Posted on Leave a comment

Lucky To Be An Artist?

Some people look at my life and say that I am lucky. I create art for a living, have a successful studio business, am married to my best friend, and have a large following of fans and art collectors from all around the world. I really love the work that I do, and I spend a lot of time feeling ridiculously fortunate to be in that position.

As much as some people like to say that I’m lucky, luck had nothing to do with it.

I do believe that sometimes timing, circumstance, serendipity, and privilege play into the choices you make, but even then, your deliberate action determines the course of your life.

People don’t get to do what they want for a living, get awards, come out in newspapers, or get the things they want in life simply because they are lucky. I feel like it is insulting to tell someone they are lucky when they achieve something awesome in life. Luck rarely has anything to do with what actually goes on behind the scenes.

I personally get inspired by stories of long rejection runs. For example the story of Haim Saban, who spent 8 years pitching Power Rangers. Whenever Saban presented the Power Rangers pilot, network execs would ask, “Why do you embarrass yourself with this?” Eventually, someone picked it up and the Power Rangers has been a tremendous success for 30 plus years.

  • J.K. Rowling was rejected by about 12 different publishers.
  • After just one performance, Elvis Presley was fired by Jimmy Denny, and told, “You ain’t going nowhere, son. You ought to go back to driving a truck.”
  • Stephen King’s first novel, Carrie, was rejected 30 times before it was published.
  • Steven Spielberg was rejected by the University of Southern California School of Theater, Film, and Television, THREE TIMES.

Rejection has everything to do with opinion and nothing to do with fact. Power Rangers was rejected by networks because it looked cheap and there was nothing else like it out there to compare it to. They could not SEE beyond the scope of what they knew and based their rejection on popular opinion. Rejection is simply an opinion based on the limit of that particular person’s imagination, or they just don’t like your particular brand of stuff, either way, rejection is all part of the game.

Most times, the success that you see is just the tip of the iceberg. What you see accomplished is only a tiny proportion of what that “lucky” person TRIED to accomplish.

If by “luck”, you mean putting yourself out there — all the time — into situations where you are probably going to be rejected, fail, or make a fool of yourself, then yes… you are on the right track.

A lot of people ask me how I got to where I am in life. As if there is some secret formula or answer to getting lucky. Usually, I tell them, “The hard way.” I honestly don’t feel like it is supposed to be easy, I think the suck is all part of the journey and what makes it so beautiful.

To illustrate what I mean, here’s a list of just some of the things I have been rejected for over the last 10 years. See if you can find the inspiration behind the rejection or failure.

  • I was rejected the first time I entered a juried gallery show.
  • Launching my art career was a failure for 2 years.
  • I was rejected for at least 143 commission projects.
  • I was rejected from the first gallery I approached.
  • I failed at launching a YouTube channel for about 5 years in a row.
  • I was rejected the first time I applied for a juried art festival.
  • I failed at traveling the country, still have several states to go.
  • I was rejected the second time I entered a gallery show.
  • My first 4 websites were epic failures.
  • I’ve been rejected for large community art events.
  • I’ve had at least 19 large art proposals rejected.
  • I’ve been rejected from art conferences when pitching as a speaker, I would put the number close to 60.
  • I have been rejected by many award judges. I’ve won 5 out of 500.
  • I failed epically the first time I showed my art at my own event.
  • I have been rejected by at least 200 businesses that I have approached with my art.
  • I was rejected by a museum for a proposal for an art and music event.
  • I’ve had countless art that has been rejected.
  • I’ve had countless art failures, just about every day.
  • I was rejected when I tried to talk to people at a black-tie event (one dude even turned his nose up at me).
  • I’ve been rejected by art cliques who don’t like that I’m from out of town.
  • I was rejected when I applied for Twitter verified (I know how ridiculous this makes me sound).
  • I am rejected most days by commentators on YouTube who don’t like my BRILLIANT videos.
  • I have been rejected by art associations who think my work is sub-par.
  • I have been rejected by many collectors when I show new forms of work.
  • I have been rejected for several large mural proposals.
  • I have been rejected for large international commissions.
  • I have had my ideas rejected by people who are in charge of an art event.

Each one of these was a blow, and that’s not even the full list, we’d be here ALL day.

Being rejected or failing is shit. It’s hard not to take it personally, and to keep going when it feels like a consistent barrage of ‘nope’ and ‘EPIC FAILS’.

But the only way to do the awesome stuff is to put yourself out there. To put yourself in a place where you might get rejected, constantly. To be in a place where you might fail big.

Everything doesn’t always come up roses, and I am not told yes every time I want to do something. That is ridiculous. It is also ridiculous to quit just because you failed, or get your feelings hurt because you were rejected. That’s why I keep going — ALL the time. I apply for things, I try things, I put myself out there. I make a huge effort to go for almost everything that piques my interest and pushes at my comfort zones.

Rafi Perez Painting Seed

I’ve been at this for 10 years and can tell you that it takes time to get to a place where you will have people call you “lucky”. Years upon years of rejection and failures that don’t ever end. Sometimes it will feel overwhelming, and you’ll have to become your biggest cheerleader to get through. But that is how you get there, you just have to do it and quit stalling to avoid failure and rejection.

Success means that you failed and were rejected more than anyone else. Growth means that you will always be facing rejection and failure throughout your career. If you are not, then you are not growing.

I’m not going to tell you to learn to love rejection because it really sucks. I will say, however, if you aren’t getting rejected every now and again, then you’re not putting yourself out there and you are not being as awesome as you can be.

Only awesome people know the sting of rejection and embrace it.

Posted on 4 Comments

Could The Real Art World Please Stand Up?

Today Klee and I were talking about the art stock market on our podcast. That’s the name we coined for the big-ticket commodities art market that you see blasted all over the news and in documentaries. Considering the amount of press that gets focused on large art auctions and big-name galleries, it’s easy to think that you are not actually an artist until you’ve somehow made it there.

It got me thinking about the way that people perceive the art world in general. When you think about it, what people call the art market in the media, is only about 1% of the actual art market. There is no mention of the everyday people that make up the art market, the real art market, the real world.

The real art world is made up of one-on-one interactions, and I think we forget that sometimes in this media blasted quick paced world. It’s not about how much money the art sold for, or how wealthy the collector is, or how much prestige the sale brought the artist. Honestly, the corporate companies I worked for would print out prestige in the form of “You did real good.” certificates, and I would put them in cheap frames and hang them on my wall as a symbol of how important I was. I feel like we miss the point when we confuse success with awards and accolades. You can add them to your resume, but I feel like we’ve lost the point of what it is all about.

It’s about the friendships developed, and the relationships we establish as artists, with the people that connect with us through the art we create. It’s about the creative process and the astonishing ability to face rejection every day and share your art with the world. It is about the collector who proudly displays your artwork on their wall, or wears it on their body, or listens to it in their car. It is about that connection that would not have been possible if that individual artist did not break through the barriers of fear and share their creations with the world. It would not have been possible without the vast amount of humans out there who buy art because of the value it has to them, not because it has market value.

As an artist who had to make his own way, I have trained myself to see the world quite differently than I used to. Where I once had hopelessness in an impossible art career system, I now see the opportunities, the misdirections to be avoided, and the hope for everyone to pursue their creative spirit.

I think it is easy to forget in this world that is so focused on money and success, that we artists create because of the love of creation. We create to express ourselves and bring back a childlike sense of imagination, wonder, and feeling into our world. Creations that can remind us all to pause and appreciate.

Just food for thought.

I also wanted to announce that my book is fully funded! Thank you all so much! The Rogue Artist’s Survival Guide is becoming a reality. I am going quiet for a couple of weeks on social media and YouTube as I finish up the book and do some final edits. You can still pre-order the book at https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-rogue-artist-s-survival-guide-by-rafi-perez

Posted on Leave a comment

Stop Making Excuses: 10 Excuses I Made And Why

Back in the day, making excuses was like breathing air for me. I had some great ones, in fact they were so good that I didn’t realize I was even making excuses.

With that in mind, let’s break down 10 of the many excuses that I used to make, and tell me if they sound familiar.

Excuse #1: There’s just not enough time…

I still use this one every once in a while. What I found is that when I make this excuse I’m just not feeling enthusiastic. Usually, at the core of this excuse is the fear that I’m not good enough to do the thing that I’m claiming I don’t have the time to do. The moment I feel overwhelmed by lack of time, I can talk myself out of anything. Sometimes it may be something that I genuinely don’t want to do, and in that situation I would rather cancel the project than keep it rattling around in my brain jar. But when it is something you really want to do, but your claim to non-fame is that you don’t have enough time, ever… then I would think twice about that excuse.

In fact, if I look at my behavior in moments of overwhelm, I actually become less productive, which causes there to be less time, and even more overwhelm.

Excuse #2: There’s just not enough money…

I find that no matter how much money I have in the bank, whether it is thousands, or negative somethings these words will blurt out of my mouth. To be honest, I have a weird relationship with money that I have been working on throughout the last few years. I think it is important that we look at our relationship with money because it is either one of two things: a good relationship or a bad one. In other words, if you feel like a victim to green pieces of paper then it’s a bad one. Most of my baggage when it comes to money is partly from poor money mentality in my household when I was growing up, but like most relationships, it is something you can improve once you look a little deeper into yourself.

Excuse #3: I don’t have an education…

This was my number one excuse when it came to pursuing art as a career… well, it was one of many number one excuses. There are numerous multi-millionaires and billionaires who have nothing more than a high school education. Some don’t even have that. Yet, I spent a lot of time in my life wasting my precious brain power believing this gibberish. I’m not knocking education, there’s value in it. If you want to pursue an education, pursue it. If you want to be an excellent brain surgeon, definitely go to school. If you want to sharpen your creative skills by taking classes, by all means… but don’t let an education, or lack thereof, define what you can accomplish with your talents.

Excuse #4: I’m just too old or too young…

I’m old enough to have used both of these excuses… blah blah blah. Right now, it’s the too old excuse. I’m too old to be in a band, I’m too old to do YouTube, I’m to old to make a significant impact in the new generation of humans… blah blah blah. While you may not see me on American Idol anytime soon (they have a no geezer age limit of 28 which I find outdated and discriminatory, but whatevs…) I am most certainly young enough to excel at whatever I gosh darned please, as long as I’m breathing.

Bonus Excuse: I don’t know how…

This is an excuse I rarely use because I am very dogged at figuring stuff out. I am a stubborn figurer-outer. This means I make mistake after mistake after mistake, until I get it. I simply don’t like not knowing how to do something, or being afraid to try. This has, so far, worked out in my favor.

Excuse #6: I just can’t change…

This used to be true for me, I was pretty set in my ways and the words “That’s just who I am!” would spout out of my mouth as an excuse to justify some stupid thing I did. It wasn’t until I started thinking long term, determining whether that’s how I wanted to be and live in ten, twenty years, that I realized perhaps being willing to evolve is to my benefit. When you think about the cycle of stubborn habits repeating time and time again over the course of twenty years, you get a fire under your but to start that change immediately.

Excuse #7: I’m afraid to fail…

I think we get taught this stupid thing in school… “Do everything you can to succeed, failure is the mark of laziness or lack of skill.” I’m sure that might seem like sound logic to those who have never tried to do something that hasn’t been done before. But, if you want to blaze your own trail, you are going to have to fail several times in order to reach anything resembling success. I think we should embrace failure, learn from it, and plan ahead so we know how to use the failure to do it better the next time.

Excuse #8: It’s just not the right time…

Yeah, if these little words pop out of your mouth then you should just swat them down mid-air like a fly, before they reach anyone’s ear holes. I knew a wonderful woman who was in her 90’s that fused the following words into my brain “If not now, when?” and I get it, sometimes it’s just not the right time to take action. However, more often than not this is just a lame excuse.

Excuse #9: I am not ready…

Sometimes you will hear this come from someone who is standing at the edge of a pool, about to jump in and they say “I’m not ready!” when actually they are merely paralyzed by fear. There they are, standing there in their swim suit, the water is good… how much more ready can you get? There’s nothing wrong with planning for the future or taking the time to lay out a clear plan of action. However, if planning is all you do, this could indicate that there might be fears preventing you from moving forward. Understand this and you will overcome your need for over-planning… in due time.

Cracks-In-Reality

Excuse #10: I’m just not inspired…

This is a big one, yet I find that most of the time when these words come out of my mouth it has more to do with laziness than inspiration. I know that’s harsh, but it’s true. Sometimes I’m not inspired because I’m too busy feeling sorry for myself and clogging up my brain circuits with all of the above excuses. Whatever the cause, when this excuse crops up I know it’s time to take a leaf blower to whatever doom cloud is lurking overhead, and start fresh.

Sometimes we get so absorbed in making excuses about how things didn’t turn out the way we had expected, that we forget to focus on making the best of every situation — no matter what the outcome.

So go out and make excuses for how awesome you are. Make excuses for how you have more than enough time, and how it is the right time for you, and how failure is no big deal. You can say and do anything you want, just pay closer attention to the words that come out of the hole in the front of your face.

Posted on 1 Comment

Time To Smell The Weeds

Ever felt that there must be more to life? Well, good news, there is! And it’s right here in front of us. We just need to stop and take notice.

As an artist, I have taken a notice of color and contrast in the world. There are times where a vivid sky or blade of grass will stop me in my tracks, I will take in the color combinations and imagine using them to translate into the emotion I’m feeling at that very moment.

I remember at a very difficult time in my life, where everything just seemed wrong and I found myself downward spiraling into despair, that hope came from a simple place. I was on my way to work, and I felt like breaking down. I pulled over and despite running late, decided to sit down at a park bench.

There I saw people walking their dogs, playing with kids, and relaxing. This was a stark contrast to my mood, and actually caused me to feel more bitter. Suddenly, a sad little weed caught my eye, it was the way the sun was casting a shadow that almost made it seem to glow. It was this ugly, little, insignificant weed, and it was glowing brighter and more vivid than anything else in that park. Suddenly, I couldn’t hold back the tears.

I sat there, me and my new glowing friend, for quite some time. I turned off my phone, and just sat there, and took everything in… This time, without judging what I was looking at through a filter of misery.

For the first time in probably my whole life, I just sat there and took everything in. I wasn’t thinking or worried about the future and I wasn’t dwelling in the past… I was just there, in that moment.

That moment changed me forever.

Magic Seasons Trees Textured Original Painting by artist Rafi Perez on Canvas

Learning to be more mindful and aware can do wonders for our well-being in all areas of life. It helps us get in tune with our feelings and stops us dwelling on the past or worrying about the future, so we get more out of the day-to-day.

When do you stop and take notice?

Posted on Leave a comment

Get Annoyed Or Laugh More

As artists, we can sometimes be stereotyped as serious and tortured. Which is hilarious to me because, in my experience, nothing could be further from the truth. That being said, it’s easy to get in the habit of being in the semi funk seriousness of being an adult artist.

Sometimes you have to stop what you are doing and ask yourself- When was the last time you burst into a gut hurting laugh? I have a friend who laughs so much and so loud that she leaves a memorable experience for anyone within earshot. I think that is amazing, her laughter leaves a positive impact on people and probably annoys all the curmudgeons within a ten mile radius.

The Happy Art Tour THAT

Sure, it’s fun to share a good laugh. But did you know it can actually improve your health? It’s true: laughter is strong medicine. It draws people together in ways that trigger healthy physical and emotional changes in the body.

Laughter strengthens your immune system, boosts mood, diminishes pain, and protects you from the damaging effects of stress.

As children, we used to laugh hundreds of times a day, but as adults, life tends to be more serious and laughter more infrequent. As an artist, I tend to hold on to that childlike instinct to use my imagination, but sometimes I hold back from just letting out a good belly roll.

There are ways to get your laughter back, if you have temporarily lost it.

Find things to laugh at daily, whether it be putting on your favorite comedy while eating dinner, reading funny comments, or just playing music and dancing goofy dances. You might even consider laughing for the sake of laughing, as a change in your body affects your brain chemistry, which ultimately affects your mood.

Laugh and you will find yourself actually feeling better, even if you have been a sourbutt for the last few hours. This is why it’s important to surround yourself with positive, upbeat people.

Our photo shoots are very serious

By the way, if laughing annoys you, that’s when you know, you need to laugh more.

Posted on Leave a comment

Guiding Star And Butterfly Warrior

We have been busy in the studio and have some awesome pieces that we want to share with you. Enjoy!


Rustic Sterling Silver Compass Necklace

Rustic Sterling Silver Compass Necklace

This piece for me is all about keeping a “guiding star” talisman close to heart. Something that reminds us of our true north. Whether that’s a person, place, belief, goal, or anything that keeps us growing and moving forward on our individual journeys, it’s meant to be a small reminder of that. I personally like to wear jewelry that helps me stay focused on what’s important to me and what’s true for me.

I wanted it to have a very rustic old world feeling about it, as though it’s a piece of bullion or an ancient compass artifact. I felt it was important to acknowledge the human history of journey and self discovery, and I also wanted it, for the wearer, to feel as though it was always there with them and always would be there, as a steady and steadfast companion. -Klee

Butterfly Warrior Original Painting Art By Artist Rafi Perez Mixed Medium on Canvas 18X24

Butterfly Warrior

This piece symbolizes the two sides of empowerment. The fierce and tender nature of someone who takes fate and destiny into their own hands. The butterfly symbolizes cause and effect. The sword symbolizes the knowledge that she can overcome any obstacle that is in her way.

In my mind it is important to maintain that balance. To know that you are truly powerful, you understand that it is all about giving. One who has true power, will always defend and show love. Powerlessness and insecurity is where displays of power come in. -Rafi

Posted on 2 Comments

Always Keep Your Eyes Open

Rafi And Klee Studios

It can be easy to rush through life without stopping to notice much. I knew a guy who had a bed of flowers in front of his house and when I asked him about them he asked “What flowers?”

Paying more attention to the present moment – to your own thoughts and feelings, and to the world around you – can improve your sense of well being and happiness.

Some people call this awareness “mindfulness”. I like to call it “Open your eyes, yo!”

You may think about happiness in terms of what you have: your income, home or car, or your job. Research shows that what we do and the way we think have the biggest impact on our happiness and well being.

Becoming more aware of the present moment means noticing the sights, smells, sounds and tastes that you experience, as well as the thoughts and feelings that occur from one moment to the next.

Just think about it.

Posted on 1 Comment

5 Things I Remind Myself Of Every Day

Believing in yourself can be tough, but I can honestly say that it is my self belief that helps me really make the most out of this precious life that I am experiencing right now.

There are 5 things I remind myself of daily in order to really get the most out of life.

Do as much as you can to experience new experiences.

#1 Time is short

It might sound a little morbid, but the idea that our lives could end at any moment causes me to both evaluate the relationships that I am in, and really appreciate the people I love. It also reminds me that life is too short to spend any time worrying about something and not simply doing something about it.

I’m willing to talk to anyone, even if it scares me.

#2 Be fearless in taking the next step and enjoying life

Taking the right risk is one of the most important aspects of being happy in life. Always take the first step with optimism and a gusto for life. I knew a beautiful woman who was 88 years old, and one day I saw her riding on the back of a motorcycle. It was her first ride ever, she was smiling from ear to ear and said “If not now, when?” that’s been my motto ever since. As an artist, my entire career is one emotional and financial risk, and if I wasn’t willing to face those fears, I wouldn’t be enjoying what I’m doing now. Listen, if it doesn’t work out at first, you are always free to try it again.

Time is going to pass anyway, so I might as well work a little every day towards what I want.

#3 Time is going to pass by anyhow

Sometimes it seems like certain things I want to do are going to take such a long time to accomplish. In the past, I would quit before I even started because it was disheartening. I realized later that time is going to pass anyway, so you might as well chip at that wall.

#4 Don’t allow yourself to settle

I remember a while back looking at my life and thinking “That’s it? That’s all there is to my life?” I was miserable. What I didn’t realize at the time, was that I had a mentality that was putting me in a miserable place. I settled for things that were satisfactory, but not satisfying. My relationships, my job, my car, my friends, and my self esteem was satisfactory… Life didn’t become satisfying until I decided reevaluate my priorities.

Every day has the potential to be awesome or not, you decide.

#5 Take every day as a new chance

Today is a day for you to begin creating your unique and fulfilling life. Today is the day to begin to release all your limitations. Today is the day for you to learn the secrets of your life. Today you realize you already have the tools within you to do so… and if today was just eh, move on from it, because you get 365 days a year to practice being awesome.

Posted on Leave a comment

Feeling Powerful In Three Steps

I created the “EMPOWERMENT” series based on self empowerment, as a tool to be used as a daily reminder. This is my social commentary on the way that people talk to themselves or the way they see themselves. I believe we all have the ability to feel confident and strong, but for the most part we have made it a habit to talk to ourselves in a way that makes us feel powerless.

Believe By Rafi Perez

In reality, personal empowerment is not something we feel, it’s something we do. Our sense of empowerment is a reflection of the increased personal value and self-worth that comes out of our experience of having real influence in our lives.

Empowering ourselves and creating change, which ultimately leads to the increased sense of personal value and self-worth we call the “feeling” of empowerment, involves some very specific steps.

Bonafide By Rafi Perez
  1. Stop comparing yourself to others. Start improving yourself

People tend to compare themselves to others because at times it will make them feel better about their lives or something they are trying to do. For example I know a lot of artists that feel better about their ability to create art because they compare their art to stuff they consider inferior. This is a double edged blade, because they will also compare their work to other work that they consider vastly superior. When they do this it leads to a devastating realization that their work isn’t that great. The truth is, nothing is better or worse than anything else, it’s just our perspective which can change.

Life By Rafi Perez

When you resist comparing yourself, you will be less engaged in judgement, and self-judgement, YOU WILL focus instead on your work – this alone will be empowering.

Belief By Rafi Perez
  • Take responsibility.

Taking responsibility means simply to be responsible for the way you respond to a situation. Most importantly, no matter how much you want to blame someone else for the way you feel, it’s important to remember that no matter what anyone does, you are ultimately responsible for how you respond to the given situation.

There are many small opportunities throughout the day to take responsibility for your emotions, play around with the concept. This will put the power back in your hands and no longer let your emotions fluctuate depending on the people around you.

Create By Rafi Perez
  • Do Something. Take Action!

One of the best things you can do to feel empowered is take action. Think about all those things you wish you did or that you want to do, but maybe you feel lazy or unmotivated. Whenever you don’t take action on it, it can have a devastating effect on your self esteem. Make it a habit to just take action and stop thinking about doing it.

Golden Glow By Rafi Perez

Taking action means remembering to have fun, at least that’s what it means to me. Have fun!

There are lots of ways to empower yourself and create positive change in your life. These are just a few things I try to keep in mind daily, or remind myself if ever I’m feeling less than empowered. Above all, remember that you are a beautiful luminous being, and go out and rock this life thing!

Posted on Leave a comment

The Art of Imperfect Art – Talk By Rafi Perez

I’ll be doing a demo and talk about the beauty of imperfection at the Santa Rosa Art Association on February 23 at 9am.

I will share some of my experimental techniques, insights, advice, philosophy and inspiration while assisting in pushing outside of comfort zones by allowing the participants to get comfortable with making mistakes and seeing what comes out the other side. Embracing imperfection, and viewing it as perfection is my ultimate message.

Members and guests are invited to bring whatever art project they are currently working on and I will assist with the time remaining.

Urban Swinery Art By Rafi Perez

One of the subjects I’ll talk about is Wabi-sabi to describe the perfection of imperfection. According to Japanese legend, a young man named Sen No Rikyu sought to learn the elaborate set of customs known as the Way of Tea. He went to a tea-master who tested the younger man by asking him to tend the garden.

Rikyu cleaned up debris and raked the ground until it was perfect, then scrutinized the immaculate garden. Before presenting his work to the master, he shook a cherry tree, causing a few flowers to spill randomly onto the ground.

Abstract Gold By Rafi Perez

Wabi-sabi understands the tender, raw beauty of a gray December landscape and the elegance of an abandoned building or shed. It celebrates cracks and crevices and all the other marks that time and weather leave behind. It is to see the singular beauty in something that may first look decrepit, ugly, or unfinished.

Ultimately, wabi-sabi opens space for love. Love for others, and no less for ourselves. Love for our virtues and our scars, our strengths and our vulnerabilities.

It is this love that can lead to a deeper satisfaction with life. A deeper satisfaction with our art and creativity. To allow for the happy little accidents that can enhance the feeling of an original work.

After all, in a lifetime of fleeting moments, one after another, what bigger gift than to stare in the eyes of beauty – whatever form it may take – and to revel in its reflection of love.

The Santa Rosa Art Association meets at Pensacola State College, Milton Campus, in Building 4800 at 9 am.