my last £65 for the application and not having enough money for the £500 deposit, I applied to the Royal College of Art…I got in… received the £500 award from the BFI and deposited it straight into the RCA account. //

Anonymous : So…what is success to you? 
CL-Q : –

I always thought it was obvious, and potentially the same answer for everyone…

I’ll be honest, I took three days to really understand what I really wanted. I’ve always known how I wanted to reach that point; not indebted to anyone and covered in the battle scars as evidence that I pushed myself to the limit to achieve it. There’s something about the easy road, that automatically makes me diminish the outcomes worth, it’s still something I still need to understand. (maybe it’s the thought that I don’t deserve it)

Returning to the original question, but this time more specifically ‘What are my markers of success? From what I can see it boils down to three components; wealth, recognition and respect.

Pinpointing your definition of success is hardly that straightforward because now I’m plagued with questions:

How wealthy do I NEED to be?
How many people NEED to know about me?
How many people NEED to know about my work?
Whose name gets mentioned in the same sentence as mine?

For me the term “emerging” came across as a title bestowed on me, almost saying you’re worth watching. To be honest I felt honoured and at the same time indebted (you already know how I feel about debt). Looking into it a bit further, I reject the commendation of validity and state of being “emerging” is a standard right of passage, if you have the resilience to endure it. Taking the latter definition suggests I’m heading in the right direction for notoriety. But the former suggests I’m still a crab in the bucket, waiting for someone to pick me out, all the while fatally competing with my peers.

Whichever way you look at it, you’re on the road to the mountain top of “____________” and you need to take control of where you want to stop, catch a breath and look behind you and say I’ve made it this far but this is where I’m going.

So how big do you want to be? Paul Arden (It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want to Be). Are you willing to pay the price for it? Let’s not forget that wealth, recognition and respect don’t always go together, ask Damien Hirst.

This comes just after being told that to be poor, or to only have enough to maintain the lifestyle that you need to keep going is quintessentially selfish…Imagine! But it makes sense. How can you help anyone if you’re limited in resources? So, potentially being wealthy is almost an obligation, therefore finding the value in what you do and the opportunities to maximise its impact is a duty… Providing you maintain your integrity, authenticity and therefore respect and notoriety, nobody said it would be easy, which is why so many fail.

Enough avoiding the question, this is how I define success and the initial marker of finally emerging in my field.

The ability to self-fund my work but also enable others with mutual interests to produce work as cultural agitators. Accommodated in institutions like the British museum forming an alternative perspective corner to every exhibition they put on. In effect admitting that what they portray is, in fact, the true definition of “science” humanity’s best guess, accepting the possibility of being wrong.

Finally to garner a cult support in the thousands allowing me to develop autonomously and authentically. I hope by defining my end, in the beginning will illustrate my ambition and character, demonstrating what I’m willing to work towards. In hope to be completely aware and in control of my sacrifices for success.

It’s fair to say that knowledge of self is key when embarking on your definition of success, and I know I hate failure more than I like success, so I’m hoping that mentality will keep my soul intact.

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To watch Hertz click here

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