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How To Be A Badass Artist

Many people will ask me about my art and popularity and assume that I have always had some secret answer to both. The truth is much more exciting. Contrary to popular belief, I wasn’t born with it. In fact, I spent most of my life having abysmal social skills.

Any sentence containing the word “Rafi” would not be followed by a phrase containing the words popular, cool, or badass. It was quite the opposite. I was painfully shy and assumed that I would never amount to anything. Of course, back then, I didn’t push my own boundaries.

Just look at how cool I was.

In my shy brilliance, I understood I was introverted and scared to get in the limelight. Anything requiring me to face rejection or put myself out there would bring paralyzing fear.

So what changed?

I did. At some point in my life, I decided that life was too short to be invisible. I knew somewhere deep inside that I was stronger than I had believed. I also understood that the best way to conquer fear was to face it head-on. Hence, my art career. Sure, I wanted to share my art with the world, but honestly, this whole ride has been a self-conducted social experiment. I wanted to see if I could turn someone who felt broken and small into someone who would have a powerful creative voice in the world. To this day, this is what motivates me to create and put myself out there.

Here are seven things that I have learned along the way.

Worrying About What People Think Of You Is Useless.

This is one of the most powerful lessons I have learned. I had a hard time wrapping my head around it, but it was life-changing once I did. People will always have opinions, no matter what you do or say. Not doing a thing or holding yourself back and not living the life you want due to other people is a waste of precious time. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what they think. They have their lives. You have yours. As long as you are not hurting anyone in doing your thing, they can go fly a kite.

Invest In Yourself And Your Badassery.

Back in the day, everything I did could be traced to trying to get validation or some kind of reputation. I spent most of my time trying to prove that I deserved good things. I didn’t self-indulge in art materials because I thought it was not responsible in other people’s eyes. “Why do you need so many sketchbooks?” Because I’m a damn artist, that’s why. Invest in yourself, and don’t allow yourself to feel guilty about it.

If I was dating this would be my profile picture because I’m so cool. Thank the lord I am married.

Choose Carefully Who Influences You.

There are a lot of naysayers in the world. This is because most of them have given up on their dreams for some reason or another. These people usually have great arguments on why something isn’t possible. I guarantee you that they have spent their lives justifying their decision to quit and thus have a convincing argument. However, they are full of shit. Everyone I know actively pursuing their dream would never crush someone else’s dream. People that give up are so jaded that their only way of making themselves feel better is to convince someone else that their way of thinking is the correct way to see the world. You don’t need those people to influence how you will live your life.

Just Go For It, Especially If You Are Afraid.

The fear never goes away on its own. If you avoid it, it doesn’t get better. In fact, the act of avoidance just makes it worse. The only way to honestly face a fear is to do what you are afraid to do. At the beginning of my art career, EVERYTHING I did to put myself out there was terrifying. However, my life was exciting. When you push boundaries, fear is always involved as you have new experiences. Embrace the fear and have the adventure. The alternative is to just go back to how things have always been. For example, I am terrified to play music on stage and this weekend I will be performing music at our art exhibition. As scary as that is, the adventure of facing the fear is absolutely worth it.

I’m so cool that the autofocus can’t keep up with me.

Argue With The Stickman.

Every morning I calm my mind and breathe. Some call this meditation. I call it arguing with my stickman. The stick man is that inner voice like a drunk asshole that just blurts out the most damaging things about you. Most of us either take what they say as truth or try to bury the feeling inside us. Suppose you’ve heard yourself saying, “I’m so stupid!” or avoiding an unsettling feeling. That is the stickman. The stickman has a kegger in your mind, totally disregarding your furniture. Even if you hear yourself getting mad and throwing daggers because someone is trying to empower you, this can mean that the stick man is in control. Argue with that voice and remind yourself that you are capable. Just because it’s in your head doesn’t mean it’s true or even a belief that truly belongs to you.

Let Go Of The Past

The truth is that we all have epic stories of tragedy in our lives. I am talking about some horrible shit. Every one of us. We’ve all had painful experiences. It’s just part of being a human being. However, I’ve seen people stuck there and unable to move on from the pain because they carry resentment. I spent most of my life with the weight of resentment on my shoulders. It was limiting me from moving on with my life and approaching it as an empowered badass. Once I slowly let go of something, I could move on and reidentify with my badassery. I realized that by holding on, I was allowing someone who had wronged me to have control over my life and emotions. Fuck that.

This is my cool looking at my phone face.

Do It, Not Say It, And Spray It.

Back in the day, I constantly talked about things I would do but never took action. I think I was looking for validation for my ideas. It’s almost like looking for permission. As I started to change my way of thinking, I realized it was better to just do the thing and prove to MYSELF that I could do it. That’s where your power is. It is in what you believe about yourself. Everyone else can keep their opinions to themselves.

At the end of the day, this is an ongoing journey. We never get it done. I will be learning from my experiences and pushing more and more boundaries as I ride my life to the end. It’s not about fame or being famous. It’s about being yourself and unapologetically sharing your voice with the world. When you are genuine and don’t carry a chip on your shoulder, you will bring authenticity and love to the world through your art and everything you put out there. So I urge you to go for it because the world needs more artists sharing their creative badassery with the planet.

I’m such a cool magnet that I attracted this coolness… She’s SO cool.

You can take my word for it… cause, you know… I’m like, cool. The kids are still saying that right?

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Human Connection Is Everything

Last week was something of a blur. With everything going on lately, I frequently walk into rooms and forget where I am. I’m also guessing at what day of the week it is because I honestly don’t know. Our exhibition has been extended. We are working on commissions, trying to remodel the third floor (our bedroom), hosting guests, recording an audiobook, practicing for a concert, and figuring out how to create clones of ourselves. 

Have you ever had one of those days that felt like you were moving at the speed of light? This week (or month, I have no sense of time) has felt like that. 

However, some moments stand out—moments of connection where time slows down. As two “Artroverts,” Klee and I spend a lot of time hidden away in our studio, where we express ourselves through our creations. These creations will connect us with humans when we put them out there. Some may glance, listen, or read it and scoff. Some may ignore it, but some will connect. Some will even feel inspired to reach out to us; thus, the connection comes full circle.  

Robin came all the way from Kansas and hung out with us at the gallery. This was our first time meeting him in person. He is an amazing human and we were so happy for this opportunity!

Because we are very public on the internet, we get to connect with people from all over the world. This is something that still surprises me. I tend to forget that Klee and I are public personalities. This is because the reality is that we are total nerds. We are both socially awkward and weird. Yet, people from around the world have connected with who we are even though we may have never met in person. I think this is a beautiful thing.

Putting yourself out there and making human connections will always require being brave and taking chances. Engaging in conversation with someone new can be intimidating. Many creative folks are shy and would tweeze their nose hair out rather than start a conversation with a stranger. However, if you put yourself out there, you will have to step out of your comfort zone despite the nerves.

Something magical happens when you connect with someone in a conversation many miss because they are too scared to go for it. 

Darren drove in from Ohio and spent some time with us at the gallery and we had some really awesome conversation.

Listen, Klee, and I know what it feels like to be so painfully shy. Every time we put ourselves out there, we are pushing through a comfort zone. It’s gotten a little easier over the years, but the fear never really goes away. That being said, we keep certain things in mind when choosing to go public with our awkwardness.

Choose the things you like. It is easier to engage in a conversation when surrounded by people with similar interests. If you love reading, join a book club. If you create art, volunteer to teach an art class. Put yourself in an environment where YOU are comfortable. Talk about what you enjoy. Don’t jump on subjects because they are common or popular unless you are genuinely interested in them.

Embrace rejection for what it is. Everyone is not for everyone. You may click with some and not so much with others. Introverts tend to feel like they are on trial. You are not. You don’t need to gather friends, just people you connect with. If a conversation doesn’t jive, don’t blame yourself. It just means there was no connection. If someone rejects you, then it means they have no business being in your life anyhow.

Heather and Steve visited Oil City During their cross country trip and we spent a great time together. This was our first time meeting in person and it was awesome!

Be yourself. It is exhausting to try and be anything other than yourself. You don’t have to be anyone else to make a connection. Just be yourself and connect with your people. 

Have fun. I think we can quickly turn meeting people into a serious act for many of us. The truth is, if you make it no fun and are not having fun, then why do it? 

Be vulnerable. Don’t put up an act. Allow yourself to be more vulnerable. Don’t drop filters or boundaries, but don’t curate a version of yourself that is not you.

The Kirkman’s came in from Cayman Islands and spend a few days with us. This was our first time meeting and it was like hanging out with old friends.

These moments are magical. These moments only happen if you allow yourself to be who YOU are. Last week, we connected with some unique humans. Some traveled quite a distance to meet us. This is bravery, and we are so happy to have had the opportunity to share that time with them. This is what it is all about. This is the stuff of life.

Over the years, we have extended our Rogue family of creative humans across the globe only because we treasure our connection to them. In a world where everyone is chasing fame, likes, an algorithm, or money, I think it is important to remember that we are all human. We are all connected. We all cry, laugh, get stressed, jump for joy, and do our best in life. Our humanness and humanity are what can bring us together. It is also what has the most value.

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HI! We’re STILL Here! You Can’t Get Rid Of Us!

Klee and I are still at it! We have taken over Graffiti Gallery and we are not ready to let it go! That’s right! We are extending our show through September in Oil City at 210 Seneca St, Oil City, PA 16301.

Rafi and Klee are both extending their shenanigans at Graffiti Gallery in Oil City PA. They are showcasing all the art they love to create. This includes paintings, jewelry, sculptures, books, music, and more. They also want to invite creatives and forward thinkers to come out the first weekend in September and discuss where we are all heading in this amazing town and ways to get there. Come and find a retrospective of Rafi Perez’s paintings, sculptures, and Klee Angelie’s jewelry and creations. Come hang out and talk about life, listen to music, look at some art, and have a blast. The show runs through the month of September on Fridays from 4-7 and Saturdays from 11am-2pm. The gallery will also be open for private appointments, contact Rafi and Klee to schedule your private tour.

The show will run through September and each day will feature art creations and fun. The show is meant to inspire and delight and we plan to have a lot of fun while we are there. We look forward to meeting the amazing people of this community!

Sept 2nd (4pm-7pm) and 3rd (11am-2pm) – The Rogue Artist Book Readings And Discussions About Revitalization.

Come and meet Rafi and Klee at their first two month long art exhibition in their new town. Enjoy art, jewelry, music, and more at the exhibition’s extended run. Drinks and a fun atmosphere will be provided. Come ready to have a good time and talk about being a rogue! Rafi will read his favorite passages from his books throughout the day, he will also talk about their efforts in the revitalization and plans for their beloved town of Oil City and the region. If you are a rogue and are excited about this area please be there. The biggest enemy of innovation and progress is apathy, but there is a way to combat it and move forward despite the challenges. They will also hold a question and answer and brainstorm session throughout the talk. He will also sign books if asked throughout the day.

FACEBOOK EVENT – https://fb.me/e/3BxjPi2hk


Sept 9th (4pm-7pm) and 10th (11am-2pm) – Live Paintings And Creations Throughout The Day.

Come out and spend some time with Rafi and Klee and experience art experimentations and creations. Including but not limited to live painting, jewelry, and music writing. Enjoy conversations about their travels, art, and why they moved to this amazing area and their plans moving forward. Also, Rafi will be demonstrating painting on his spinning easel throughout the days and creating something special for his new home town that will be given away to a lucky winner at the end of the exhibition run. Come in and get a free raffle ticket.

FACEBOOK EVENT – https://fb.me/e/4BZjM1CSH


Sept 16th (4pm-7pm) and 17th (11am-2pm) – Music Concert – RAFI’S REDEMPTION TOUR!

Our Band Is Called Better On The Drums

Enjoy some art and some great conversation and some music practice during the day. Rafi experienced his first live performance and botched it the whole way through (well, that’s how he feels) and is hoping to make a strong comeback and blow the minds of anyone there brave enough to listen. The concert will start on Friday at 5pm and Saturday at 12pm. This laid back concert will be like hanging out with two friends while they sing and play guitar. 

This will be the second time ever that we perform as “Better On The Drums” our new band. Witness Rafi be nervous again on stage… or will he be?

FACEBOOK EVENT – https://fb.me/e/24wcIoMrY


Sept 23rd (3pm-8pm) and 24th (11am-2pm) – Let’s Get Uncorked! And Finally Say Goodbye.

Enjoy some art and great conversation during the day and come downtown for the wine walk. They say people love buying art when they enjoy wine so we are hoping to capitalize on the phenomenon. Well maybe. However, you know what else works with wine? Great conversation! This will also be the final weekend of the show (we promise) and we’ll be saying goodbye.

FACEBOOK EVENT – https://fb.me/e/2AqXKuGFP

More About Oil City Uncorked

Oil City Uncorked Happens on Friday, September 22, 4:30 – 8:30 pm in downtown Oil City (north side business district). Sample from 10 regional wineries (plus a sprinkle of spirits & brews) located at various host businesses within walking distance! Participating vendors: Allegheny Cellars Winery, Black Dog Wine Company, Cart/Horse Distilling, Country Hammer Moonshine, Deer Creek Winery, Emlenton Brew Haus, Fat Chad’s Brewing, Fractured Grape/Novosell LLC, Groundhog Winery, Happy Hour Winery, Starr Hill Vineyard & Winery, Twisted Vine, Two Birch Winery, Webb Winery, and The Winery at Wilcox. 

Light refreshments will be available at host businesses, plus downtown restaurants will be open for regular dining. Souvenir tasting glass included with ticket. Oil City Uncorked is for ages 21 & over, valid ID required on event day. Tickets are available online through this link (processing fees apply), at the Oil City Library, 2 Central Avenue, and at Core Goods (starting 8/31/22), 219 Seneca Street. Proceeds benefit the downtown revitalization efforts of the Oil City Main Street Program.


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Audiobooks, Book Fairs, And Deadlines… Oh My!

I am currently recording audiobooks and wanted to reflect on something I think is important for the creative mind. I also want to update everyone that has supported my books and is waiting on the two audiobooks I’m working on. So if your jam is a dose of inspiration and an update, then read on!

It’s been quite the adventure to become a published author. Over the last few years, I have released three books, a workbook, and an audiobook. All this while juggling this crazy journey called life. Since September 26th, 2020 when I announced that I would be releasing my second book, you have been on a whirlwind adventure with me.

  • Since that time, we have experienced:
  • The emotional aspects of writing a marketing book during a pandemic.
  • Navigated supply shortages.
  • A hurricane.
  • Power outages for weeks.
  • A fungus gnat invasion.
  • A thumb drive and several hard drives crashing with essential notes.
  • Loss of internet for weeks.
  • Holiday art commission overwhelm.
  • The stress of several large solo art exhibitions.
  • Dealing with a leak that destroyed our studio.
  • An epic journey to find a house, and we did!
  • Moving across the country in a terrifying Uhaul.
  • Art studio shutdowns.
  • Losing money to a conman.
  • Plumbing issues.
  • Spending more money than we are comfortable with on repairs.
  • Getting used to cold winters and shoveling snow again.
  • More plumbing issues.
  • Lack of sleep.
  • Fatigue from moving, repairs, and stress, while trying to juggle everything.
  • Burnout.
  • Scrapping 6 hours of audiobook recordings because I sound like a robot.
  • And acclimating to our new life.

I know most of this sounds like a terrible time, but honestly, I’m just listing the things that happen in life. In between and even during a lot of this craziness, there was a lot more good. A lot of laughter, overcoming, and persistence to remember that life doesn’t have to be all sunshine and roses to be remarkable. It is what you make it. The truth is, everyone is on their own odyssey and confronting the things that challenge them. However, not everyone gets to share it with fabulous people. And for that, I want to thank you. Thank you for sticking with me on this journey of ups and downs.

I think the most important thing to remember when having our ups and downs is that it is easy to remember things as the cause of unhappiness. This makes the less than great event stand out as an example of what your life is like. In reality, every moment is an opportunity to show yourself what you are capable of. You can either face a challenge with joy and determination, or let it eat you alive. Once you experience that, you show yourself that you are unstoppable. So, you continue moving forward on your journey instead of letting it come to a halt. We will be on the journey for the rest of our lives, so we might as well be the champions that we are.

I now ask that you continue the journey with me a little longer. Unfortunately, I will not be able to release the audiobooks for the marketing book or money book by September 5th as I hoped. As much as I wanted to meet that deadline, it will not work for me. To not experience burnout again (as I promised myself and many of you), I have decided to extend the deadline to the beginning of November 2022. I may get it done earlier, and if that happens, I will make an exciting announcement. However, I am taking my time with this project because I want it to sound conversational like my last audiobook and not like someone trying to rush through a book. Thank you for your continued patience.

This weekend, I will be doing my first book fair, and I am both nervous (silly brain jar) and excited. We also have an extensive art exhibition running right now that has been extended through September. If you happen to be in Oil City, the fair is called: The Annual Oil Region Festival of the Book and will be on Saturday, August 27, 2022 from 10am-2pm. The Festival will be held in the Central Avenue Plaza in Oil City, PA (right outside the Oil City Library!).

We will then be at Graffiti Gallery from 2pm – 6pm, showing our art and doing a giveaway of sorts.

Thank you all so much for your love and support. You have been so supportive. I have received so many comments from you about the books and how much they mean to you. Thank you. In those times when it feels like the shit is hitting the fan, it is inspiring to know that what I share has a place in your heart and mind.

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I Can’t Seem To Find Time For Art

Artists will contact us every once in a while telling us they have no time to create art. Between house chores, work, and taking care of someone else’s needs, they find themselves at odds with what they want. They explain how they feel guilty even thinking about taking creative time. That guilt is compounded when the people around them think that creating art doesn’t matter. This guilt and perception can add a lot of undue stress which will lead to less creating.

It’s funny to me that the perception exists in the world that says that artists don’t do anything important. Some people believe that our lives are stuffed with unicorn farts and rainbow ice cream. It’s been an insane couple of years for us. We’ve had a few large art exhibitions, commissions, power outages, bad weather, art studio closures, moving across the country, and don’t even get me started on water leaks or plumbing. We’ve also dealt with butt hurt friends, rejection, financial struggles, and all other manner of emotionally draining events. Things always felt worse when I didn’t give myself the space to create. 

I’ll be honest, as much as I hate to admit it, some of it has been stressful. Not because things go wrong. That’s just life. We all know that the shit will hit the fan at some point just to keep us on our toes. 

No, it’s not the events or circumstances that happen in life that bring me stress. In actuality, it is the crap that goes on in my brain that stresses me out. It’s the excuses I use to not create or do what I want. Klee and I do a lot of stuff that we consider fun. We make art, jewelry, film videos, play music, design t-shirts, manage an online community of awesome rogue artists, write books, and record podcasts. We do whatever we think will be fun. We also do all the things that people consider not as much fun. Things like managing our business, yard work, house repairs, and other domestic arts (as one of the Rogues called it). Add to that all the different components that come with life, relationship, home, and work, and it can all feel overwhelming. 

However, it’s just life. It’s every moment. And moments are precious. But, art is what allows me to process it all.

One thing I like to remind myself of is that overwhelm is not what is going on around you, but what you think your role is in what is happening. Honestly, it is reminding yourself that you can just walk away or say no. It’s easy to feel like things would fall apart without you, but trust me, things probably feel like they’re falling apart anyhow. 

On the flipside, it is also ok to say yes. It’s also ok to say you don’t want to do something any more… I mean, it’s your life, you get to choose how you want to live it. 

Now, if you do happen to do a million things, and can’t find time for what you want, here are some best practices for you that I have learned the hard way.

STAY POSITIVE AND CREATE

Don’t get wrapped up in the humble brag that you are the busiest person in the world. It is easy to exclaim to the world that you are the busiest human on the planet. I’m not saying you are not, but constantly repeating that mantra for yourself can have some bad results. Tell yourself that you have a choice on how you decide to spend your time. You may make a lot of excuses on why you can’t find time to create when you are wrapped up in your drama, but there is always time if you decide there is. Even 30 minutes of creating is better than no minutes.

HAVE SOME KIND OF PLAN

I hate planning things. I hate schedules. I hate when a past version of me writes something down telling me I need to do something. Why didn’t he do it? That being said, when you are juggling a lot, it is important to make a plan and space it out. Honestly, each day should have no more than four large tasks. If you have more than that, you will run yourself into the ground. However, plan the things you want to do and make it sacred. That means that NO ONE has the right to guilt you out of your plans. It is not selfish for you to want to create, it is selfish of others to monopolize your time and keep you from doing what you want in life.

DON’T JUST SAY YES

It’s ok to say no. You gotta take care of yourself. Also, if you can’t finish something in time, just get it done when you can. Don’t kill yourself to finish it. People might expect things and it might be time to introduce them to a word that they may have not heard from you yet. 

THE DISHES CAN WAIT

Honestly, when it comes to doing dishes or creating art, art will win every time. Also, if there are more than one of you in your household, it might be time for other people to pitch in and ease up time for you. 

COMPLETE AT LEAST 1 THING A DAY

You can be busy all day, from phone calls to finalizing a large project. However, forming the habit of working on art every day is important. Try to complete something, It doesn’t matter what it is, it can be a quick sketch, just give yourself a sense of completion. 

FOCUS ON ONE THING AT A TIME

People out there love to say that they are great at multitasking. They are full of it. The brain isn’t designed for that. You can jump between projects when you are at a standstill, but even then, shift your thinking and focus on what is in front of you. This is why meditation is important, because it helps you build that focusing muscle. Also, have a space that will not be interrupted with other things. 

MAKE IT ALL FUN

Bring your creativity back. At the end of the day, It should all be fun. Why not? Sometimes, you won’t be able to work on art, and that is ok if you are used to giving yourself that creative time. This weekend we have a lot on our plate. I will be doing my first book fair at the Oil City Library from 10-2PM, then heading to Graffiti Gallery and sitting our show from 2-6PM. This is followed by a friend’s birthday party. Meanwhile, we have a million things that we are juggling at home. It is easy to forget that it is all delicious if you feel like a martyr. When you take control and give yourself time for what you want, you remember that you have a choice. It’s easy to use excuses for why you “HAVE” to do something, but at the end of the day, it is our choice. You will feel better making time for other people and stuff if you make time for yourself when you want it.

TELL SOME PEOPLE TO BACK OFF

People can get really used to you being the one who takes care of everything. Humans are habitual creatures and whenever something happens often, it is easy for it to become the norm. I’ve even experienced people feeling entitled and getting mad at me because I didn’t want to hang out due to my art. Either put people like that in their place or get rid of them.

I’m going to say something very grim sounding but it was important for me to hear when I was killing myself with overwhelm.

“The world will keep going if YOU are not around cleaning up messes and juggling a million things. The people who rely on you would figure it out one way or another.”

If you are stretching yourself too thin, it might be time to reevaluate. This might require you to tell someone you are no longer going to do something for them. It’s hard, but you have to take care of you before you take care of someone else’s needs, or else you are useless to them and yourself. 

So, take care of yourself.

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Sometimes You Just Have To Go For It

Many people assume that I am what you call an “extrovert” and that everything I do in public comes easily. They may think this because they watch me rambling in videos or go out in town wearing a sandwich board to promote our exhibition. The truth is, I am painfully shy and would rather crawl under a heavy rock than put myself out there. That said, I’ve gotten better at managing my anxiety about publicly engaging in embarrassment over the years. 

Look at that silly guy!

Klee has a saying, “The remedy for fear of doing the thing is to do the thing until you’re not afraid anymore.” 

Obviously, it’s not easy. Your mind can quickly spiral downward into worst-case scenarios, and your body will betray you in ways that can be embarrassing. Trust me. Gas bubbles are no joke. However, the choice is simple for me. Either you face the fear, or you run away from it. 

Today, I will face an irrational fear I have carried with me for years. Singing on stage is one of those things I have always wanted to do but could not bring myself to do it. Sure, I have played guitar in front of a group of people a few times and have even had my knees give out from anxiety, but singing is a whole other ball of wax. 

So, how do you face fear when it can be paralyzing? I don’t know, but I can tell you what I do.

Shift Your Focus. Whenever I am doing something that scares me, I try not to allow myself to overthink myself and my fear. That’s where your mind will go into fight or flight. I think about why I’m doing it or the combination of why. For example, with music, I want to challenge myself to do the thing so I can prove to myself I can. It doesn’t matter if I screw it up. What matters is that I did it. The other thing I focus on is bringing something of value and not running away from who I am.

Understand That Things Might Go Wrong. Back in the day, before I even attempted to do anything that was in public, I would ruminate on it going wrong. Our mind tends to want to protect us from embarrassing moments, so it will bombard you with things that will dissuade you from doing something that scares you. The truth is, things might go wrong. So what? Those moments, you either roll with it and laugh or fall apart. Tonight, I know I will screw up a few times, and how I deal with it is what matters.

Know That Self Doubt Is The Challenge. We all have insecurities. Honestly, things changed for me when I stopped focusing on what people thought about me and more on what I thought about myself. The truth is, no one cares if you screw up. We tend to worry that people will hate what we do or call us names, but ultimately it is YOU thinking the thoughts. When I play music tonight, I know the people are there to support me. If anyone is a hater, that says more about them than me, and they can eat a bag. 

It’s A Muscle Thing. Many of us will have a physical reaction to stress. Your body may get jittery, and you may experience shortness of breath. Fight or flight does exciting things to us, but it is only a physical response. It’s not reality. I know my body will freak out tonight, and that’s ok. Deep breathing, relaxation exercises, and a quick meditation may not make it go away, but at least I’ll have something else to focus on. 

Just Have Fun. Most importantly, I must constantly remind myself that the experience will be whatever I say it is. No matter how it goes tonight, I can walk away from this feeling empowered and better for it, or the opposite. It’s up to me.

Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide what your experience will be, not your fear.

As for now, I am preparing my equipment and getting ready for our concert tonight. If you happen to be in Oil City and want to watch me screw up on stage, you are welcome to come to Graffiti Gallery on 8-12-2022 for our concert at 5 PM EDT. We will be there talking about our art from 3 PM – 7 PM.  Luckily for me, Klee shares the stage with me and she is AWESOME!

There will be delicious EMPANADAS prepared by our beautiful and talented friend Nessacraft (who you can follow because she is incredible). What are empanadas, you ask? Empanadas are a Puerto Rican pastry turnover filled with savory ingredients that are either baked or fried and DELICIOUS! This is the awesome human who is making them. 

I’ll also do a book reading the next day at 4 PM (we’ll be at the gallery from 12 PM – 6 PM). Surprisingly, I’m not scared of that at all. 

Have a fabulous weekend!

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What If Things Go Wrong At Your Art Event?

This weekend was our first significant art exhibition and reception in our new town in Oil City, Pennsylvania. The reception was a blast. We had so many people come out and support us that it almost made me want to break down into a pile of tears of appreciation. That being said, everything wasn’t bursts of sunshine and unicorn farts. 

Picture Taken By The Raw Image

Any artist you speak to will tell you that putting together a show is both a logistical and emotional challenge. Add in the efforts to promote and prep for a show, and it can feel like a nightmare. Now, to be clear, our show was a wonderful experience, but I would be lying if I said that everything went according to plan. If you are doing ANYTHING like this, there is one guarantee… No matter what you do, it is inevitable that some things will not work out the way you wish.

So what went wrong?

  • As incredible as we were received at the reception, the weather was hot outside, and that trickled into our very full gallery. This meant that it was hot in the gallery to the point that it was unbearable. 
  • People were there to meet us and check out the art. Ideally, at an art show, you have tags by your art describing the work and price. I left a stack of 30 tags on a table instead of on the wall. It was so hot that the 80 tags I did manage to put on the wall were curling and falling off. 
  • At an exhibition, you also want to put out a guest book to keep a record of the show. Ours was sitting at home and not being written in at all. 
  • Finally, I didn’t take any pictures at our reception, nor did I film much, so I didn’t document the incredible turnout. To add to the issues, we were missing a part needed for our cell booster and could not live stream the event as we promised. 

So what do you do in those situations that don’t go quite the way you wanted them to?

You roll with the punches. 

Klee and I have done over 600 shows in our decade-long career as artists, and the one thing that will always happen is something will go wrong. Conditions change in the blink of an eye, or you forget something. The key is not getting stuck there and changing your course of action quickly. Here’s what we keep in mind when things go wrong.

1. Focus on what you can control.

We couldn’t control the weather, but we could make the most of it. Yes, it was hot, but a cold drink and good conversation will always make it a little more interesting. There was no point in stressing about the heat or lack of internet. We were in the show. Our focus was to mingle and have a good time with the people who supported us. We set up fans as best we could and decided to cancel the live stream and fix the issue once we were done with reception weekend. It isn’t great, but you must carry on and make the most of it. 

2. Don’t get stuck in what is going wrong.

Listen, things will go wrong. It’s just the nature of things, but that is ok. Things going wrong don’t define who you are, but how you deal with it does. You get to choose who you want to be in those challenging moments and that is what ultimately matters.

3. Make decisions and follow through.

In situations like these, time isn’t going to stop and allow you to figure it out. Could you make a choice and go with it? Whether it is right or wrong is a moot point. At the moment, all you can do is make a choice, and hemming and hawing will not get you closer to a good decision when it feels like things are falling apart. Consult someone you trust if you are stuck, but don’t blame them when it goes wrong because ultimately, it was your choice and the best choice at the time.

4. If something is complicated or overwhelming, admit it.

Sometimes, the only way to move forward is to admit defeat. If it is too much, instead of blowing up or falling apart, just admit it. Open your mouth and say, “I’m getting overwhelmed? What can I do to make this simple?” and go from there. What matters most in this situation is that you are not a ball of stress. Also, let people help if they ask. Our friend Jim and his mom made finger foods for us, which were wonderful. It was also very much needed since Klee, and I just didn’t have enough time to focus on food.

5. Trust your gut and don’t overthink it. 

Pay attention to that feeling you get in your gut. We have it for a reason. When facing a challenge and you have a choice to make, evaluate how you feel about the situation. Is it a good feeling? Are you feeling wary? Don’t ignore how you feel.

6. When it all goes to crap, don’t shut down.

Don’t give up. Just keep going. Pivot, change directions, simplify, or salvage, but don’t stop moving.

Picture Taken By The Raw Image

7. Learn in hindsight.

Later on, when you are thinking about it, ask yourself, “how could I have done that better?” then make a plan for the future. The first event that Klee and I put together was trash compared to what it is now. Honestly, everything builds on prior experience, and we will never get it entirely right. That is ok. That is life. It is a waste of time feeling like you failed because it didn’t work out perfectly. Use your time and energy learning from experience and not berating yourself. 

8. Stay positive.

It’s easy to get pessimistic when it is all falling apart. Every opportunity is a chance to prove to yourself (not others) how much of a badass you are. This is especially true when things go wrong. So, when it goes to crap, remember, “well, this will be a learning experience,” and then give yourself a good laugh and allow yourself to get out of your head and have fun. 

Next time I’ll have some things on my list I may have overlooked, but this is the stuff of life, and I love it. Thank you so much to everyone that came out for the reception. The exhibition will run for the month of August and we have many things planned.

I may not have filmed much, but our friend over at The Raw Image did. Check out this awesomeness!

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Live Your Life Your Way

Life is an exciting roller coaster for creative people trying to make a living with their creativity. The truth is, it is not an easy road. No matter how long you manage to make it work, you will run into a few hiccups here and there. With the internet today, there is a lot of advice for artists, some good, some bad, and some that are just complete bullcrap. Klee and I have a YouTube channel, a podcast, resources, we put art shows together, and published books meant to help those creative souls. Still, none of that is going to make the journey easy. In fact, our road isn’t all unicorn farts and rainbows.

The fact of the matter is that life is an ever-evolving and complicated thing. We recently moved, had to do repairs, and are currently in a rat race to get caught up both emotionally and financially. It is easy to feel like everything is not going how you want it to go, especially when you are waiting for a check to come in the mail and it never shows up. However, life is also wonderful, but even the most seasoned artists can make things complicated. We all know how to move forward without allowing stress to take over. The problem is that knowing is not doing.

Even though we all know what is truly best for us, we don’t always follow that path. It will eventually come back and bite you in the butt. My recent experience with burnout is a great example. Instead of enjoying the ride and making the most of it, I was allowing my days to get consumed by worry. This caused a downward spiral that I don’t wish on anyone. 

Let’s be honest, worry doesn’t accomplish anything. It hinders your ability to move forward. In my case, it zapped my creativity, caused me to make poor choices, and didn’t allow me to see blaring red flags. This road is difficult enough, and being worried makes it almost impossible to navigate. 

So, what do you do? 

Stop thinking, and start doing. Clear your mind of all the bull and put one foot in front of the other until you get your joy back. Focus on what you appreciate and not what is going wrong. I know, it sounds like some crap that some self-help guru might be trying to pawn off on you, but it is true. You are either paralyzed by worry or striding forward and not giving a rip. 

Here are mantras I take action on when I find myself in a creative slump or a downward spiral.

My priorities are mine, and I’m not in charge of anybody else’s priorities.

Just get up and do it, whatever “IT” is.

Take 10 minutes daily to clear your mind and focus on what is going right.

Slow down. Enjoy your food and focus on every single bite.

Surround yourself with people who inspire you.

Everything is possible. Spend at least ten minutes focused on that.

Don’t spend your time “repairing” relationships blindly. Evaluate and move on if you have to.

Get boots on the ground, and stop thinking and planning.

Put yourself out there and enjoy the process.

Create art, practice, experiment, and make a mess.

Don’t wallow on what went wrong. Look for the lesson and move on.

Agree to disagree and move on. Stop trying to win the argument.

Enjoy the moment, every moment. Life is happening right now.

Share moments with people you love.

Take five minutes to stop and breathe deeply throughout the day.

Define your own success and screw what anyone else thinks.

Live for the moments, not what you own.

Love the badass that looks back at you in the mirror.

Take ownership of your life, it’s not up to anyone else what you do.

Don’t get desperate, and do not make choices while feeling desperate.

Practice listening to your gut. 

Look at your life like it is your most significant art in progress.

Sure, the journey might be arduous, but you can make it whatever you want it to be. What’s holding you back from making it fun? Are you waiting for other people to take you seriously? Are you waiting for someone to do it for you? Only you are responsible for your life. Only you can make the choice to keep talking or start doing it. Live your life the way you want to live. 

If you do nothing, nothing happens.

It will not happen overnight, and if you have a habit of stressing out all the time, you will try and sabotage yourself to return to that status quo. However, only you can take yourself out of that pattern and embrace the awesomeness that is you.

Don’t wait around. Don’t hope that someone saves you. Just pick yourself up and do it. Getting yourself past self-sabotage is the hard part. This is the struggle. It is not what you might have blamed in the past. It’s not the things that went wrong, or the people who made things harder. It is you who needs to take responsibility for your life and how you want to live. 

Success isn’t about fame, fortune, subscribers, likes, or anything outside of you. It’s about being who YOU want to be. Living the life YOU want to live, and feeling how YOU want to feel.

So go out and live it.

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HI! We’re New Here! Rafi And Klee Exhibition

Klee and I are doing something we have never done before and are so excited. Mark your calendars and prepare for an Art-stravaganza that will knock your socks off. The kick-off will be on August 5th, with the reception from 6 pm – 8 pm EDT at Graffiti Gallery in Oil City at 210 Seneca St, Oil City, PA 16301.

Rafi and Klee will both be showcasing the art that they love to create. Come and find a retrospective of Rafi Perez’s paintings, sculptures, and Klee Angelie’s jewelry and creations. You will also experience never before seen art from Rafi and Klee’s stash of works that have never been displayed anywhere.

The show will run through August and each day will feature art creations and new facets of us that we have never performed live. The show is meant to inspire and delight and we plan to have a lot of fun while we are there. We look forward to meeting the amazing people of this community! We will also live stream certain parts of the event for our online family of Rogue Artists!

Facebook Main Event Page https://fb.me/e/4WljdSFfG

Facebook Music Event (See Below For Date) https://fb.me/e/3LajhQU4i

Facebook Author Meeting Rogue Event (See Below For Date) https://fb.me/e/20Wqbx08t

Show Dates And Events Are As Follows:

We have special things planned for each week of the month of August at Graffiti Gallery in Oil City and also online.

August 5th, 6PM – 8PM EDT – Exhibition Reception (Food and Drinks Will Be Provided)

Come and meet Rafi and Klee at their first art exhibition in their new town. Enjoy art, jewelry, music, and more at the exhibition’s opening reception. Delicious food, drinks, and a fun atmosphere will be provided. Come ready to have a good time. They will be holding the exhibition in August. Visit their event page for more information on the dates and times of the event for concerts, book readings, and art talks. Official Event Page https://wp.me/p1XVFv-qqd

Facebook Main Event Page https://fb.me/e/4WljdSFfG


August 6th, 12PM – 6PM EDT – Meet Rafi And Klee. Music And Art Creation Throughout The Day.

Come out and spend some time with Rafi and Klee and experience art experimentations and creations. Including but not limited to painting, jewelry, and music writing. Enjoy conversations about their travels, art, and why they moved to this amazing area. 

Live Stream On YouTube Of Show August 6th, 1PM – 2PM EDT (Will post link and announce across all social media)


August 12th, 3PM – 7PM EDT – Meet Rafi And Klee. Music Concert At 5PM – 6PM (New Never Before Heard Songs)

Our Band Is Called Better On The Drums

Enjoy some art and some great conversation during the day and enjoy some never before performed music in the evening. This laid back concert will be like hanging out with two friends while they sing and play guitar. 

This will be the first time ever that we perform as “Better On The Drums” our new band. Witness Rafi be nervous on stage lol. 

Live Stream On YouTube Of Music August 12th, 5PM – 6PM EDT (Will post link and announce across all social media)

Facebook Music Event https://fb.me/e/3LajhQU4i


August 13th, 12PM – 6PM EDT – Meet Rafi And Klee. Meet The Author Book Readings And Signings At 4PM – 5PM.

Enjoy some art and great conversation during the day and some book readings in the evening. Rafi will read his favorite passages from his books and hold a question and answer. He will also sign books if asked.

Live Stream On YouTube Of Book Reading And Q&A August 13th, 4PM – 5PM EDT (Will post link and announce across all social media)

Facebook Author Meeting Rogue Event https://fb.me/e/20Wqbx08t


August 19th, 4PM – 8PM EDT & August 20th, 12PM – 6PM EDT – Meet Rafi And Klee. Bridge Fest Weekend.

Come out and enjoy the two day event of Bridgefest in Oil City! Meet Rafi And Klee and a bunch of other amazing artists. Bridge Fest Weekend. Bridge Fest is Friday, August 19 (4-9 pm, Center Street Bridge, sponsored by the Oil City Main Street Program): live entertainment, DJ, food vendors; face painting & other kid’s activities, artisan vendors & more. Saturday August 20 (4-9 pm, Veterans Memorial Bridge, sponsored by the Oil City Arts Council): live music; food and artisan vendors; beer & wine tent. Each bridge will be pedestrian-only, closed to vehicles prior to and during its respective event… park downtown and stroll freely! Come and see us inside Graffiti Gallery.

Live Stream On YouTube Of Show August 20th, 5PM – 7PM EDT We’ll Walk Around With You. (Will post link and announce across all social media)


August 27th, 12PM – 6PM EDT – Meet Rafi And Klee. Final Day Of Show And Giveaways.

This is the final day of our exhibition! We will be hanging out talking about art, life, and anywhere else the conversations take us. We will also be doing some giveaways that day as a big thank you to everyone that came to our exhibition.

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Where Inspiration Comes From

People often ask me, “What inspires you and your art?” At that moment, people expect me to say something like “Picasso, Warhol, or Dali.”

Although the great masters of the past inspire me, their art doesn’t inspire me at all.

Oh, sure, I may grab some ideas from here or there because I find something fascinating in the art. However, when it comes to inspiration, the things that inspire me have more to do with life than the products of life.

Let me explain.

What we create always comes from inside of us. It comes from that place where we absorb the world around us. It’s the stuff of life. Although just about every creative endeavor you witness expresses the artist’s journey, it is their interpretation. In fact, when you resonate with a work of art, it is because you have written your own narrative for it. It’s a beautiful thing. At that moment, the art becomes a collaboration between you and the artist. Ultimately, the artist sees one thing, and you may see something totally different. You see an image that may symbolize a moment in time in your life, but you can never really put yourself in the artist’s shoes. The art then becomes something even more powerful and transcends into synergy.

Recently Klee and I took a long road trip to Illinois for my daughter’s wedding. It had been two years or even longer, since we had seen anyone in the family (due to the year that shall not be named, and pandemic).

We were excited. That being said, there was also a good amount of mental preparation. Obviously, anyone with a family knows that sometimes you will have to deal with some quirkiness that is unique to your family dynamic.

Those things, those conversations, those smiles, those interactions, those quiet conversations, those heated moments, that laughter, the sadness, and all of it, are part of the stuff of life. All of it is part of what inspires us. These are the things that can knock us down or pick us up. These are the things that show us the lessons of who we are or what we want to be. These things allow us to overcome or fall flat on our faces.

These are the things that inspire my art.

It’s not Picasso’s art. It’s Picasso’s life that I’m fascinated by. Art is simply an expression of how he looked at the world. How ANY artist sees the world. It is merely an expression of how they saw the things that we can all take for granted.

In this world of hustle and being busy, it’s easy to let life pass us by. It’s easy to forget the little moments. It’s easy to look at the destination and forget the journey altogether.

Inspiration surrounds us. It comes from those moments of overcoming. It comes from those moments of absolute joy, and it comes from those moments of heartache. This is what inspires innovation and creativity. Many of us believe that we have to think our way through things. That we have to figure this or that out. But in reality, thinking doesn’t really get us anywhere. Usually, we exhaust ourselves by overthinking and take a break from it, that’s when feelings finally get their say and the solution comes to us. This is inspiration.

Feelings are powerful. Most people try to suppress or hide their feelings, yet feelings express our ultimate truth. So, if you’ve ever been taught to hide your feelings, it means that you’ve been taught to hide who you are, your authentic self, and the way you process and see the world. We have been led to believe that our feelings make us vulnerable, yet only in that vulnerability can we find our strength. It takes vulnerability to truly fall in love with life, yourself, and other humans.

Ultimately, at the end of the day, the things that inspire me are the things that I get to experience. Only because I allowed myself to be there fully in my feelings and not question the moment with brain chatter.

Things like watching my beautiful daughter walk down the aisle. That is a lovely moment in time. That is something that will inspire my art. In fact, I’m planning on creating work specifically for them based on my interpretation of that beautiful day.

There are so many things in life that we can focus on. I feel like sometimes we’re trained to focus on the things that really, ultimately, at the end of the day, don’t matter. What really matters is the fact that right now, you are breathing.

You are experiencing life and feeling your way through it right now.

So if your focus is on something that ultimately doesn’t matter, that may mean you’re stuck in your head.

I suggest just being out of your mind. That is where I like to spend most of my time. There’s no better place to be for true inspiration.