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It Is Ok To Not Be Ok

Recently I read an article from the Washington Post that was talking about toxic positivity. My first reaction was “Great, what bullshit is the media going to try and feed us now?”

As much as I hate admitting it, Klee and I are public personalities. That doesn’t mean we are famous, it just means there are some people out there who are interested in what we say and do. We post a lot of videos talking about changing your perspective and paying attention to your mindset when you are approaching something as strange and alien as becoming an artist.

We tend to look at the bright side of things, which is probably why I became so defensive upon hearing about the article. There are plenty of people (the media included) spreading so much toxic information, conspiracy theories, and us versus them bullshit, that I thought this article was just a bunch of the same jargon.

Luckily, in my opinion they were not trying to feed me any poop, albeit more dramatic and alarmist than it needed to be on the subject, but that’s just “news” now. The article actually covered something that I have been thinking a lot about lately.

The “good vibes only” trend or as I called it in a video “forced positivity”.

Practicing a positive mind-set is a powerful way to approach the world, but I’ve seen people put a positive spin on something simply because they are avoiding the need to deal with the negative emotions they feel.

Natalie Dattilo, a clinical health psychologist with Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston say “It results from our tendency to undervalue negative emotional experiences and overvalue positive ones.”

I don’t know if I agree with her, I think we may overvalue positive experiences simply because we are using it as a coping mechanism to avoid the bad ones. In my experience, if you avoid something that might be eating at you instead of facing it head-on, it doesn’t go away. It doesn’t mean you need to dwell there and succumb to the negative emotions, but unless you face the things that are bothering you, eventually they will surface again and again. Of course, I am not a clinical health psychologist with Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

Expressions By Rafi Perez

Forced positivity is like covering up a pile of vomit in your hallway with sheet of paper that has a happy face drawn on it. The vomit is still there and you can try to ignore it, but it still stinks. Eventually, it just soaks through the paper and comes to the surface. The only way to really deal with the vomit is to get down and dirty with it and clean it up. Yes, it is not easy and it can be quite repulsive, but ignoring it won’t make it actually go away.

People who are genuinely upbeat, usually deal with things as they come and don’t bury anything down under a layer of “everything is fine.” When they are not doing so great, they let you know. They may not linger there for a lifetime and will usually take some kind of ownership for how they feel. I think there is a huge yet subtle difference between having a sense of empowerment and being positive.

I know amazing people that are very positive but the moment you broach on a subject that may touch on a nerve that is uncomfortable for them, they deflect and might even get angry. It’s definitely easy to just throw a happy face sticker on and pretend like you don’t have any negative feelings about anything. The only problem with it, is that it’s not sustainable, in the long-run it is exhausting and will wear you down.

Oren art By Rafi Perez

It is way harder to go deep and admit to yourself that you are not in a good place, and that you have some things that might be really ugly inside that need to be looked at. You may need to admit that you need help, or that you are simply not ok.

It is a big problem when people feel forced to seem or be positive in situations that suck, or things legitimately need to be addressed. In the “good vibes only” culture, some people feel ashamed of their negative feelings, so they hide them. There are people out there that are worried about addressing negative stuff that might be going on inside of them for fear that it will solidify it in their existence. The problem with this is that it can’t be addressed if people don’t deal with the fact that there is distress or need in the first place.

The fact of the matter is that shit kinda sucks right now. Denying, minimizing, or invalidating those feelings because of external pressure or your own thoughts can be counterproductive and harmful. If we throw on a sticker and feel like crap under it all, we then judge ourselves for feeling pain, sadness, fear, which then produces feelings of shame, not-enoughness, and guilt

People who tend to not judge themselves based on their feelings, and not think of their emotions as good or bad have an easier time handling their negative emotions. They do not try to avoid or put distance between themselves and their emotions. They face their emotions and understand that there is nothing to be ashamed of if you are just feeling low.

Graffiti Bridge Rafi Perez Child Abuse Awareness

Desperately wanting to feel happy in a crappy situation and not facing the situation can leave people experiencing an emotion about an emotion. Which is usually disappointment because you aren’t as happy as you want to be.

One thing I try to remind myself of every day, especially when I am putting myself out there in the public arena, is that I like looking at the bright side of things, but I also enjoy facing the darkness. There’s nothing wrong with trying to make the best of a crappy situation, I do it all the time. Being positive doesn’t mean you smile as your eye twitches uncontrollably because you are putting your negative feelings on mute. To me, it means making the best of the suckage that is going on. Making the best of it is accepting the situation as it is and doing the best you can with it, and not avoidance of the fact that we’re in a really bad situation.

Just my thoughts on the subject.

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Art Marketing Experts Are Full Of Shit

Klee and I get asked a lot of questions by artists from all around the world. Just about every day we get a question in our inbox about the personal struggles that some of these amazing creatives are having. Most times we have some kind of insight or experience on the subject, sometimes we don’t.

Listen, no one is an expert at how to deal with your situation, the best any of us can do is give our two cents. We are all just figuring out our own way to make this thing happen. Recently, someone contacted me about marketing their art and having a website. They had signed up for a mentorship program for artists that cost about $2000. Part of me was like “I’m an idiot for talking about this stuff online for free, and the other part of me was like “What could they possibly be giving for that much?”

As it turns out, it’s the same cookie cutter bullshit marketing program that people have been promoting to artists all over the place. Facebook ads, niche marketing, find your audience, targeted marketing, blah blah blah.

An artist contacted me saying:

I am an artist and someone referred you to me. They said that you encourage artists to create their own way and screw what others might say. I just fired —— as an art mentor because he wants me to only market my wall art and nothing else. I can’t do that. I am having good success with selling my art and crafts. I just want to get more into marketing online because so many of my venues got canceled this year because of COVID19.

Artist

I responded with:

Hi ——-,

A lot of those programs have to do with the way a lot of people market products online, which works if you have a niche that you fall into. That way you can do targeted marketing. I think —- does great as a marketing guy and a writer because you can really target your market with books, especially if you are targeting marketing books to artists who want to learn marketing.

I have an issue with this type of marketing because it niches you, which I seriously doubt an artist can be niched for very long. Yet if you are putting yourself out there consistently as a creative you form a following of people who are interested in you and what YOU create. This takes a lot longer, but slowly you create a loyal following. It took me ten years to get where I am, and honestly, I’m not a big deal at all. 


The trick is thinking long term and understanding that it will take time.


I don’t really have a mentorship program because I make my money from my art, the videos I share are simply because I wanted to give my perspective and share things I wish someone would have shared with me.


To be honest with you, I’m just figuring it out as I go and sharing whatever I learn. I have a community of people on Patreon that support the video side and support one another. 


Please feel free to contact me when you have any specific questions and if I can I will most definitely answer in a video. 

Rafi

She wrote back and this made me a little pissed.

Rafi:
Thank you so much for answering me back!  I like the idea of watching your videos.  That would work just fine.  It is very generous of you to be willing to help other artists without charging money.  Thanks!


—- wanted to put me into a very small niche that I didn’t feel I fit into.  That may have been ok for me 30 years ago, but I’ve grown as a person and as an artist.  I need more than that now.  I read his book and it was helpful,  but working with him in person is a big NO.  He has this attitude that if I don’t do what he wants me to do that I will fail.  Then he gets rude and instead of listening to me, he just says, “Suck it up!”  Not cool at all.  I like people with confidence, but I get the sense that he has TOO much confidence and maybe a bit egotistical.  

Should I run more than one website if I want to do more than one thing as he suggests?

Artist

Honestly, it doesn’t sound like confidence to me. Truly confident people don’t behave that way, but arrogant people are usually riddled with insecurity underneath a layer of false confidence.

I can’t tell you if it is wrong or right, but I can tell you what I do… again, I don’t officially know what I am doing, but I like making things simple for myself. It would be a pain in the butt to run more than one website. On top of that, I don’t care about marketing a niche. I would much rather have a following that identifies me as a creative. It’s true that if your site is concise, it is easier for people to navigate because they are trained by most websites to just focus on one thing. Most people identify things they experience in the world by labeling someone or something a specific title, for example, “She does nature art.” So a lot of marketing people go in this direction because it is easier to market.

But most people know that if you go to Etsy or Amazon you are going to look for what you want, and most times you look through the various products to find what calls to you.

My website is a behemoth. It has Klee’s jewelry, my art, T-Shirts, Our Music, Stickers, Posters, Made to order artist prints, Short motivational MP3’s for artists, A section for our Patreon following and who knows what else.

We love our website, it is so much more than just a selling platform, it is a maze that contains our story and communicates what we’ve done, who we are, and what we believe in. Some people get lost, but most navigate it just fine.

I’ll be honest, for years I tried to make things as simple as possible on my site, and as it turns out you’ll never be able to make it simple enough for some… and most people know how to navigate a website and don’t get confused if you have more than one item type.

I could follow the status quo of marketing 101 if I wanted to. Honestly, it is super easy to get fast results if you just focus on one thing and that is ALL you are focused on, which is why these marketing courses usually go this route in order to prove themselves to the artist. They get fast but temporary results that are not sustainable for the artist. Artists are dynamic, but promoting yourself as a multifaceted artist takes time; it is for the long road.

I think as artists, it’s all about taking our awesome imagination and just going for it. Getting our work out there and thinking about ways to get it in front of new people and people who already follow you. There isn’t an art collector store, there are just people. You have to give people the opportunity to find you… have fun with it and quit thinking that these idiots that call themselves “marketing experts” because they are good at marketing a “marketing course” to people who desperately think they don’t know anything about marketing are right about anything… they’re just as confused as you are about selling art. That’s why they try to force everyone to fit the niche marketing route.

I, on the other hand, am not a good marketing person. I would rather be called an artist than simply identified as a niche artist. This statement makes a lot of artists who follow the marketing doctrine of “focus on one thing” very upset with me. But art is NOT a product and artists are NOT just salespeople selling a product.

I think artists that are truly successful pave their own way and don’t allow some jerk to pretend that they are better than them at marketing (because they are marketing to artists who are desperately seeking a way to market their art which is an easy target market).

Pave your own way, do your own thing, not the shit that EVERYONE is already doing.

For example, one of our awesome Rogue Artist Family On Patreon is doing a facebook live and showing her art! So Awesome! If you want to join us in supporting her putting herself out there during a pandemic go to:

The live streams are on FB in the Tish Johannon Creations FB group @ Join the group to be able to join in https://www.facebook.com/groups/tishjohannoncreations
7/30 @7:00 EST is for her paintings – 8/6 @7:00 EST is for all her crochet work

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YOU BRING THE LIGHT

I wrote this to my amazing rogue artist family on Patreon today and wanted to share it with all of you.

We are still waiting on test results for COVID and I am convinced we do not have it, but there is no way to be sure until we get the results.

It is interesting to me, finding myself at this moment where I feel so run down, and not well, with this lingering thought in the air of “Do I have it?”

We don’t feel well, yet we’re not exhibiting many of the severe symptoms, which is great. The symptoms we do have are not constant such as chills and headaches… Although fatigue and body aches seem to go from extreme to not so extreme.

I made the mistake of reading some news about the situation out there in outside land and a sense of sadness took over.

Humans are such beautiful creatures who can accomplish extraordinary things when they stand together in that beauty… Yet everyone seems so divided right now…

I am holding back the tears in my eyes as I write this…

Maybe I’m feeling the effects of the fatigue and right now is NOT the time to be reading any world news. Especially because I have not been creating an outlet for myself of my art.

I always feel that by creating beauty, empowering people, and expressing how beautiful and amazing we all are – it’s my way of adding light into a world that seems to have a shadow looming… If everyone understood how absolutely amazing they were, they wouldn’t power struggle to be better than someone else… No one is better, we are all beautiful and uniquely perfect at being who we are, which is an ever-changing, ever-evolving thing that grows and blooms as we experience this crazy thing called life.

I don’t know… Part of my brain says “You are so full of crap Rafi, nothing you do is meaningful, nothing you do has an effect on anything.” Luckily, I don’t buy into that voice.

Sure, everyone may not find it meaningful, but I feel that everything we do impacts the world. Just existing and breathing has an impact on the world around you.

It’s like walking into a room where someone has been stewing in anger and you can FEEL the tension in the room… We can FEEL others joy, sadness, hopefulness, anger, fear… and it is contagious.

Right now I feel sadness, but less so than I felt before I started writing this. I may not be creating art right now, but I am creating this… expressing my empowerment and ability to understand that even the smallest flicker of light can shine bright in the darkness.

We all can shine bright in the darkness with the smallest flicker of hope and love. We can cultivate that flicker into a flame and eventually a burst of light as powerful as the sun… and it all resides within us… Imagine knowing that everyone can somehow feel that, and that light is contagious.

Love… Hope… Feeling empowered… Feeling beautiful… And knowing that we are all a force of nature.

Yeah… I definitely need to get back to painting and creating soon 🙂

I Adore You All-Rafi

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Your Own Voice Doesn’t Hate You Or Others

There have been a lot of mornings recently where I have woken up with that voice in my head telling me that I am a loser. It calls me fat, old, and untalented. I tells me that I’m boring and pretty soon everyone that likes me is going to know the truth of how much of a loser I am. That voice doesn’t put it in eloquent sentences, it’s usually very mean and to the point.

The thing is, nobody’s voice hates them in the beginning. As an artist, I spend a lot of time with this voice. I spend a lot of time in solitary creation where I am wrapped up in my mind. Most times I argue with the stick-man (that’s what Klee and I call the negative self-talk voice) the same way I would argue with someone standing over my shoulder talking shit.

The stick man loves to sometimes just stand in the corner of my mind while I go about my day, screaming “FAT FAT FAT OLD OLD FAT FAT HAIRY HAIRY UGLY UGLY BALD FAT FAT UGLY BALD FAT OLD OLD OLD FAT!” Like I said, he’s not eloquent.

Argue with that voice, or just tell it to go fly a kite. No one is born with a negative voice in their head. In fact, as very young children, we rarely criticize ourselves or anyone else. We don’t know the differences associated with age, race, weight, economic background, schooling, gender, or anything else that we humans use to define something. We don’t have self-judgment or self-criticism yet, because we haven’t learned where we or others fit in the world… people are just people.

So where did it come from?

That shit was implanted in your brain jar. As little snot nosed beings, we are like sponges absorbing everything in the world. In the very beginning, most of our world consists of our parents. We pick up A LOT of our identity and insecurities there. Sometimes, unfortunately, the insecurities are blatant in some kind of form of abuse, other times it is much more subtle. Just being in a room with someone who has anxiety can make you feel anxious. If you think the unspoken emotions, fears, and insecurities that someone is carrying around don’t have a deep effect on their environment and the little sponges within said environment, then you are mistaken.

Whether the insecurities of others is directed at you or not doesn’t matter, what matters is understanding that most of your insecurities were passed down to you. Those insecurities were passed down to them, it’s like a cycle of bullshit or an “ouroboros of bullshit” as Klee calls it, and there is a lot of it.

Then add the crap ideals that are abundant in society to separate us into some kind of group. You are told to believe that this is good, that is bad, that is wrong, that is stupid, you can’t trust THOSE kinds of people, successful people don’t sleep in, republican bad, democrat bad, liberal bad, this team, that team, real art is this or that, you need to do this or that in order to not be this or that, you have to choose a side, beauty is this, beauty is not that, this is real, this is fake… it’s a whole bunch of bullshit that got passed down the generations that we all buy into because the system was already there when we started our lives.

A lot of these contradictory beliefs in the world really do a number on how we feel about ourselves. We adopt the habits because we think it is normal… unfortunately “normal” is overrated. Everyone has a different “normal” which begs the question, isn’t it just easier to be our own kind of human and not worry so much about being normal?

I believe that if we ALL accepted and loved ourselves truly without the insecurities, judgement, and criticisms, we would also and only have that for all the other amazing humans in the world. We would just love humans for being human… instead of categorizing people or ourselves into groups.

It can be considered normal to feel like a victim, less than, unworthy, like a failure, or just not good enough. What does that say about normal? Especially when you realize that saying nice things about yourself in public is not really considered a polite thing to do… you are called a “braggart” or “full of yourself”. How is it socially acceptable that normal is not admiring the unique and creative bad ass that you are?

And I mean genuine admiration, not the fake shit that some people try to flaunt as good self esteem. If you say that you are better than this person or group, then you are full of shit. I don’t care what excuse you use, whether it is “I have more money, I’m smarter, I am this or that”, or whatever… If you need to put someone, something, or some group down to lift yourself up and feel better about you… then it’s fake and a destructive habit that you learned in life.

Focus on your relationship with you, because that is where your power is. Not in what some other human is doing or where you fall in line in the system.

The system is normal, but we were not born normal. We were born extraordinary and meant to shine our unique creative light into the world. We are all so much bigger than our insecurities, our doubts, our fears, or our labels in society… we are so much more… ALL of us.

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Fachunking And Inside Farts

This morning I woke up excited about getting into my newly remodeled studio. Yesterday, I had planned to design some t-shirts and instead found myself hammering and cutting wood all day. The result of all that sweaty manly labor is a roomier studio that I can’t wait to get messy with paint.

Today however, I have t-shirt designs to knock out. This involves a little sketching here and there, but mostly involves sitting on the couch with a laptop on my lap… whoa! Is that why they are called laptops??? Who knew?

The start of my day was interesting. Earlier this morning I brewed some coffee and set up my recording equipment. I have been recording a couple of chapters every day since I accidentally deleted 100 pages from the audiobook. By the way, if you are recording an audiobook, might I suggest NOT deleting 100 pages worth of recorded audio like a noob… or a champ (I’m working on being kind to myself about my epically stupid mistake… it’s a work in progress).

Usually, my morning ritual of audiobook recording is an epic race to beat the Blue Angels practice run before I finish said chapters. This morning I had a slightly different struggle. I was experiencing some annoyingly loud borborygmus.

What is borborygmus you ask?

Klee and I call it “inside farts” or a rumbling or gurgling noise made by the movement of fluid and gas in the intestines. Honestly, I’m usually not that aware of it unless it is especially rambunctious… which it was.

It seemed like every time I tried to record a sentence, my intestines chimed in… So I recorded one chapter today and decided to move on to the next project.

Since I had put off designing t-shirts and listing them in lieu of studio remodeling, I decided it was time for some designing. I’ve been putting off updating the t-shirt page on the website which said “Coming soon August of 2019” for no other reason than having to update the website… which is tedious.

So today, we played some music and created some art. Mine in the form of t-shirts, and Klee created furry Agoggles. It’s been a good day.

We’ve been fachunking our way through all the little projects which has helped us immensely with our emotions. With things being the way they are, staying creative or productive can be challenging… or showering for that matter… Little things like the dishes are not going to clean themselves, so I fachunk the dishes. I just say fachunk it “Can I get a hell yeah for the dishes? Hell! Yeah!” and I fachunking love it… kinda… well more than borborygmus.

Not sure what Fachunking is? Watch this video where we explain it:

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Forget The New Year’s Resolutions

January is here and it is the beginning of 2020. This is the time of year where fad diets and hard to keep promises become a way of eventually disappointing yourself. We start to think of New Year’s resolutions and how this year is going to be different. Instead of buying a thighmaster and adding more stress to your life by adding 10 impossible goals that you don’t really want, start off with small things you can do right now. These ten lifestyle changes may be small, but they have changed my life.

Rafi Perez Painting Explorer

Create A New Tradition Of Gratitude. Create a spot in your home where you can sit every morning and spend 5 minutes in appreciation for yourself and whatever you love in life. Make it your gratitude retreat nook. This morning ritual will cause your brain to be on the lookout for the beauty of nature, friendship, love, laughter and anything else in life that you enjoy. Many of us are not used to taking any amount of time during the day to feel good on purpose… Just five minutes a day will change your world.

Free Yourself Of Clutter. Papers, old mail, instruction manuals, and receipts can clutter all the catch-all spots around your house. Take just 10 minutes a day to work on straightening up your paperwork, and throw away things that you don’t need. You’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish and how clutter-free your mind will become. Our physical space is the perfect reflection of what is happening in our mind; if your space is cluttered in any way, your head will be cluttered as well. 

3 Little Birds Art By Rafi

At Least One I Love You A Week. Tell one person each week that you love them. It’s easy to forget to tell people that we care about them. When we forget to express love we can get preoccupied with other things and that will become our habit. Reignite the habit of love. 

Get A Plant. Not only will it bring you better air quality, but nurturing a plant will do things for you emotionally that are phenomenal. Oh yeah, make sure you talk to your plant often. They love that.

Smile. Make it a point to smile and enjoy this year by enjoying each day fully. Right now you are reading this. As you read this, what do your surroundings sound like? Look up, what do you see? How does the air feel on your skin? What is the taste in your mouth? Is there a subtle static in the air? Does it feel thick, or light and airy?

That’s called stopping, now smell the roses, by giving this moment a big smile. If you have a hard time smiling, just remember that we think you are awesome.

-Rafi

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Just Do That Thing, But Have Fun

There are six things that I look at whenever I find myself floundering in my career or in life. These are six things that I take a close look at when I think to myself “I should do that thing” and another side of me says “but…”

Most people think that I am full steam ahead, have endless amounts of energy and am able to somehow warp time and space. They say things like “Rafi is the hardest working artist I know.” If I’m not careful, this kind of vision of myself can become a badge of honor and I would become the hardest working artist out there, which honestly would be a total drag.

I don’t want to be the hardest working anything. In fact, I don’t want to work hard, I don’t want anything I do to be hard work in the traditional sense, I want it to be fun.

I think one of the reasons things seem like hard work for most people is because, for the most part, we are not being chased by lions anymore. Stress, anxiety, and a plethora of other emotions are tied up in this little thing we do when we go into fight or flight. It is a natural response to danger. The problem is that we go into this danger response when we feel a looming deadline, or there is a bill that is due at the end of the month.

For a lot of people out there, the simple act of speaking in front of a group is paralyzing. It can feel like a life or death situation. People will say things like “If I say the wrong things, I’ll be so embarrassed I’ll die.”

Imagine starting an art career, or any other harebrained idea that has been nagging at you. How much of that is put to a standstill because of this crazy response that is designed to keep you from becoming supper for a lion? Here are six things I tell myself to motivate myself to do that thing, but also remember to have fun.

  1. My Voice: I have one, and the only way I will find it is by doing this thing. I might be scared, but it’s not about making a good impression, it’s about speaking my truth. It’s just my opinion, everyone has one.
  2. The Fear: The purpose of FEAR is to stop you. Sometimes that’s a good thing, like when you are in immediate danger. But, if you are holding yourself back from doing something you know you love, the only way to get to the truth is to face that fear as many times as you have to. Make it an exciting game. Btw if the thing you want to do is put your head in a shark’s mouth then I would say actual life-risking fears require more prep and research… don’t just find a shark.
  3. Get Started: Starting is where most people don’t even get to. There are millions of talented and creative geniuses walking around on the planet, but they just don’t start. You don’t have to dive in, but at least take a baby step daily.
  4. Momentum: Once you start, keep going. The more you do it the more momentum you gain and eventually, you become an unstoppable force.
  5. Habits: Understand that everything you do and every reaction is creating a habit, so create habits on purpose.
  6. Give Yourself A Purpose: This could be anything. To make beautiful art that speaks to people, to voice my opinion, to write music that will change a generation, or just to paint pretty pictures… it doesn’t matter what other people think of your purpose, just that it matters to you.

I guess the most important take away for me is that life is a short occurrence, so you might as well do the things you want to do… and have fun.

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When The Going Gets Tough, Just Keep Going

Recently I felt like a little mouse, with a tiny helmet, attempting to figure out a way to get the cheese out of a giant mousetrap. I’m not going to bore you with the details of how I got into this situation, I’ve already talked about it in length in my last blog, I will say running a creative business is a bitch a lot of the time…

Heck, being a human can be a bitch a lot of the time, so what do we do in this thing that we call life?

A lot of artists ask me how I managed to “succeed” in a field that actually carries with it the stigma that you are automatically going to starve if you pursue said career. The word “artist” is synonymous with “starving” and a lot of the time, they seem to go together like email spam and my grandmother opening it.

What is funny to me, is that I don’t focus on having a successful career. So whenever someone asks me how I did it, I usually don’t have that clear of an answer. I do, however, have certain things that I try to remind myself daily, and that’s probably one of the reasons people assume I’m doing so well. These don’t have much to do with career, they are the way I want to see the world and myself. Simple little reminders to keep going.

  1. You’re alive right now, and if you are alive, anything is still possible.
  2. You’re expecting too much of yourself. Most successes are not overnight successes. Take your time and find a way to enjoy the slow burn. Keep chipping away, little by little, you’ll get there.
  3. Remember that you are stronger than you think. You might privately think to yourself that you can’t handle the pressure. Trust me, we all do that, but we can do so much more than we think… and we can especially do way more than some people think we can.
  4. Even when things seem to be falling apart, you have reason to smile. This one is tricky, don’t lie to yourself with false positive thoughts, but find a genuine reason to smile and change perspective.
  5. Don’t compare yourself to people who you think are doing awesome. Instead, I think “If they’re doing great then I can too.” Besides, you haven’t walked in their shoes, you don’t know how they feel, but you know how you make yourself feel when you do something dumb like feel bad comparing yourself to someone you don’t really know anything about.
  6. I can find a different “How.” Take a deep breath, do number 4, and then find a different way… especially if you have been knocking on a wall for days… you may just need to move to the left about 3 ft and knock on the door.
  7. Can you find the fun in doing this? If not, consider the fact that maybe you should be doing something else. For this to work, I have to be honest with myself, because I can easily deceive myself into stopping. It’s important to remember why you started whatever you started and find your why… then check with yourself that you haven’t deviated from that purpose with your current project.
  8. Take a break and work on something that will make you feel like a bad-ass. We all have things that we are really good at. Sometimes, I’ll take a break from the thing I am currently failing at, and work on something that makes me feel awesome. An “I am forking AWESOME!” break… We need that reminder sometimes, and I find that it is best to remind yourself by doing something you are a rock-star at, even if it is totally unrelated.

Usually right after I remind myself of these things, I have a momentary lapse into despair. It’s the lowest point in your whole journey, a hopeless-looking place that comes right before feeling good. Because I expect it, I handle it pretty well, most times. It is the brain’s last ditch effort to keep things safe and maintain the status quo.

I know, it’s a weird relationship we have with our brain, but most of the programming we have in our brain is designed to keep us safe and sound from anything perceived as a threat. Recently, the idea of leaving the safety and comfort of Etsy to pursue our own platform was seen as a threat to my well being, so my brain did everything in it’s power to protect me. It’s why some people giggle when they are nervous… not sure how that would save you from a saber-toothed tiger, but maybe you can giggle away ghosts or something.

Anyhow…

When you’re pursuing anything, it’s almost inevitable that at some point you’ll think one or more of the following:

“This is harder than I thought it would be.”
“Why is this taking so long?”
“I’m getting nowhere with this.”
“I keep failing and screwing it up.”
“I can’t do this. What was I thinking?”

And when you do have one—or more—of these thoughts, it’s very likely that you’ll want to give up. When that happens, I remind myself of the points I made above.

Achieving large, hairy life goals isn’t easy. Doing much in life isn’t easy, and somewhere along the way it’s very likely that you’ll want to quit. But when you feel like quitting, and the going gets tough, just keep going.

Beside, it’s not a failure if you don’t quit… It’s just a work in progress.


HELP ME WRITE MY BOOK!

Pretty soon I’ll be starting a crowd funding campaign to help me finish my book(s) and audio-books. It’ll be the first of a series that I have been working on for the last 8 years. I am both excited and nervous!

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What Happens When You Speak Up As An Artist? Etsy Free Shipping Policy

So, this post is not going to be my usual feel good post, because there’s just a little something I want to get off my chest. Don’t worry, I’m not going to go all “Rage Against The Machine” here, but I’ve got something to say.

If you follow us on YouTube, you know that last week just about every video we posted had to do with our feelings about the new move by Etsy to coerce their sellers into providing “free shipping” and roll the lost shipping cost into the item prices. Which means we lie to our collectors, which neither Klee nor I were prepared to do.

Also, this whole policy change came with a clusterfudge of other problems as well, such as inflation of price means some buyers will pay multiple hidden shipping when they didn’t need to and shops with unpredictable shipping rates would have to price themselves out of the market. Plus, items that are fragile and hand made would be problematic to estimate shipping in the first place.

Klee and I also discovered that it’s illegal to deceive customers this way, taxes would now be charged on shipping cost, and international buyers would pay inflated price plus shipping… plus more, we lay it all out in the videos.

What was interesting about this whole thing was the response we received.

Most people that responded were in the same boat, as sellers, in facing this dilemma. Like Andy King who said “We just spent the day jacking up our prices, but like Rafi we sell paintings…so we added the cost to ship to California (which is the most expensive shipping for us typically). It’s ridiculous, because now etsy has the same stuff priced radically higher than we have it on other sites…extremely frustrating, because we even though we sell less on etsy than elsewhere, we’ve really enjoyed the platform and the fact that it’s always felt very supportive.”

Some hadn’t joined Etsy but agreed with our point of view. Like Missy B. who said “I am so glad I never did an Etsy shop. Many have suggested I do it but I would not. I watched enough videos on how to have a successful shop to know it just wasn’t for me. Now I know it is really not for me! Good for you standing firm.”

Some said our country was going to crap and went a little overboard in the comments. I’m guessing they were a little more upset than usual.

Expressions Series By Rafi Perez
Expressions Series By Rafi Perez

One person said I was whining about corporate change. She said “It sounds to me like Etsy is trying to separate the wheat from the chaff, it sounds like you don’t understand how business works. If you are selling enough art on Etsy, then this policy change should not bother you. “Rolling shipping into the selling price” is not new. It is a marketing strategy using psychology. And it works. Please do some business research before you publish videos trashing the hand that feeds you.”

To which I responded “I’m not sure you would be qualified to give me business lessons, especially because Etsy is not the hand that feeds me, they are merely one of many platforms to sell on. If anything, makers are the hand that feed Etsy. I’ve been in business for most of my life, and if you are selling cheap crap, then rolling in prices would be the way to go to trick people into purchasing by saying something is free when it’s not. You can justify it however you want, you’ll get no judgment from me, but don’t be offensive simply because you are trying to justify your point. You don’t know me, nor do you know my experience. So go on with your happy self.”

People are just different with different opinions, some will agree with you passionately, others will disagree passionately, most won’t care, and others just ignore you.

Art Chair By Rafi Perez

I was surprised to find that with the thousands of responses I received from Etsy sellers, forums of people who are upset, and plethora of videos discussing this issue, that none of the news outlets are talking about this. In fact the only real media you find is Forbes and other large outlets briefly mentioning that people are upset, followed by a plethora of quotes from the Etsy CEO talking about how great this move is for Etsy.

Etsy itself hasn’t made any kind of follow up statement… but then again they’re not facing any pressure from the mainstream media.

Small creative business be damned.

Rafi Working In Studio

So, how do I feel in all this?

Eh, I’ve moved on. Looking towards the future of my business, which does not involve Etsy. Not because I’m up in arms or looking for a fight, but because we no longer make good business partners. End of story.

I think what was most interesting about all of this is the way some people perceive Etsy sellers. Although we are small businesses with profit margins, overhead, costs, labor, business taxes, and everything else that it takes to run a business… there are some people viewing us as mentally unstable protesters, just using any means possible to bring down the government.

It’s just so interesting sometimes, to see how people react to what they believe is going on, without actually looking into it. Reading some of the comments, I was like “Did you even watch the video??”

Either way, we got so many amazing and supportive responses from so many people around the world, that it makes up for the idiots who think I’m a radical or something.

The truth is we are always going to be facing some challenges in our creative business, and how we handle it is up to us. Whether or not people perceive me as a victim, someone who is standing up and moving on, or some troublemaker, is none of my concern. Only I know what is good for my business, and honestly whether or not someone stays with Etsy or they go is none of my concern. They ultimately know what’s best for their business, and I support their decisions.

Personally, I will not advertise free shipping and not actually provide free shipping, it may not seem like a big deal and really it isn’t, but I will not compromise my ethics in order to make an extra buck. I will also not support a company who is willing to force their partners into doing such things at the expense of said partners. It also makes me sick every time I see an advertising from Etsy offering free shipping to people knowing that that person is paying inflated pricing… just not willing to do it.

All I know is that I’m looking forward, getting excited about my new chapter and new e-commerce ventures, and having fun… that’s all that matters.

If you want to watch the videos that started this adventure go to

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When A Harsh Critic Attacks – How I Handle It

Not well sometimes… but I’ve got some tricks up my sleeve that have helped me get better and better at dealing with poo flinging critics.

I think it is a necessary plight that one will have to get used to when you are putting yourself out there. I am an artist who creates art, music, writing, YouTube videos, and puts them all out there for the world to see… I get a lot of negative criticism.

People Can Say Mean Things About My Art And I Don’t Care

Comparatively speaking, I mostly get a lot of beautiful comments on my creations. We have a following of some of the most amazing humans I have ever had the pleasure of interacting with.

Yet, negative comments can still throw me off kilter, despite the overwhelming positivity I experience in the world. It’s almost like a temporary reminder that the world isn’t such a wonderful place… and there is an a-hole around every corner, just waiting to jump out and say you suck.

I want to be clear about something, I’m not talking about constructive criticism. Listen, sometimes even a helpful criticism can be hard to hear, and our first response may be to run away flailing our arms helplessly, but sometimes it’s valid. Follow the source and stop for a moment, get off your high horse and check to see if it is valid and constructive. If not, then we are talking about destructive criticism. If the criticism is constructive, then it’s intended to guide you and to help you improve as a person, not to bring you down and make you feel inadequate.

People Say Mean Things On My YouTube Channel All The Time, And I Don’t Care… Kinda… I’m working On It.

If the criticism is completely invalid, totally off, and only meant to hurt you, then that’s what I’m talking about here.

So what do I do when someone is all “blah blah blah you suck Rafi blah blah blah!” I Don’t take it personally. It takes a miserable person to try and make themselves feel better by giving some misery to someone else… don’t take it, it’s not yours, and it doesn’t belong to you. Understand that people who are in pain say really hurtful things, especially people that may know which buttons to press. Think about a time where you may have said something terrible to someone. Were you in your right mind? Were you in pain? Were you feeling like a victim? Some people live there in that place… don’t take it personally, unless you wanna visit and stay a while.

Recently A Friend Said Something Mean About My Singing And I Don’t Care.

Understand that it’s your buttons. Why is it that one person can be called ugly and not even react a little, but someone else will blow a gasket? It’s because we all have our own little triggers based on our own insecurities. So if someone says something and it bothers you, take a look and see if you can identify the insecurity or doubt behind the emotion. In my opinion, when someone says something mean and you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that they are full of crap, you hardly even react, but if they touch on something that pushes on an insecurity it can be devastating. Just remember, they are your buttons. Figure out what’s behind it and sort it out.

Keep doing what you’re doing. Are you going to stop being who you are simply because someone spewed some garbage at you? Of course not. If the criticism has no basis whatsoever, then the best thing you can do is to ignore it completely.

Honestly, only very few people will talk smack, and I’m going to keep doing what I do… and they can kiss my booty.

Listen, people talk shit all the time because they are not putting themselves out there in the muck, sweating, bleeding and enduring the terrifyingly exhilarating ride that is fulfilling your dreams. They are going to say you can’t sing, you can’t paint, you’re not funny, you’re are not good enough, and everything else that they can say to destroy your hope and get you to stop. Don’t EVER let someone who is not putting themselves out there in the muck discourage you from going all the way. If they are not doing it themselves, and facing critics of their own, then they have no right to talk.

Don’t feel bad if you’re not able to push all of the negative words aside right away. It takes practice to work it out and get to a place where it’s no thing… But you got this.