3 Artist Rules That Apply To Life

Along with our creative careers, Klee and I also do YouTube Videos. The videos are mostly geared towards artists, but also have a lot of life advice that we have picked up the hard way, mostly by living life as career artists.

When you are an artist, you live a life full of fun things like constant rejection, people thinking you do drugs, people feeling sorry for your life choices, banks denying you for a home loan (while smirking at how cute it was that you walked into the bank in the first place), people thinking you should get a “real job”, and general disapproval of your status as a contributing member of society.

Don’t get me wrong, being a career artist is amazing, but not everyone looks at us in a healthy light, and if you don’t have your thoughts in the right place, it can destroy your emotional state. I’ve seen people crumble after one rejection and give up.

That’s why I think as artists, we can have an advantage in living a happy life, because we have to face rejection, find our inspiration, manage a business, manage a stream of income that is unpredictable, create product that is considered a luxury to most of the world (even though I will argue that owning art is one of the healthiest things you can do), deal with our own insecurities, and constantly have to push ourselves out of our comfort zones in order to stay relevant… I know, I’m not selling the concept, but bear with me.

Rafi and klee

As an artist you have to face your fears, if you run away from them, there really is no way to make a career of it.

So, here are the 3 rules that I would say apply to everything in life, but also to having an art career.

  • Be authentic.
    Paint or create only that which interests you, in the way you choose to paint or create it. Don’t change your approach to gain sales, popularity or acceptance. You will never do your best work if you do. In life, you will become trapped in a version of you that isn’t real. It is much simpler to be yourself, that way you can surround yourself with people that you don’t have to put on an act for.
  • Compete only with yourself.
    Avoid competitions, contests and measuring yourself by how many shows you’ve gotten into or awards you’ve won. Seek validation internally, you will never please everyone. Don’t ever compare yourself to anyone on any level. You are the most perfect version of you that exists in the world. It’s when you try to be someone else that you’ll think you see flaws in something that is inherently perfect.
  • Remember that it takes a lifetime.
    You can’t just sign up for a workshop or go to an art class once a week and expect gallery representation and collectors to follow shortly thereafter. It takes time. Be patient in life, but take every opportunity you can to smile, laugh, love, show your art, and have fun. You may get rejected, but that’s all part of this wonderful journey we are on. If rejection doesn’t bother you, then you are halfway there.
Rafi and Klee Photography

The goal should not be to get famous or rich, just to enjoy your precious life as much as possible. If you get rich and famous in the process, that is just bonus.

I Burst Into Tears… Well, Kinda.

Empowering Art By Rafi Perez

The other day I was thinking about working on a special piece. I started sketching it out and thinking about the meaning. Someone being pulled in so many different directions that he becomes a puppet to the world around him.

Art By Rafi Perez

While talking to Klee about it, I broke down and my eyes started tearing up. The only reason I didn’t go into a full sob was the fact that I was so surprised at my emotions.

Listen, I am a grown ass man, and I’m not embarrassed to cry, or admit that I cry, but this actually caught me off guard.

It made me realize that something had felt off. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but deep down I knew something was bothering me.

Do What You Can Rafi Perez

For the most part I’m a pretty happy guy, in fact our following online knows us for our upbeat perspectives on life and being artists full time.

Over the last few years I had developed a public image of a guy who’s genuine, creative, happy, upbeat, and loving life. But recently I had been a little stressed about some things… and I didn’t feel like myself. Worse, was the idea that I had never been that guy and that my entire life was a sham.

Luckily, Klee was there to talk sense into my confused brain unit. She told me that the only reputation I had to uphold was to be the real me. She said I have a really hard time being anything not real, so I have nothing to worry about.

2 Birds On A Wire By Rafi Perez

I guess sometimes you may try to bury things inside, but they’ll always come up to the surface for you to look at and face head on. So next time you cry during a cheesy commercial, think about that.

I was allowing myself to feel like I was less than who I am, and that everyone was pulling me in different directions. I have done a lot of work on myself for over a decade, to make sure I am comfortable with who I am, and that’s who everyone sees.

Whether it’s in a YouTube video, a blog, a work of art, it will always be me… So, if anyone expects anything different, then they’ve never looked at any of my stuff before.

Moral of the story… Just be you, it’s way easier than not being you.

Get Out of Your Head and Into The World

As an artist, I work from home, in my studio, on my laptop, at the easel, and sitting on the couch sketching. We have a YouTube channel, Patreon account and other social media where we connect with many people online, but few “real-life” interactions.

Rafi Perez in his art studio

Luckily, Klee and I share an art career and get to spend that time together in the studio, but sometimes we can spend over a week inside. There are times when talking with the cashier at the grocery store is the social highlight of our day.

Klee In The Studio

In a world where so much happens online, we have to be careful to not neglect the importance of real face-to-face connection.

I find that sometimes things can feel a little disconnected when you don’t venture out much. Listen, I love our studio time, and I totally thrive as a hermit… but sometimes it can go too far.

If you’re going through a tough time, you might feel especially inclined to isolate yourself, but it’s only going to make things worse. I find that even when I don’t want to be around people, it’s important to surround yourself with people you love, and people who inspire you.

Rafi and Klee Art

So next time you are feeling a bit down, or you are stuck in your head, go outside. Interact with humans, have fun, and live an adventure with people who inspire you.

Then, once you get your fill, go back to your creative hermit hole inspired to create your next masterpiece.

The Little Things In Life Are Huge

Recently Klee and I went up north to go see my daughter’s lead performance in her last High school play. It was an amazing trip, watching her on stage was a highlight of the year. I don’t think I can describe in words how proud I am. I’m also happy that Klee and I had the opportunity to talk in the car for 28 hours of driving.

Rafi and Klee travel

I’ll be honest, before we left I was a little stressed about time and finances. This year has been a bit slow starting for us, and although I know things always look up, I was in the thick of it while paying and planning for the trip.

I also knew that the long drive would be a great opportunity to talk things out and figure out what was going on in my head. I’m usually very optimistic and tend to feel empowered in most situations, but somehow I had lost my grasp and was venturing into a dark place. This drive would be a great way to dig deep.

Final Bow

One of the things that struck me while investigating my head was that I was distracted. My mind would wander into worst case scenarios and I would miss the experience I was in. I noticed that Klee had to repeat herself at times because I just wasn’t there. What was interesting about this, was that life was happening, and I was missing it.

I thought about all those little moments that we fail to notice, and how freeing it is to appreciate those little moments.

Rafi at Natural Falls

And yet most of the time we fail to notice them. We don’t recognize them properly, forget them, or simply take them for granted.

Once I realized this, I made a mental list of reasons why gratitude for the little things in life is important.

Appreciating the little things in life means that you focus your attention on what nurtures, sustains, and brings you even the smallest amount of pleasure. By appreciating life, you won’t stop bad stuff from happening, but you’ll learn how to stop emphasizing the meaning of bad events in your life.

Rafi and Klee Art Mobile

Once you take a moment to appreciate an act of kindness coming from someone you love or a person you don’t even know, you’ll become more aware of your belonging to a community of people who care about each other. Reciprocating these actions only helps to strengthen these social bonds.

Resilient people build their strengths on positive emotions. These emotions simply help them to cope with difficult situations.

Rafi and Klee travel

When you’re in the middle of a life event, it’s important that you savor it as much as you can. Choose to be present in the now. When you’re living with more awareness, you notice everything – the little pieces of everyday beauty.

I think we tend to get caught up in the drama of our minds and forget that life is beautiful, precious, and short. So stop and appreciate all of it.

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.

Welcome To 2019 Earthlings

This time of year I always seem to find myself more contemplative than ever. It’s almost like I can’t help but evaluate my experiences of last year and come up with a fuzzy idea of a plan that is not really a plan for the new year.

Rafi Perez Painting Explorer

I think everyone does this to one extent or another. I remember back in my less optimistic days, this time of year was only a reminder that time was running out. I would spend most of my time thinking about lost opportunities, and how terrible my year went. Yeah, I was not a ray of sunshine back then, and to be honest, my life was a reflection of my attitude.

Luckily for me, I stopped being a dumb-ass and started to appreciate this thing we call life.

My new year resolutions are not the typical “I want my butt to look better in jeans” type of resolutions (my butt looks great in jeans, btw), they have more to do with realizations I had throughout the year.

The one that is really on my mind is based on our recent trips and around 60 hours worth of conversations on said trips with Klee.

  • Appreciating every single individual moment that I spend being alive, and really taking advantage of the fact that I am breathing and able to make decisions that impact my life now. Essentially, not waiting around for things to happen, but just living now. Our experience last year was a solid realization that life is extremely short… So EVERY moment is precious.
  • Remembering that I am unique, but so is everyone else and there really isn’t such a thing as normal. Everyone is weird, but there are those who embrace it, and there are those who hide it. Embrace it always.

Well, that’s all I have so far, it’s still a work in progress and Klee and I will probably have some long conversations about feelings, goals, life, and other fun stuff. Have fun figuring out your awesome resolutions for 2019.

Oh yeah, play more guitar, write more blogs, film more videos, create more amazing art, and try to ween myself off of Snyder’s buffalo pretzel bits, those are on the list as well, so we’ll see how those go for 2019. Just kidding on the pretzel bits, I’m never gonna give those up.

Rafi Perez Playing Guitar

Life Is Happening Right Now

As some of you know, the last few days Klee and I have been putting some mileage on our little yellow Jeep. We scheduled a trip up north to visit my youngest kids for a couple days and watch my daughter perform in her fall play.

On-The-Road

I’ll be honest, the idea of scheduling any kind of trip during the holiday season is not something that is easy for me because of the potential loss of income for our business while traveling. Not to mention, there is technically no one there to run the business while we are on the road. Throw in the ever looming uncertainty of being career artists and you can imagine my struggle.

But, you know, I realized something… Life is happening right now. I’m not saying that my art career is not a part of my life, because it is, it’s a great part of my life… but it is not all there is to life. My life is a complex series of moments that involve all the different facets of the ever changing human that I am.

Rafi-and-Klee-Cold

Don’t worry, I’m not quitting my art career, that would be ridiculous. I love creating art, it is definitely a large part of who I am. I’m not sure I would even know what to do if I wasn’t creating something.

What I am saying is, I think I have to put myself in check. So not much will change except the way I see things on the inside, so don’t freak out… I’m not going anywhere.

Alex-Driving

My trip was amazing, Klee and I froze our butts off in the wintry weather, we hung out with two little amazing humans, got to teach my daughter a little something about driving, and got to see an awesome performance by my superstar… Life is good.

Alex-On-Stage

There are so many things to be appreciated in life. So many little things that can leave such a beautiful impact. These little things in of themselves can seem unimportant when you are thinking about your career or making money, but it is those small moments that are so powerful.

Zach-and-Coffee

A hot chocolate in a cute cafe, on the main street, in a small town, in the mountains, that is decorated for Christmas, with my son complaining, is a memory that I will always cherish.

I guess what I am saying, is to be aware that you are not turning something that you love into a serious thing that keeps you from experiencing the things that you want to experience in life. It’s easy to say “I don’t have the time or money to do that”, and honestly sometimes you don’t, but will it be something you’ll regret not doing?

Rafi and Klee Photography

I guess I’m thinking about this because we just got back and will be leaving again tonight and going down south to a funeral. Life and death, it’s the one thing we all share, we live and we die.

I hope I’m not getting you down, that’s not my intention. I just think it’s important to stop and think about these things every once in a while.

Because life is precious… and it’s happening right now… Enjoy it now, while you can… every beautiful moment.

 

 

Calendar-2019-button

It’s Been A Fantastic Ride So Far

This month is always fun for me, because it marks the anniversary of Klee and I taking a chance on the unknown. It will be about 9 years since we jumped into the Explorer and decided to go on an adventure to push our limits beyond what we had experienced.

Randk trip (22)

I’ll never forget the day that Klee looked at me seriously (it was a very dramatic tele-novella look) and said “I’m going with you”. See, I had decided that I was going to travel around the country and experience a new perspective on life. Despite the fact that my family kept saying I would probably die from eating poison berries, my mind was set.

In fact, even finally meeting the love of my life and developing a beautiful new relationship wasn’t going to deter me from taking this journey.

Randk trip (46)

I had spent my life the same way that many people do, being someone who I wasn’t. I mean, I didn’t really know who I was. I knew I liked certain things, didn’t like other things, got mad about things, and laughed at others… but I wasn’t sure if it was just who I thought I should be, or who I really was.

Randk trip (15)

I had never really taken a look at myself from the outside, or challenged my own thoughts. I just reacted to situations and circumstances in life, but never really asked the question “Why am I reacting this way?”. I think I was under the impression that I didn’t have a choice, that I was “just that way”.

As a result, my life sucked, or at least that’s how I felt. I think back then I was so far down the rabbit hole that no matter what the circumstances of my life could have been, I would have made it suck in my head.

Then I hit rock bottom… and it was the best thing that could have ever happened to me.

Randk trip (76)

It was as if someone had reset the computer in my head, and for the first time in my life, I was questioning why I was settling for beliefs that worked against me, and actually caused me to hate myself.

Cut to 2 years of self examination and I was ready to challenge the world.

Randk trip (53)

Yup, that’s who Klee decided to get in a car and travel around the country with. Some hairy bandanna wearing guy that freaked out her mother.

A guy that she would spend weeks in the middle of the everglades with.

Randk trip (143)

A guy that she hiked shark valley with, even though we underestimated what 14 miles would take out of us.

A guy that she took turns with hugging a four and a half foot alligator named Leroy.

A guy she wrote music with and performed live while his knees gave out because he was so nervous.

DSC06822

A guy that she lived in Key West with for several months while they worked out some of their baggage.

A guy that she went kayaking with for their first time and got lost in the sun for six hours and still had a blast even though they were sunburned.

Randk trip (8)

A guy that encouraged her to interview David Sheely who is the top investigator of the Florida Skunk Ape.

A guy she encouraged to show his art for the first time… and who is forever grateful.

A guy that loves her more and more every day and can’t possibly write down all the amazing things we have done so far.

Randk trip (116)

I’m so happy she did.

So, here we are still on this adventure. We may not be driving around the country but we are most definitely staying true to who we are as best we can every day. What I didn’t know back then, when I planned this adventure was that I would be sharing it with Klee… And that I am ever changing, and so is she… So no matter what, every day is a new adventure.

 

 

Rafi And Klee Enter Artel Gallery 25th Anniversary Show

Yesterday Klee and I dropped off some of our art for the 25th Anniversary Show at Artel Gallery in downtown Pensacola.

Rafi And Klee Enter Artel 25th Anniversary Show

As some of you know, I won ‘Best Of Show’ at the last exhibition with my sculpture. Klee was there with me at the reception, she has always been so supportive. At every reception, she has been there to help me face anything that may come my way and to be my cheerleader.

Rafi And Klee Enter Artel 25th Anniversary Show

What makes this particular show super exciting for me is that Klee also has a piece in the show. So we will both be there for the reception on June 14th strutting our stuff and representing our own art. This will give me a chance to show my support for her and her awesome talent.

This event is open to the public, so please join us on June 14th, 6pm at Artel Gallery in Downtown Pensacola.

My submission is Chasing Fairies.

Rafi And Klee Enter Artel 25th Anniversary Show

ABOUT THIS PAINTING
In a world where everything is much more serious and complicated than those moments of innocence and wonder we experienced as children, this piece symbolizes the child within all of us that will believe in the impossible. Everything is possible.

Rafi And Klee Enter Artel 25th Anniversary Show

Klee’s Submission is “Everlasting Oak” Tree of Life Pendant Necklace.

Rafi And Klee Enter Artel 25th Anniversary Show

One of a kind solid 14k gold tree of life necklace on a stunning rectangular cushion cut moss agate stone with genuine blue diamond leaves.

Moss Agate is a variety of Chalcedony, a mineral of the Quartz family. It is clear to milky white, with dendritic inclusions of manganese or iron that has grown into patterns similar to moss or lichen. It has been highly regarded throughout history as a stone of strengthening, stability, healing, balance and abundance.

Rafi And Klee Enter Artel 25th Anniversary Show

The oak tree has long been a symbol of strength, endurance, wisdom and nobility, highly revered for it’s size and longevity as well as the abundant gifts it has provided over the centuries. This tree, created in solid gold and blue diamonds, is truly an “Everlasting Oak.”

Diamonds are the most well known symbol of “forever”. The leaves of this tree are genuine conflict free blue diamonds (color enhanced). Their color is a greenish-teal blue that perfectly compliments the mossy inclusions of the agate. 44 of them adorn the branches of this tree, sparkling and shimmering in a truly magical way.

Hope to see you there:

What: Art Exhibition – 25th Anniversary Show
Where: Artel Gallery – 223 Palafox Place, Old Escambia County Courthouse, Pensacola, FL 32502
When: Opening Reception June 14th, 6pm-8pm (Show Runs June 5th – July 13th)
Why: Because it’s awesome! Come hang out with us during the opening reception!

Winning Is Always An Option If You Don’t Quit

As I approached the gallery I found myself wondering how in the world I was going to get the massive sculpture I constructed up the stairs. I had somehow managed to squeeze it into my car without damaging it, which I attributed to dumb luck.

Luck seemed to be on my side that morning, considering I had pulled into a parking spot right in front of the shiny and unending staircase into the gallery.

Nature Of Being Sculpture By Rafi Perez
Nature Of Being Sculpture By Rafi Perez

I’ve entered the juried art competitions at Artel Gallery a handful of times with varying results. I still remember the first piece I entered, which was rejected with no particular pomp and circumstance. It was laid off to the side with the other rejects waiting for me to glumly collect it, like picking up a child from detention.

That rejection had a devastating impact on my self esteem as an artist for some time. I had just started selling my art and gaining some traction with local collectors, and it caused me to feel like I wasn’t good enough to continue masquerading as an artist.

It wasn’t until several years later that I decided to enter another piece, which didn’t get rejected.

Rafi Perez Best In Show Artel Gallery
Rafi Perez Artel Gallery

The marble steps to the gallery blazed white in the hot sun, daring me to make a move. I had managed to get the sculpture out of the car without damaging it, knocking myself in the head only once.

The only idea that my mind could seem to muster that morning was to pick up the sculpture and maneuver the stairs as quickly as possible. The sculpture isn’t necessarily heavy, it’s just awkward to carry around, because like most sculptures, I didn’t design it to be carried around.

I prepared myself at the bottom of the mountainous stairs, glanced around to make sure no one was watching, and steadied my breath. One false move and all the work and effort that went into my art would be laying in pieces on the forbidding marble steps.

Rafi Perez Best In Show Artel Gallery
Rafi Perez Best In Show Artel Gallery

After deciding to enter my art again, I got pieces into four separate shows, won best of show, and had a solo show in their alcove. I also got rejected two more times, but it didn’t have an impact on my self esteem as an artist. Some might attribute the lack of feeling dejected to the fact that I had a couple years as a career artist under my belt, but I know plenty of seasoned artists who have a difficult time with any rejection.

I don’t have difficulty with rejection because after two years of avoiding art competitions, I finally realized that you can’t win if you don’t enter; and your art is not being rejected, it simply didn’t match the taste of the juror. The thing is, that art competitions don’t matter, but if you want to win one, you are going to have to face rejection. In fact, if you want to do anything awesome or important with your art career, you are probably going to face a lot of rejection and criticism.

If you want to be safe from rejection, then don’t put yourself out there, don’t do anything different from the norm, don’t try to have a voice, and definitely don’t become an artist.

Rafi Perez Solo Art Show 2017
Rafi Perez Solo Art Show 2017

Simply because someone rejects your artwork (or whatever it may be) doesn’t mean that you are worthless. It doesn’t have anything to do with you, and never will. A lot of people avoid thinking about being rejected or losing, but in my opinion it’s a good idea to think about that worst case scenario, and face the fear in your mind.

What if my piece gets rejected? How will I feel? What does it mean?

These could be hard questions, but until you ask yourself and question the validity of your answers, you are going to keep reacting in misery to rejection. The really cool thing about exploring these questions is that you don’t have to react at all, you can respond to the situation however you like.

My answers are less dramatic and devastating since I’ve had a chance to explore this topic and really decide how I want to respond to these questions and this particular type of rejection.

What if my piece gets rejected?

Then it get’s rejected. I pick it up, bring it home and probably sell it at some point in my lifetime. Who knows, it may win a prize at some other art competition… just didn’t suit the juror this time I guess.

How will I feel?

Fine, I have other more important things to focus on.

What does this mean?

Only what I think it means. If I think I’m a failure or a reject, that’s on me. This is an opportunity for me to show myself who I am, by the way I respond. I choose to respond by saying “Well, maybe next time… I got shit to do right now.”

Chasing Fairies By Rafi Perez
Chasing Fairies By Rafi Perez

I glanced around one more time, held my breath, and made a run for it. I verbally counted every step as I ascended the stairs with the agility of sloth in running shoes.

Out of breath and elated that I made it to the top, I stood there gleaming in victory. I then proceeded to scrape and bang my way awkwardly through the front door, hitting my head one more time for good measure. I placed the sculpture safely in the gallery lobby, signed it in, and breathed a sigh of relief.

By the way, it was number 13 in the roster… talk about dumb luck.

I had done it. I achieved something I thought was impossible to do on my own, willing to face humiliation and rejection for something I love and believe in… my art, my sense of fun, my freedom to be me.

Nature Of Being Sculpture By Rafi Perez
Nature Of Being Sculpture By Rafi Perez

Had I given up, after that first rejection it would have controlled me. I would have spent the rest of my life being afraid to face rejection, and I would have been filled with “what ifs”.

I don’t believe you actually fail, even if your art doesn’t get in. Even if you get rejected, or lose… I think you only fail if you give up… because that’s the one thing you have control over.

It’s sometimes easy to give up because things might seem hopeless or hard. I didn’t think I could possibly get the sculpture to the gallery on my own, but my belief in dumb luck took over, and I decided to try.

Good thing too, I won Best Of Show.

Recycled Art By Rafi Perez
Best Of Show Recycled Art By Rafi Perez