Some of you already know that I am a big supporter of overcoming fear. If you have been following my art for any amount of time you may have noticed a common theme of self empowerment and badassery.
A lot of people assume that I am fearless because of the topics I tackle and the things I push myself to do in life. The truth is, I’m kind of afraid of everything, and when I say everything, I mean… EVERYTHING.
I think fear is an ongoing thing, like layers in an onion, the more you uncover, the deeper the layers can go.
I don’t think there are people out there that are completely fearless. I think they just handle their fears differently than most of us are used to.
I’ve developed the mindset that I would be more afraid of sitting on my ass and not following my dreams, than letting day after day go by without me taking action and conquering the things I fear.
I have four things that I do when facing a fear:
1. Go to war
Your brain is going to give you a line up of worst case scenarios. Use it, act as if you are giving yourself the opportunity to trouble shoot and prepare yourself for the worst thing that can happen and plan accordingly.
2. Will I regret not doing this?
Simply ask yourself if you would regret not having at least tried.
3. Blow your own mind.
Ask yourself four questions that follow this pattern:
What would happen if I did this?
What wouldn’t happen if I did this?
What would happen if I didn’t do this?
What wouldn’t happen if I didn’t do this?
It will blow your mind and breakdown any irrational logic you are using to stop yourself.
4. Stop thinking about it and just do it already.
Stop hesitating… plain and simple.
I go into more detail in this video and Klee tells a powerful story about her own experience with fear… it’s pretty awesome.
Let me know your thoughts on fear and how you overcome your own fears that may be keeping you from following your dreams.
Have you ever had someone tell you that you weren’t good enough, that you’ll never make it, or that you would fail? If you have, then welcome to the club, this is a good place to be so don’t fret.
I think we all have some of those people in our lives, that either verbally or quietly disapprove of what they consider our childish ambitions. The truth is that anything that is outside of the norm is considered childish most of the time.
It’s interesting to me that most artists that are revered today for ushering in a new era of art, were considered losers by the art establishments in their day. We usually write this off by saying that the artist was ahead of his time, but I think it has more to do with perseverance than anything else.
Today, we consider Vincent Van Gogh to be one of the greatest and most influential painters of all time, but that wasn’t the case when he was alive. Van Gogh’s work received little to no recognition during his lifetime. His paintings were often described as being too dark and lacking the bright liveliness seen in Impressionist paintings of the time.
The funny thing is that Monet’s Impressionist paintings were rejected before they became popular as well. His work and other Impressionists’ paintings were rejected by society and art exhibitions because it went against the traditional style and method of painting.
Even Picasso was highly criticized by his peers quite often because some of his paintings diverged from the divergent artist movements that were happening already.
The fact is that each one of these artists embraced their craft and just kept creating despite what people were telling them. They painted what they painted because they wanted to, not because it was popular. Eventually, they had a large body of work that just could not be ignored.
Vincent Van Gogh died poor, having only sold one painting to a friend in his lifetime, but he also died young. I think had he lived longer he would have found fame like any other creative person that perseveres through what I call the dark years.
No matter what you want to do in your life, I think if you don’t give up, you’ll get there. If you keep going, creating, and moving forward there is no way you can truly fail. If you quit, it’s like closing a fairy tale book before getting to the end. It doesn’t mean there isn’t a happy ending, you just stopped reading before actually getting there.
People around you are going to tell you that you will fail, and they’re right, but failure is a temporary stretch of road that can lead to a happy ending. But, you’ll never know if you don’t try.
Watch me talk about other creative geniuses who were considered losers in this video:
So, yesterday I submitted some pieces that I created for a juried art show that takes place at Artel Gallery, in downtown Pensacola.
I’m sure most of you will find it hard to believe, that it was a terrifying act for me. Yeah, only my closest friends (and now you) know that I have an childlike fear of having my art judged by art competition judges.
Let’s make something clear, I don’t mind having my art judged. People judge my art all the time, some love it, some hate it, either way, it doesn’t bother me. Put the art in a competitive setting and I become a nervous third grader.
Now, I’m fully aware this is ridiculous. I’m an established artist, I have collectors of my work, and I am well known… yet, just because it doesn’t make sense, doesn’t mean I didn’t almost piss myself yesterday.
This video will let you live my experience yesterday:
The theme of the show is about animal life. The show is called “It’s A Zoo In Here” and runs for the month of October.
I decided to enter the show, face my fears, and submit my art… For the past few years, I’ve been working on getting rid of silly fears that stand in the way. Sometimes, I have to push outside of my comfort zones, which seems to be an ongoing thing, so I better get used to it.
I created two pieces for the show called “Rags to Fishes” and “Rehabilitation Of Beauty.” My friend and art collector, Monica Gaskins owns a Zebra sculpture I created recently, and she allowed me to submit it as my third piece.
“Rags to Fishes” is a sculpture I created using old pieces of canvas that I collected from the stretching process. They typically get thrown away, but it seemed like such a waste to throw perfectly good canvas away… that stuff is expensive, and I couldn’t bring myself to just throw it away.
Watch the video above to hear which piece won best of show… That’s right! I won best of show… How awesome is that!
The show reception is Wednesday, October 12, 6pm-8pm. Klee and I will be there, which is also outside of my comfort zone because I got best of show, and there is a part of me that doesn’t know how to handle that… Like I said ridiculous, but I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it. 🙂
Have you ever had somebody just destroy something you created with an unwelcome verbal assault? That’s what a lot of us artists feel it like when we get any type of negative criticism.
“She looks like an amputee, do you find amputees hot or something?” Said drunk she.
As an artist I expose my emotions to the world in my art. This can be slightly terrifying unless you have a particular mindset when showing your work. I’ve had the benefit now of showing my pieces in just about every venue you can imagine. Some prestigious events and showings, such as my solo show at Marty Campbell Gallery, and some not so prestigious such as the flea markets and drunken parties.
“Some artists that I talk to, believe you have to develop a thick skin in order to be able to take the criticism.”
Personally, I think a thick skin only suppresses hurt emotions and leads to other issues. I’ll give you an example, recently I was showing my pieces at an event and a woman who had been clearly plastered made it a point to make a snide comment about every piece I was exhibiting.
“Is she supposed to be an amputee, is that what you where going for?” Said drunk she.
“Nope.” Said me.
“She looks like an amputee, do you find amputees hot or something?” Said drunk she.
“Sure… Being an amputee doesn’t make someone less hot.” Said me.
“Well, that’s fucked up.” Said drunk she.
“Guess you would know.” Said me as I walked away.
Admittedly, I could have just walked away without making that last comment. The truth is it wouldn’t have mattered if she was standing in front of a masterpiece or a turd on a stick, she was trying to be funny for her friends and acting like an idiot. That’s not to say that she is an idiot, she’s probably really sweet, but she is definitely not a very good art critic when she’s drunk and trying to be funny.
“I think you can easily get wrapped up in an “us” versus “them” mentality when you are showing something so intimate.”
Had I developed a thick skin, I probably would have just gotten mad under the surface and ignored her. But later on, I would be talking crap about her to my friends and complaining about stupid people who don’t appreciate art, and on and on.
What you have to remember is that everyone sees what they see. You see something special when you look at your art. Someone else looks and they may see something special to them, but they are not seeing the same thing. Reality is subjective and everyone sees the world through their own filter of understanding. That is what makes being an artist such an awesome thing, you get to hear all kinds of different interpretations of the world through your art.
Some are easy to hear because they resonate with you, some don’t and you consider it negative criticism of your work.
“He stared at me for a minute like I was the biggest idiot on the planet and then stormed off.”
I had another guy look at one of my pieces and tell me that my art was just ok, but it could be great if I followed his advice.
“That angel piece is cool, but it could be so much better.” Said drunk he.
“Really, how so?” Asked me.
“If you had her cutting her wings off, you know, because she hates herself and doesn’t think she deserves them.” Said drunk he.
“Um, that’s not really my thing…” Said me, gesturing to all my paintings.
“Bro, if you did that you would be famous! You Know, she’s a cutter and hates herself, and she’s cutting her wings off and there is blood. She doesn’t think she deserves life, she doesn’t deserve her beauty, so she cuts her face! You do that and I’ll buy it from you! And…” Exclaimed drunk he passionately.
I cut him off at that point.
“Not my thing, but thanks for the input.” Said me as I walked away.
“I’m sure there is a big market for masochistic angels who hate themselves, and he’s probably right, I would make the big time, but it’s not who I am.”
I’m am always aware of how powerful emotions play in creating a piece, something like that would require me to go down an emotional path that I’m not willing to take. That being said, it doesn’t mean he was wrong or stupid, it was his opinion and feeling of what he wanted to see. It has to do with him, not the art itself.
Basically, everyone sees your art through their eyes, 10 billion different interpretations of your work. Whether they are drunk or not. Love it or hate it. Don’t take it personally, it has nothing to do with you. Enjoy the ride, the criticism and remember that if no one was saying anything about your work, that would suck way worse.
Upcoming Public Events:
OPEN STUDIO WITH RAFI AND KLEEDecember 4, 2020We are doing an open holiday studio. Bring your own cocoa and a sense of fun. We will be doing several giveaways, showing some new art and jewelry, playing some music, and having fun. https://www.facebook.com/Rafiwashere/posts/10159971635373532
YouTube Live Stream PublicDecember 16, 2020 at 7:00 pm – 8:00 pmThis is the public Live Stream we do every month. Find us on Youtube at https://www.youtube.com/user/RafiwashereUS
NEW BOOK AVAILABLE “THE ROGUE ARTIST’S GUIDE TO ROGUE MARKETING AND MONEY” FOR PRE_ORDER NOW!