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My Saturday Night Art Party

I was asked yesterday if I was going to an event that we were invited to, called “Art Party is Dead.”

My answer was “no, I already have plans.”

Now, I’m sure “Art Party Is Dead” was a blast for everyone that went. I’m also sure that among the body painted performers and neon lighting, people were wondering where Klee and I were.img_8278

For the record, we are hermits, don’t drink all that much, and are socially awkward… But that doesn’t usually stop us from uncomfortably socializing and pretending to be normal.

Like I said before, we had plans…

We were having our own awesome art party with some very special guests to our studio.

There was music, art, imagination, wonder, good friends, pretty girls, good lookin’ dudes, and even some body paint… Lots of body paint… But probably not the kind of body paint you are thinking.

If you ever want to watch something great, give a paintbrush and some paint to a 1 year old and let them take over… It’s amazing, and scary all at the same time.

Also, watching a child paint seems to bring magic back into the world… Just sayin.

So if you are ever wondering what an awesome time looks like for an artists like me… It looks like this:




So, thank you for the invite, and I do apologize for not going (maybe next time), but as you can see… Awesomeness was to be had in my art studio.

Also, thank you to my special guests… Hope you enjoyed the visit 🙂


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New Glow In The Dark Series


glow-in-the-dark (1)

I’m so excited to introduce a series that has been a long time waiting. These pieces are the first of a series that I have planned out for the next few months, keep an eye out. These use a special pigment that holds a charge for several hours and is non toxic. Coming soon. Watch the video for more information.

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A New Series Is Born

I recently was commissioned to capture the emotion and feeling of a sunset over the ocean. Despite the fact that I don’t do landscapes, I agreed and was quite excited about working on the concept. I think it was the new approach to the idea of a landscape, instead of copying what you see, which is not challenging to me, it was all about the feeling of what you were looking at.


A sunset has so much power, beauty, and meaning, that the idea of capturing that in texture and color was an enticing challenge. As it turns out I absolutely LOVE working on this series. Time to go photograph the ocean and different landscapes.


If you want to find out more about the process I used to create the piece “Allison’s Ocean View” watch the video below.

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Wizard Of Oz Painting

Wizard Of Oz Painting

I just finished creating an auction piece for the Big Brothers Big Sisters Gala event in January 2015. This piece is called “The Power Was There All Along” and is mixed medium on Canvas 24X36. One of the mediums I used in this particular piece is 80 Carats of genuine red ruby. I wanted to do something exceptional with this pre-debut piece that would pave the way for the other pieces in the series.


This Piece begs to ask “What if Dorothy know she had the power all along?”

I’ve always been fascinated with popular fairytale and folklore and have been planning on doing a full series using elements from the stories. Until now, I wasn’t necessarily sure how I would portray the characters. All of my artwork has to have some kind of empowering message for it to have the emotional drive that is necessary for me to create.

Since a lot of the old fairy tales have trials and tribulations that the character has to face before their growth in the end, I was having a difficult time putting the pieces together in my mind. They were a little more dark and troubling than empowering which is the common message in my pieces.

Why start with a Wizard of Oz painting? The Gala for 2015 is themed “A night in Oz,” which was the perfect opportunity for me to take the series from the conceptual stage to reality. Over a period of a couple months, I researched and sketched out several ideas that ended up in the trash bin. One morning after a dream about riding a dinosaur into a field of corn, the idea came to me.

I realized that I was trying to stay true to the nature of the stories, yet the story was being read by me and my unique perspective and interpretation. Instead of researching what someone else thinks the story means, I simply needed to express what I got from the story and my own twist on it. Immediately, the piece came together in my mind and I couldn’t keep myself from creating it, which is a good sign for me.

The series will be called “A Modern Fairytale” and will debut in September of 2015. There will be twenty works in the collection in addition to the BBBS piece.


The crushed rubies were an idea that I had earlier when thinking about the series. I wanted to add elements that are not typically used in art, but that are essential in the stories. I find it challenging and fun to push myself  beyond anything I’ve done before. Besides, who can pass up an opportunity to crush precious stones with a hammer.


Wizard Of Oz Painting was originally published on Rafi Was Here Studios

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10 Success Tips That Scream Awesomeness

10 Success Tips That Scream Awesomeness

If you’re serious about creating lasting and significant change in your world this year – as opposed to merely thinking and talking about it for another year – there are a few things you might want to think about in order to help make those intentions a reality…I’m sharing these with you because I think you are awesome and these particular thoughts changed my life… Don’t take my word for it though, just food for thought.

breaking-through-full1. Know what success is. If you don’t know what success is (for you), how can you possibly create it?

Success is different things for different people and one person’s success (a pregnancy for example) might be another person’s catastrophe. That’s because success (or failure) is not so much about the situation, circumstance, event or outcome as it is about what that “thing” means to the person in the middle of it. In order to create success, you must first define it – and far too many people haven’t. Be very clear about what you want and don’t want for your life. Clarity produces excitement. Excitement produces momentum. Momentum produces behavioral change. Behavioral change produces different results and eventually, the internal vision becomes an external reality. Yeah! Get Awesome in the house!

calm-in-universe-profile2. Get comfortable being uncomfortable.

Some people will live a life of second-best, of compromise and of under-achievement simply because they are (1) controlled by fear (2) always looking for the magic pill or shortcut and (3) not prepared to do the tough stuff. People who always take the easy option are destined for mediocrity. At best. Constantly avoiding the discomfort means constantly avoiding the lessons and the personal growth. Pain could be a great teacher. Not always what we want, but sometimes what we need. I feel like the longer you hold on to some way of thinking that ultimately doesn’t work for you, eventually you are going to feel uncomfortable any way, so you might as well choose. Besides, it’s never as bad as we imagine.

dove3. Seek to be righteous, not right.

Just to be clear, my definition of righteous is to do what you believe is the right thing, for you, and NOT anyone else. The need to be “right” speaks of arrogance, insecurity, ego and stupidity. It’s also synonymous with failure. The person who constantly needs to be right will miss out on much of what life has to teach him and alienate himself from others. Arrogance repels, humility attracts. Chances are, if you are trying really hard to explain your reason or point of view to someone then you are in the midst of needing to be right. I believe there is no right or wrong, just opinions and perspective. Say what you gotta say, then listen, you may change your mind about what you think is right or you just wont agree. Either way, there is no point in trying to prove your point.

4. Seek respect, not popularity.

It’s been said that our nature is “who we are” and our reputation is who people think we are. When the two are synonymous, we’re usually on the right path. In fact, I would say just respect yourself. If you are wondering how other people feel about you, or whether or not they respect you, that is still trying to be popular in their eyes. This leads to a lot of people pleasing and worrying about your reputation. People are fickle and judge you based on how they feel about themselves at that moment. Doesn’t really have much to do with you, so you might as well just focus on respecting, loving and being your biggest cheerleader.

expression-by-rafi-perez5. Embrace mess.

To embrace mess is to embrace life because life is messy, unpredictable, unfair, uncertain, lumpy and bumpy. So get used to a little chaos. Embrace it even. While others succumb to the messiness and unpredictability of the human experience, make a conscious choice to be the calm in the chaos. You can look around and realize how even though the chaos seems to have no rhyme or reason, everything in your existence will make sense on some level to you. It’s an opportunity to be introspective and take a look at what kind of things you may be focused on.

6. Don’t become your parents.

Or your boss. Or anyone but you. The enormity of conformity is a problem for the wanna-be success story. Sure, your parents are great and by all means respect them, love them and learn from them, but please don’t become them; that’s just plain ugly and a little bit tragic. Listen to, and learn from other people, but think, act and decide for yourself. And no, you don’t need anyone’s approval or permission; you’re a grown ass man or lady now. It’s okay.

7. Use more of what you already have.

Imagine what you could achieve if you took all the knowledge, intelligence, opportunities, time, skill and talent that you currently have and absolutely milked it. What if you already have more than enough talent to become wildly successful? Well, you do. There go the excuses. And that voice that’s telling (some of) you right now that you don’t have what it takes to become successful, that’s called fear. Not logic, fear. Not reality, fear. Unless of course, you allow that to become your reality. Be mindful that the voice in your head (the very loud, annoying and persistent one) is rarely a reflection of your potential and mostly a manifestation of your insecurity. And no, you’re not alone in your self-doubt; it’s a universal condition. Many people fail, not because they don’t have what it takes, but because they don’t use what they already have. Successful people typically don’t have more innate potential, luck, time or opportunity than the next person, but they consistently find a way to use much more of what they have at their disposal. While the majority are rationalizing their lack of decision making and action taking, these guys are finding a way to get the job done. The question is not “how much ability do you have, but how much will you use?”. Beside, you can never fail at anything as long as you don’t give up… And you won’t give up if you focus on what you have instead of what you don’t.

1000968_10152914261938532_1547682943_n8. Be an innovator, not an imitator.

Not too many sheep succeed. Baaah. Sometimes it’s a good idea to build your own team rather than join someone else’s. Don’t let your fear stand in the way of your potential to create, innovate or lead. When I decided I was going to begin my art career (after a little persistent nudging from my wife) I was given all kinds of opportunities to be part of projects or dreams that weren’t mine. I realized that my focus would get mixed up and I would find myself frustrated with the situation. I also felt like I was being spread too thin and didn’t have time to work on my own projects. If you are going to focus on something, focus on your success and innovations. I’ve been more helpful to people around me in a focused and confident position than I ever was trying to follow another persons dream.

9. Do what most won’t.

If you want to achieve what most people won’t (happiness, joy, calm, wealth, optimal health, balance) then don’t do what they do. If you want to be like the majority, then do what they do. Producing different results comes from doing different things. Simple really. And effective. Most people won’t persevere, won’t finish what they start, won’t find the good, won’t do what it takes, won’t question their long-held beliefs, won’t be solution-focused, won’t do what scares them and won’t “be the change” they want to see in their world. Choose to be different. Choose to be weird… it’s awesome.

10. Be like water.

Powerful. Gentle. Adaptable. Ever-changing. Being static in a dynamic world – like the one you and I inhabit – is a recipe for disaster. If you can’t adapt, you can’t succeed. Our practical, three dimensional reality, and everything in it, is in a constant state of transition, while some of us are in a constant state of “same”. Statues don’t succeed, they just get crapped on. Every thing is in movement, everything is growing, changing, evolving. So be flexible, don’t hold on to things simply because they have always been there or you believe that’s just how things are. Be flexible, if not then watch out for the pigeons.

Do You Like this? We Like You 🙂

10 Success Tips That Scream Awesomeness was originally published on Rafi Was Here Studios

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Art To Buy : 5 Art Collectors Reveal What Drives Them

This is an amazing article by Helen Chang for the Wall Street Journal. It’s always interesting to me to see the different perspectives of art collectors. People have so many different tastes and reasons for doing what they do, buying art is a very personal thing. There is no right or wrong way to collect or buy art. Read on it’s pretty interesting.


Every man is an artist, said Joseph Beuys. That may be, but not every artist is worth collecting.

An art collector must make the distinction, and his task is more difficult than ever. Competition is stiffer, as new buyers emerge from Asia, Russia and the Middle East. Art is more expensive — Sotheby’s said it sold about $5 billion of fine and decorative art last year, up 39% from 2006, while Christie’s sold about $6 billion, up 30% — and auction records are shattered regularly. And the sources for artworks are mushrooming — from international art fairs and biennials in Athens and Dubai, to galleries showing works from India to Greenland.

Fine art has entered the pop mainstream — Japanese artist Takashi Murakami made the cover for rapper Kanye West’s latest album — and owning art is the latest barometer of trendiness.

But beyond the hip factor, what compels one to buy art at all? Why are some satisfied with just looking, while others feel the need to possess? Beuys himself thought collecting was inhibiting. Just storing his own finished works hampered new ideas, he thought, and he sold his art partly to break with past phases.

But one man’s burden can be another’s pleasure. Francesca von Habsburg, scion of a collecting dynasty, says she collects because of her restless curiosity, as well as her personal crusade to support new commissions. There are patient anthropologist types such as Uli Sigg, the leading collector of contemporary Chinese art, who collect in order to better understand the world around them. Or those like London-based Amir Shariat, who says collecting is a way to better understand oneself.

Julia Stoschek, heiress of a German auto-parts company, collects in order to draw nearer to the artistic process, as did Beuys’s early patrons, the Van der Grinten brothers, who began as artists themselves.

Why he collects: to try to understand China

Contemporary art is a very good way to access a culture, says Uli Sigg, whose unyielding discipline in studying China has resulted in a collection of roughly 1,600 pieces of contemporary Chinese art.

When visiting Beijing for the first time in 1978, then a representative of the Schindler Elevator Co. to establish a business venture, Mr. Sigg, 61, says he had “no idea” about China, nor had he ever been particularly interested. At business meetings, he says, “I had huge deficiencies in understanding the people sitting on the other side of the table, and I knew I had to close this gap somehow.”

Already an art collector in his native Switzerland with works by artists such as Rachel Whiteread and Gerhard Richter, he delved into Beijing’s nascent underground art scene — “discreetly,” he says — which was slowly emerging from the petrification of Socialist Realism, the sole mode of artistic expression permitted by Mao. Now, art has “given me an idea of most people,” he says.

It wasn’t until the early 1990s, after a decade on the sidelines talking to insiders to get an overview of the scene, that Mr. Sigg actually bought anything — a triptych of tulip blooms recalling Georgia O’Keeffe and painted by a young woman artist whose work he wanted to promote. It took that long for Chinese artists to arrive at their own visual vocabulary based on their history, symbols and language, he says. Until the late ’80s, artists raced through the “-isms” — impressionism, expressionism, abstract painting — compressing almost a century of Western art history into a decade, and with uninteresting results, he says. “It’s this Chinese skill of copying, absorbing, then very quickly making something new of what they have seen of outside cultures” that fascinates him most about China’s artists, he says.

By the mid ’90s, Mr. Sigg had formulated a collecting plan. “I realized that nobody collected Chinese art even remotely systematically, which I thought was very odd for one of the biggest, oldest cultures in the world,” he says. One reason: “Most art couldn’t be publicly exhibited; it was only possible to hold very small studio exhibitions, or in apartments or cellars, and these lasted only 24 hours and were only communicated to a very small circle,” he says.

So Mr. Sigg tracked down key works from past exhibitions to begin collecting examples in all media of what he thought important in Chinese society — the obsessions with consumerism, taboos, the body and of hyperurban growth. He scoured the countryside as well as major cities, visiting more than a thousand studios, he says, in order to chart every emerging artistic movement.

Almost three decades and several factories later, as well as a stint as the Swiss ambassador to China from 1995 to 1998, Mr. Sigg, now vice chairman of the board of directors of Zurich-based Ringier media group, says understanding China, in fact, is a question that goes far beyond contemporary art.

His collection “isn’t only about collecting art objects,” says Guangzhou-based curator Zhang Wei of Vitamin Creative Space, “but [about] the concepts and energy that form Chinese society, and a channel for him to explore other possibilities of existence — what human beings could be.”

Today contemporary Chinese art is regularly found in modern art museums and is hotly pursued by collectors — partially due to Mr. Sigg’s relentless promotion of Chinese artists to skeptical curators in the 1990s. He says he practically had to force the late Swiss curator Harald Szeemann to board a plane to China in 1998 to survey artists’ ateliers. Mr. Szeemann, director of the 1999 Venice Biennale, included 20 Chinese artists in the show, and the event is still referred to as the “Chinese biennial.”

Mr. Sigg also created the biennial Chinese Contemporary Art Award as a way to introduce juries of influential curators, such as Alanna Heiss of New York’s PS1, to the scene. He has also served as a personal guide for other curators, including Roger Buergel and Ruth Noack, curators of last year’s Documenta 12 exhibition.

His collection, first shown in 2005 at the Museum of Fine Arts in Bern, where he lives, is touring and will head to Barcelona’s Joan Miró Foundation this spring.

Insider’s tip: Commissioned work can be more affordable

Prices for Chinese art have soared, and Mr. Sigg says “my means are finite,” so he has begun commissioning work. Most recently, this includes an installation with wheelchairs on aging society by Peng Yu and Sun Yuan, shown this spring at the Kunsthaus Graz in Austria, and two works from Feng Mengbo based on traditional Chinese shadow puppet plays.

Why she collects: To document her generation

“It was always a dream of mine to become a collector,” says Julia Stoschek, 32, whose grandfather founded Brose Fahrzeugteile, a German auto-parts company.

This past summer Ms. Stoschek opened her five-year-old video and media art collection in a four-story former factory in Düsseldorf, timed to the Documenta 12 exhibition in Kassel, the Münster Sculpture show and the Venice Biennale.

Her first public exhibition, called “Destroy, she said,” which she curated from her collection, was received well by critics, and she calls it a milestone. “The opening was very important for me, because now I can work more independently and less self-consciously,” she says.

After finishing her university studies in economics, she founded a nonprofit to support young artists. “This was a good start for me. I wanted to see and understand art from the artists’ side,” Ms. Stoschek says, adding, “Art is not just monetary; my personal aim is to preserve and save art, to support projects. In 20 years, I want to have an important media-art collection of my generation.”

Though her first purchase ever, in 2002, was a painting by the conceptual Spanish artist Pep Agut, Ms. Stoschek, whose home has “a flat-screen in every room and projections everywhere,” says she now focuses on video because it’s the medium of her generation, and for its “enormous spaces for association.” Another of its most wonderful qualities, she says: “You can switch it on, and you can switch it off.”

Among her favorite pieces is a video installation by Doug Aitken, “Interiors” (2002), which she says gives her goosebumps. The room-size work focuses on individuals whose disparate existences merge in a surprise ending.

Ms. Stoschek dates German photo artist Andreas Gursky, and says she knows almost all the artists whose work she collects. Understanding how they develop ideas and bring them to life is what fascinates her the most, she says. It informs her decisions on what to buy, and also helps her avoid reselling works, she says.

Ms. Stoschek usually looks at a piece several times before deciding if it’s the right piece for her collection. With some artists, she’ll follow them for three to four years in hopes of obtaining a “masterpiece” from their overall body of work. She also usually purchases working groups from artists. “It’s better to have several pieces. Sometimes I collect entire rooms of exhibitions because [the pieces] are related,” she says. For research and support, Ms. Stoschek says she employs a team of three art historians, and to search for new talent, she travels frequently to New York to make studio visits. “The U.S. is the important market for media art,” she says.

Insider’s tip: Get good advice, but not too much

“You have to trust the right people,” she says. When starting out, Ms. Stoschek contacted collectors she admired, including Erika Hoffmann and Ingvild Goetz, who is known for her vast media-art collection and who advised Ms. Stoschek on artist agreements and copyrights.

But Ms. Stoschek avoids too much advice, however, refusing to work with art advisers or to limit herself to only a few galleries, in order to maintain her independence. “It’s very important for me to collect for myself, to have something unique,” she says. It’s also for this reason that she avoids art fairs. She says she’s interested in “art that needs time,” which is less suitable to the frenzy of most fairs.

Amir Shariat

Why he collects: He’s addicted to the hunt

There’s something odd about Amir Shariat’s wall cabinet. The rest of the London hedge-fund manager’s office is impeccable: the Aztec-style statue by sculptor Nathan Mabry, a drawing by Richard Forster, sleek Danish wood furniture. But the white cabinet is smudged; one door seems to wear an eagle sticker, the other hangs ajar. Don’t try to close it, it’s the work of contemporary trompe l’oeil and still-life artist Kaz Oshiro. “It’s a painting!” says Mr. Shariat, 36, who obviously delights in his guests’ surprise. Details like the striations of the fake wood veneer — actually oil paint on stretched canvas — hold up under close observation.

It’s the thrill of the unexpected that justifies the hours Mr. Shariat puts in. Weeknights, lunch hours and weekends are spent at galleries. “I like to go and find things,” he says. There’s little that he misses in London, and he visits galleries abroad on business trips. Last year he attended eight art fairs.

“Collecting is being there in the trenches every week,” he says. “It’s time-consuming but very gratifying when you go to hundreds of galleries and then finally, something stands out.”

Mostly he searches for little-known artists, instead of Picassos or Warhols “which don’t require skills to collect, only money,” he says. He declines to name the latest artist he’s been eyeing, fearing it might drive prices up.

Prices for works by artists he has collected have risen. The works of Anselm Reyle, which Mr. Shariat bought several years ago for several thousand euros, have lately been selling for hundreds of thousands of dollars at auction. Another example is Haluk Akakce. “When I bought most of this stuff, people said ‘You’re crazy.’ Years later, they say it’s fantastic,” he says. “Most people can’t relate to much of contemporary art, so that’s why the surprise is even bigger when [the artist] makes it in the end.”

When Mr. Shariat does spot something good, he gets on the phone and reports to his collecting friends. They are a group of five, including Anita Zabludowicz and Fatima and Eskander Maleki, meeting regularly to compare notes and often even buying works together. The circle operates under a gentlemen’s agreement: Whoever finds the artist has first pick. “We exchange ideas and views of artists all the time,” he says. “We give guidance and always [share] very enthusiastically.”

Insider’s tip: Choose works based on both emotion and analysis

Before he buys a work, “the first thing that comes to mind is, is it something that you like? That’s the fundamental question,” he says. If the answer is yes, then a second series of questions must be worked through: How does this work fit into art history? Does it have staying power? Is it long-lasting — will the artist still have value in 100 years’ time? Finally, can the artist continue to develop himself?

Avoid “herd mentality,” he says, and don’t throw money out the window by seeking the latest, trendiest artists. He says he seeks to justify prices by comparing the work in question to something that costs 10 times less, and then asking, is the first piece really 10 times better? Mr. Shariat concedes, however, that even though many contemporary artists are wildly overpriced, art history is also made in part by the monetary value of an art work.

Even if none of the artists in your collection end up with monetary values like Picasso, they should have great personal value. “Don’t forget your taste changes, you change as a human being, and that’s what’s so exciting with art,” he says. “If you go through a lifetime of collecting, and if you can keep the work you’ve bought, it’s very interesting.

Franz Joseph van der Grinten

Why he collects: for his own artistic development, and to build a museum collection

The first works Franz Joseph van der Grinten and his brother Hans bought from Joseph Beuys in 1951 cost what would be equivalent today to €10 each. They were small woodcuts, “Animal Encounter” and “Hind,” geometric and Paleolithic-looking. The young Beuys, then 30, and already radiating charisma, next offered the brothers an entire portfolio of his work.

But the brothers, then 18 and 22, who became acquainted with Beuys through their high school English teacher, didn’t have the money. Aspiring artists themselves, they still lived at home on their family’s small farm in Kranenburg, a village near Düsseldorf.

No matter, Beuys said, pay me whenever you have money to spare, says Franz Joseph van der Grinten, now 75 (Hans van der Grinten died in 2002). So the brothers paid in installments, and when finished, Beuys, who’d recently begun exhibiting at the local Lower Rhine Art Association, presented another portfolio. What the brothers bought from this decade-long arrangement, about 4,000 works, is now the largest Beuys collection in the world.

“We sensed the quality of Beuys’s work very early on, long before we actually understood it,” Mr. van der Grinten says. What struck the brothers most was how Beuys conveyed complex ideas with simple means. As a fighter pilot during World War II, for example, he painted with readily available materials like India ink and toothpaste that often resulted in rough, unpolished-looking works.

The brothers’ collection, which includes other works from the 19th and 20th centuries and is displayed at Moyland Castle in Bedburg-Hau, Germany, documents the brothers’ relationship with the young Beuys as well as with artists at the local Düsseldorf Kunstakademie.

Mr. van der Grinten says he and his brother began drawing and painting lessons as children, and began collecting prints and sketches in order to learn from them. They didn’t have much money, and their finds were often accidental, as they tramped through junk markets and antique shops in Germany, the Netherlands and France.

Hans van der Grinten’s first purchase, at 17, was a Käthe Kollwitz color lithograph he found tucked in a local stationery shop. Another of their most valuable early finds was a painting by Vilmos Huszar, a founder of the de Stijl movement in the Netherlands, spotted hanging for sale on a construction site fence in Nijmegen, across the Dutch border. During this time Beuys was an invaluable art mentor to the brothers, as they talked while doing farm chores or while organizing exhibitions of their works in the van der Grinten family barn.

Later, Franz Joseph became an art teacher and Hans became a curator, and they decided to build a collection for a museum. They befriended artists whose work interested them, including cardboard sculptor Erwin Heerich and the painters Rudolf Schoofs and Hermann Teuber, and others who studied or taught at the nearby Düsseldorf Art Academy, where Beuys also taught. “That friendship is beneficial to the understanding of art is clear,” Mr. van der Grinten says. “One sees things with more patience, with sympathy.”

The brothers also lent support to artists by organizing exhibits and writing critical essays. “We promoted these artists not only to help encourage the value of their work, but also for the effect it can have for an artist to know that someone believes in him,” Mr. van der Grinten says.

Insider’s tip: Follow your instincts to lesser-known artists

Only recently has art begun selling for huge amounts of money, “a new phenomenon that [has become] a constraint for both artists and museums,” says Mr. van der Grinten. Collectors shouldn’t be swayed by the latest run-up in prices, he says. His advice is to instead follow your instincts and curiosity. To increase your understanding, trace the origins of the art movements you’re interested in, he says, and be conscious of lesser-known artists whose work stands outside the mainstream.

Francesca von Habsburg

Why she collects: To experience the creation of art

Francesca von Habsburg, founder of contemporary art foundation T-B A21 in Vienna, has changed her attitude toward collecting. “The materialistic desires of the 20th century are waning,” she breezily declares. “What people are looking for is experience.”

The daughter of fabled collector and steel magnate Baron Hans Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza (and wife of Austrian archduke Karl Habsburg), Ms. von Habsburg, 49, now says she is interested in commissioning art. She says the shift is a way of “moving beyond just being happy and satisfied with a feeling of acquisition, to being involved in the creative process.”

Ms. von Habsburg’s five-year-old foundation focuses on ephemeral objects and experience-based works. She commissioned a pavilion for the 2005 Venice Biennale from artist Olafur Eliasson and architect David Adjaye called “Your Black Horizon,” a structure of wooden slats that channeled the changing light of the Venetian sky throughout the day. It was installed on the island of San Lazzaro, reachable from Venice by an hourly boat.

Last fall it moved to St. Lopud, Croatia. Getting there requires a half-hour hike, then a half-hour boat ride. She also commissioned Dan Graham’s puppet play “Don’t Trust Anyone Over 30,” performed at Art Basel Miami in 2004. “Every experience is totally different,” she says, “and the enjoyment of being able to satisfy one’s own curiosity is huge.”

She says she’s become more introverted in the past year, and the family feuds over possession of her father’s collection after he died in 2002 spurred her to a behind-the-scenes role. “I found I lost interest in the obsession with owning,” she says. “I didn’t want to be that sort of a collector — although I started that way.”

As an art patron, she contributes more than just money. She’ll also wield her network, name and know-how to steer works toward the right venues and audiences. “I’m a problem-solver. Before I brush my teeth, I’ll send an SMS to someone to move a project just a bit further,” she says.

In exchange, she gets insight into the artist’s work. “For me, the first thing is that it’s a massive learning curve,” she says.

Social and political issues have taken an increasingly important position in the foundation’s collecting and commissioning activities, she says. She recently learned of six young and completely unknown artists in Myanmar, whose work is based on video images of the military regime’s crackdown on pro-democracy protesters last fall.

The work is “an extraordinary personal manifestation for these people, versus what we see on TV,” she says.

She’ll support their work by “financing a platform and audience for stories that otherwise wouldn’t be told.” Details are yet to be finalized, but the work is planned to be exhibited “guerrilla style,” she says, popping up in museums that will let Ms. von Habsburg use openings between their regular exhibits.

Insider’s tip: Commission to educate yourself, as well as help artists

Ms. von Habsburg says the patronage practice will radically transform the art world. “Philanthropy is a crucial counterbalance to what is a very strong market,” she says. With support from patrons, artists can concentrate on developing themselves, instead of making only what sells, “staying with the same formula and dying for that reason,” Ms. von Habsburg says.

Commissioning also serves as a valuable education, she says. “Commissioning helps collectors answer the $10 million question: what to buy? Once you get involved, it prepares you much better for making decisions. Otherwise you will always be influenced by curators, dealers, salespeople,” she says. Meanwhile, she adds, “Doing commissions, I’ve spent infinitely less money than dripping around art fairs.”

If you are interested, you can write to Helen Chang at


Art To Buy : 5 Art Collectors Reveal What Drives Them was originally published on Rafi Was Here Studios

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Buying ART is an intensely personal and, even at times, emotional experience. Even seasoned collectors sometimes agonize when acquiring a new piece. We often feel a pressure to “get it right.” Unlike personal items or even furniture, which may go out of style, ART is often considered to be a lasting investment — one that reflects our taste and our design aesthetics.

Expectations about ART can be high, and may not always be reasonable or realistic. No wonder we feel pressure when faced with a decision about what to buy!

Buy what you like.

When you look at a piece, does it appeal to you, or resonate with you in some way? How does it make you feel? Do you think you will still like it next year? There’s no explanation why certain pieces ‘speak’ to certain people…they simply do.

Trust your eye, instinct and feelings.

Knowing what you don’t like is as important as knowing what you like.


Know what you are buying.

Ask questions about the artist (read the Artist’s bio), the process, the materials used, the artist’s intent (read the Artist’s statement). Does the piece appear to be creatively conceived and skillfully executed?

Don’t buy for investment.

No one can guarantee an increase in value. If you follow your taste and your taste leads you to the next Picasso, then you are one of the lucky ones. Great collections have been built by people simply buying work they liked.

Buy from a reputable source.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with buying street art. Buy art from a knowledgeable and reputable source. The most reputable source is the artist themselves. So if they are on the street, then buy it from them 🙂

TIPS FOR COLLECTING & BUYING ART was originally published on Rafi Was Here Studios

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6 Tips for buying your first piece of art

I recently ran across this article and it was just too good to not share. This article was written by Peter Hort. Mr. Hort is a part-time judge and attorney, and, with his wife Jamie Cohen Hort, a passionate contemporary art collector. He is heir to the Hort Family Collection, and he is a founding member of the Rema Hort Mann Foundation, which awards grants to emerging artists.

The most important tips for any new collector:



1. Figure out what you like. The better education you have, the better collection you’ll have.

I suggest going to museums and art galleries and trying to familiarize yourself with different periods and styles.This is also where the internet, and specifically Artsy, can be a wonderful resource in figuring out what your taste is, and discovering artists you didn’t know exist. For example, you might come across emerging artists on the Artsy network, through galleries organizations like The Rema Hort Mann Foundation, which supports the careers of emerging artists in New York and Los Angeles.

Very often you evolve from what you originally thought you liked—sometimes it’s before you buy your first piece, because you did a little research. But unfortunately sometimes it’s after you buy your first piece; this could be because your taste becomes more sophisticated or you find that you like abstract or conceptual work better, which is often tougher to take as a first piece.


2. Determine what you’re buying: Are you buying something that you love and you want purely because you think it’s great? Or are you buying something that you love but you secretly want to be an investment? There are different types of purchases in the art world.

If you’re buying it because you love it, it’s much easier. All you have to do is figure out if you can afford it, and if the price is something that you think is worth the passion you have for it. If you’re buying with an eye toward investment and you want it to actually have long-term value in the future, it’s a little bit more tricky. It’s very important for a first-time collector to know that there are various factors that affect the price of the work, for example, a work on canvas is generally more valuable than a work on paper by the same artist; or if it’s an edition versus a one-of-a-kind piece.


3. Set a budget. In your mind you really need to set a budget in terms of what you can afford, and I would say you have to be prepared to spend a little bit more. The things that I regret in purchasing are not any works that I purchased, at least so far, but the works that I didn’t purchase. They were things just a little outside my price range but, man, I loved it and I didn’t buy it. And then I lost the opportunity. If you really love it, trust your instincts. As my grandmother used to say, true love is forever. Set a budget and be prepared to spend a little more, A, because there’s shipping and insurance and things like that; but, B, because if it’s the something you really love and it’s a little bit over your price range, I would say “stretch”. Life is short and you want to be inspired.

4. Do your research. The art world really can be overwhelming, so you should talk to people. I suggesting talking to other collectors, or appraisers, consultants, or other gallerists (but be aware that gallerists are trying to sell you something). When you learn a few things about the art world, you’ll learn that the listing price is always the sale price. Galleries will sometime give discounts to collectors because sometimes they’re rewarding a collector who’s been loyal or sometimes they’re trying to build [a relationship] with a new collector. So do your research.


5. Understand that size does matter. You want to be sure that this [work] fits in your apartment or home. I can’t say how many times people I know—especially early collectors—fall in love with a piece, buy the piece, and then they bring it home and it doesn’t fit over their mantle. You must have a pretty good idea that you have the right wall space for an artwork before you buy it.

6. Track your purchase. There should be a clear, traceable path from artist to owner, and it should be documented: save emails, invoices, and receipts. If you eventually want to valuate or sell a work, it’s important to have this documentation.

Find The original article at


6 Tips for buying your first piece of art was originally published on Rafi Was Here Studios

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Metamorphosis By Rafi Perez

This piece is called metamorphosis. With the beginning of the New Year, I find myself reflecting on my life a lot. As an artist who creates pieces based on my reflections, emotions, and experiences it is pretty darn awesome that I can fill a sketchbook simply by reflecting on my year.


I love looking closely at circumstances that caused me to stress out a bit. Hindsight the “stressing” was unnecessary, in fact in most cases, what ever was going on didn’t resolve itself until I decided I was done stressing. Funny how that works.

A long time ago, well, what feels like ages ago, I was typically stressed out about something. You would usually find me depressed, angry, overwhelmed, and complaining about something. A few years ago, I walked away from that version of me. I decided life was too short to spend every day, every year. Every moment, repeating the same drama over and over. I realized it wasn’t any of the myriad of things I was blaming… It was me, my perspective was whack. I held on to so much drama and blame, that I lived it over and over every day.

Things are very different for me today…

Every day, I try to think about things that make me feel good. Things that make me feel empowered, beautiful, awesome and any other fantabulous word I can think of. I was done talking down to myself and became my biggest cheerleader.

I decided I was done feeling guilty about stuff. I realized that things just kept adding up. I was punishing myself over and over because of mistakes I had made 20 years early and adding them to things I felt guilty about now. I realized I wasn’t going to move forward if I couldn’t forgive myself. Along with guilt usually comes regret… You can’t go back and change anything, get over it and move forward.

This piece is based on letting go and moving forward. Changing your story and emerging from the old story like a butterfly, taking flight in your own destiny.




Metamorphosis By Rafi Perez was originally published on Rafi Was Here Studios

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Be Different

I pride myself in the fact that I believe I am extremely different than anybody else. Of course, the truth is that everyone is unique and nothing like anyone else.

I did however spend a good deal of my life trying to be someone else. At the time, I didn’t see it that way, I called it normal. “I just want to be normal” I would say, and feel the frustration that comes with trying to achieve something that doesn’t exist.

I eventually realized that there was no such thing as normal. “Normal” was this boring concept where life was predictable, you were predictable and nothing really exciting happens. True, some people have so much of the wrong kind of excitement in their life that they look forward to a little boring… or at least they think they do.

I think we all want to lead exciting and happy lives. I think we all want to be genuine about who we truly are. The problem is that a lot of people are not sure how to reach the person who they believe they are meant to be. This person is usually under years of posturing, white lies and people pleasing.


When I had my realization years ago, I started a process that helped me find me. By paying close attention to what I was saying to other people, I was able to examine if I was being genuine. For a brief period of time, I’m sure folks thought I had lost my mind. It went something like this:

Them – “Hey, you going to meet me later at the bar for a drink?”
Me – “Sure, yeah… That sounds good.”
Them – “Cool, see you later.”
Me – “Wait, I didn’t really mean that. I don’t feel like going out drinking with you.”
Them – “Why not? we always go drinking after work.”
Me – “Well, honestly I think you are a good person, but kind of self destructive.”
me – “Well, actually, I lied, I don’t think you are a good person for me to hang out with. You are angry, self destructive and honestly you’re a bully.”
Them – “Fuck you man, too good to hang out with me all of the sudden?”
me – “No, that’s not what I’m saying… Actually, I think we wont be hanging out any more, you take it however you want.”

This conversation took place after a six year relationship with a friend who was a self destructive alcoholic.

I was self destructive by proxy and all we did was sit there, get annihilated, complain about how unfair the world was, bitch about women and blame everyone else for our misery.


When I was honest with myself I knew that the only reason I was doing it was because I needed to blame other people for the misery in my life. My friend was the perfect sounding board and he was such an aggressive individual that I felt special that he chose me to be friends with. I don’t know, things get all funky and distorted in your mind when you are not yourself. Later, I realized that everyone I surrounded myself with was pretty much the same… This was a reflection of me and who I believed I was. I was part of a group that criticized the things that make me who I am today… Love, hope, empowerment, laughter, and being who YOU know you are, not just a product of your environment. Being different and embracing it is awesome!

I read a story once about Arnold Schwarzenegger that was quite enlightening for me. When he decided to go into acting, he was told that he would never succeed as an actor. He was too big, Had a terrible accent and didn’t have the “Hollywood” look.

He responded with “I am going to be the biggest box office star of the year.”

He then made a movie that bombed terribly. They overdubbed his voice for the movie and it was a disaster. Instead of giving up or taking voice lessons so he could speak like a “Normal” person, Arnold kept going.

He then made a movie where his voice was not dubbed over and eventually became the icon he is today. Imagine a world where you did not have catch phrases like (in best Arnold Schwarzenegger voice) “I’ll be back” or “Get into the Chappa!”

In my opinion, if you embrace what makes you different, life becomes exciting in a very good way.

Be Different was originally published on Rafi Was Here Studios