Lee Crutchley is an artist and author from a small town in England that nobody has heard of. He is currently based in Berlin where he is working on his next books, The Nocturnal Journal (September 2017) and Get Lost! (June 2018). He likes to travel to new places, eat cheeseburgers, and spend too much time trying to figure it all out. He hates writing bios. Thankfully when he was 5 years and 6 months old his teacher, Mrs Salt, wrote this school report which is as accurate now as it was then (although he does now have his green swimming badge).
What do you do best?
I’m a good listener, which feels less common these days even though it’s probably more important. Actually, I’m not sure if I am a “good” listener or just a natural listener. I think growing up with my brother had a lot to do with that. He has learning difficulties, and it can often be hard to really understand what he’s trying to say. Not because his speech is especially bad, he just struggles to find the right words and it takes him time to construct his sentences. So you have to listen patiently and intently to understand him at times. So from a very young age I started to develop a natural desire to listen to what people were really saying.
Today, a lot of emphasis is placed on what we’re saying and how we’re saying it. Every platform we have is essentially a platform for us to talk about ourselves, we update our status, share our daily stories, and tweet into the void. But is anyone really and genuinely listening to us? A lot of the time it feels like we’re becoming desensitised to what people are actually saying, because we’re more and more accustomed to the noise of everyone saying things. We are all listening 24/7, but we very rarely stop and take the time to actually hear what’s being said.
What makes you the best?
I always try, I think it’s as simple as that. That is literally all you can ever do, and as long as you have that mentality and innate desire to keep trying you will be okay. And honestly, not many people will tell you this, but you don’t even have to try your best sometimes — sometimes just trying at all is more than enough. There have been plenty of times when I felt like I literally didn’t have it in me to try my best or my hardest, but I always tried just as much as I could. I never really imagined I would end up where I am now, and I never thought I would be doing what I’m doing. But the only reason I am here and doing this is because I tried.
What are your aspirations?
My personal aspirations are probably the same as everyone else’s. I want to live a life that is at least slightly more happy than it is sad, to spend time with people I love and doing things I enjoy, and to make the world a better place even if it’s only in tiny almost invisible ways.
As for business goals, they are very fluid, and I’m not sure if that’s a good or bad thing. Some days I think I have it all figured out, and that I know exactly what I want to be and do. Then other days I’m flailing around on the floor praying that somebody just offers me a regular job so I don’t have to think any more about it. In the most general terms, I just want to make things and I have no solid plans or goals other than that.
I don’t know if I’m allowed to say that my biggest success is that I’m not an awful person? But it feels like that’s everyone’s biggest success in this day and age. Apart from that, I think my biggest success is my last book How to be Happy (or at Least Less Sad), which came from a very personal, real, and ongoing struggle. I’ve had so many messages about that book, from people who have been genuinely and sometimes even life-changingly helped by it. I feel really lucky to have been able to write it, and to have been able to turn a terrible personal situation into something that helped other people, and myself.
Most Challenging Moment?
The hardest thing I’ve ever had to face was my dad dying when I was 20 years old. It was very out of the blue and he was relatively young. I’d never thought that much about people dying before that, but for a time afterwards it was all I could think about. It was hard to keep going, with that very real knowledge that it can just end for you or anyone you love at any time, and without warning. He died a few weeks before I went away to university, and it took me a long time to get back on track and deal with it all. In fact I think I’m still getting back on track now, 16 years later. It’s coming up to what would have been his 60th birthday, so I’ve been thinking about him a lot recently. I feel like I’ve lived a few lifetimes since he died, and I’m a completely different person now. I feel sad that he never got to meet this version of me, but I hope he would be proud of who I am.
I don’t think I have any single motto that I live my life by. It feels impossible to have one single saying that you can base your whole life on? I think I probably have hundreds and they’re constantly changing depending on the situation.
Favorite People/Role Models?
Basically all of my family and friends are role models, for different non-specific reasons. But in “business” Miranda July has always been an inspiration to me. She is someone who always seems to be doing what I listed as my “business goals” earlier, she is making things as and when she has the ideas, without any solid plans or goals. Obviously I know that she probably does have plans and goals, but the fact that she makes work in so many different fields makes me believe that it’s possible for me to be that way too.
I moved to Berlin from the UK just last week, so Berlin is probably my most current favourite place. But I have a long list of favourite places, which includes places like: Nepal, Norway, Cornwall, London, Denmark, Montenegro, anywhere along the coast of the UK, anywhere along the coast of anywhere, and a whole bunch of places I’ve never even been.
I don’t feel like I’m that big of a product/object kind of person, because I’m actively trying to have less stuff most of the time. But I started using the bullet journal system a year ago, and as a chronic to-do list maker that’s been a real revelation to me. So the book I use for my bullet journal is one. Other than that I am quite attached to certain pens and pencils. And I guess my phone is one too because it’s the thing I use most.
This is literally the most difficult question I can think of right now. I’m really trying to reconnect with things I’m passionate about at the moment. Can you ask me again in a few months?