You Were Born A Creative Genius… Really.

When I was born, I was so surprised that I didn’t even talk for a whole year and a half. During that time, no one knew the creativity that was waiting to burst out from my drooling tiny lump of a body. The truth was set free the day I discovered markers and scribbled my art on every surface I could find.

If you want to be creative, do it. Forget the prejudice that creativity is saved for the select few. We are all creative, it’s just a matter of understanding where creativity comes from. We are ALL born with it… It’s definitely not Maybelline.

Rafi The Beardo

Honestly, if you’re not feeling creative, the simple fact is that you unlearned creativity, by following rules and being well behaved. No, I’m not saying you have to be an anarchist, but I remember my grade school teacher telling me that I couldn’t draw on or in my folders and notebooks. In my mind I was like “You don’t own these, they’re mine, I can do what I want.” If I hadn’t had that mentality I wouldn’t have gotten so much practice drawing and sketching while my teacher droned on about stuff I wouldn’t remember years later.

Listen, before you complain, I had a lot of teachers who were passionate and had my attention during class… I love those teachers and their classes were memorable, but I also had some crappy teachers who shouldn’t be allowed to mold the minds of young children into the mush they were shoveling.

Me Teaching, Hopefully I’m not Shoveling Mush

Creativity can be learned or unlearned, but no matter what, you were born creative. In 1968, Dr. Land tested the creativity of 1,600 children. He re-tested the same children at 10 years of age and again at 15. The results were astounding.

  • Test results amongst 5 year olds: 98 percent creative
  • Test results amongst 10 year olds: 30 percent creative
  • Test results amongst 15 year olds: 12 percent creative
  • Same test given to 280,000 adults: 2 percent creative

“What we have concluded,” Land wrote, “is that non-creative behavior is learned.”

The creative adult is the child who survived the trials of conformity.

What I gather from this, is that the more you follow the rules, the less creative you become. Luckily, you can just as easily decide to blaze your own trail and ignite your creativity fuse again.

Urban Swinery Art By Rafi Perez

A good way to do that is experimenting, exploring, questioning assumptions, using imagination, going outside comfort zones, starting a project you are not sure you can do, and doing vs thinking about doing.

Also, think in a divergent way. Someone hands you a phone, think about all the different ways you can use the phone that are not what it was meant for. I put my phone on airplane mode and threw it up in the air. WORST Transformer EVER.

Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact — everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you.

Also, remember not to take yourself too seriously as a creative. In my opinion a real artist doesn’t need anyone to take them seriously. When I get asked “how did you become so creative?” I usually respond with “I ate a lot of paste as a kid.”

Balloon Man By Rafi Perez
Balloon Man By Rafi Perez

Create what you want, write what you want to read, build what you want to use, cook what you want to eat and share it with the world. If the world responds positively — cool. If not, who cares? At least you’re doing what you enjoy and you are showing yourself what a creative genius you actually are.

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.

You’re Awesome Reason #1

This is written simply to tell you how freakin’ awesome you are! Yes, YOU! Stop looking behind you. You are more awesome than you might like to believe, and I want to give you one reason today, so listen up.

Rafi And Klee Studios

Reason #1: You Are Beautiful – So Darn Beautiful!

That’s right I said it. You’re beautiful! Yes you!

Listen, the way you look is different from anyone else around. Your unique look is beautiful.

You have been through so much in your life – you have come so far and you’re still moving along. No one has experienced your exact experiences, and that’s one of the many things that makes you beautiful.

Klee is so stylish

Your laugh is beautiful (even when you snort). It is. Nothing is better than your joy.

You may not think of yourself as a creative person, but you are. Somehow, somewhere you have created something, imagined something, dreamed something. Creativeness is beautiful, and you’re creative in your own way, and that is beautiful.

No matter what you’ve thought about yourself in the past, someone out there thinks you’re perfect. Someone loves you for who you are, just the way you are, and wouldn’t change a thing.

Be Brave

You are brave. At some point in your life you had to do something that you were afraid to do. You had to face your fear, and that is beautiful.

You have your own unique thoughts, your own unique experiences, and your own unique life. Your uniqueness makes you beautiful, and it’s what makes you, you!

You exist. That’s beautiful in itself. Life is a precious gift, and knowing that out of all the unknown in the world, you were created, and you turned out… well, as you – now that’s beautiful.

Happiness is beautiful. Even if you’re having a bad day, or you don’t feel the greatest – smile. Smiles bring happiness, happiness is beautiful, and your smile is beautiful.

Getting Rejected And Still Being Awesome

There is nothing fun about getting rejected.

Ever notice how being turned down stops some people from trying again, while others bounce back from rejection stronger than before? Everyone experiences the sweet sting of rejection, but some people use that pain to grow stronger and become even better equipped for the next round of rejection.

As artists, Klee and I experience rejection ALL the time. In fact if you are in a creative field there is one constant in your life… you are going to be rejected time and time again. This was one of the fears I had that kept me from experiencing an art career for most of my life. Luckily, I’ve stumbled upon five steps that help me use rejection instead of rejection using me.

1. I Acknowledge My Emotions

Rather than suppress, ignore, or deny the pain, I acknowledge the emotions. I openly admit when I’m embarrassed, sad, disappointed, or discouraged. I have practiced confidence in my ability to deal with uncomfortable emotions head-on, which is essential to coping with the discomfort of rejection.

No matter what kind of rejection it is, trying to minimize the pain by convincing yourself–or someone else–it was “no big deal” or “it’s their fault” will only prolong your pain. The best way to deal with uncomfortable emotions is to face them head-on.

2. I View Rejection As Evidence That I’m Pushing At My Limits

I know that rejection serves as proof that I’m living life to the fullest. Honestly, I expect to be rejected every once in a while, and I’m not afraid to go for it, even when I know it might be a long shot.

If you never get rejected, you may be living too far inside your comfort zone… just saying.

3. I Treat Myself With Compassion

Rather than think, “You’re so stupid for thinking you could do that,” I treat myself with compassion. I stand up for myself and respond to negative self-talk with a kinder, more empowering message.

Beating yourself up will only keep you down. Speak to yourself like a trusted friend or cheerleader. Drown out your harsh inner critic by repeating helpful mantras that will keep you feeling awesome.

4. I Refuse To Let Rejection Define Me

I stay away from making sweeping generalizations when I’m rejected. If one gallery turns me down or ignores me, I don’t declare them or myself incompetent or a bad artist. I try to keep rejection in proper perspective.

One person’s opinion, or one single incident, should never define who you are. Don’t let your self-worth depend upon other people’s opinions of you. Just because someone else thinks something about you, doesn’t mean it’s true.

5. I Learn From Rejection

If I’m rejected I’ll ask myself, “What did I gain from this?” so I can walk away with something I gained for the next try. Rather than simply tolerate the pain, I turn it into an opportunity for self-growth. I’m all about using any opportunity to learn and feel better about my life and what comes next.

Whether you learn about areas in your life that need improvement, or you simply recognize that being turned down isn’t as awful as you imagined, rejection can be a good teacher. Use rejection as an opportunity to move forward with more wisdom and love.

Happiness Is An Empty Chocolate Wrapper

Have you ever looked around at the expression that people make when they aren’t putting on a happy face? I believe it’s called “resting bitch face.” In my opinion, this is what happens whenever you aren’t feeling happy or confident and you try to fake it.

I’m not sure what face I’m making here

I know you’ve heard the saying “fake it ’til you make it”, and I’m sure there are times where that comes in handy. I know I’ve used that philosophy before, but when it comes to happiness, I feel like there is an extra ingredient that needs to be added.

Understanding that happiness is a choice. You have to genuinely understand that you choose in that moment to be happy or not, despite what is going on around you.

It’s like a wrapper of dove chocolate with its little motivational sayings. At that moment you can see it as something that you enjoyed in the past, but is now gone forever. You also have the option to appreciate the experience you had of chocolate sweetness, and the extra little token of love written on the wrapper. It’s your choice to make, and one makes you happy and the other may make you sad. Just like you can be happy about this bad analogy or upset that I just wasted a few seconds of your life.

Happiness is being lost but still choosing to be good spirits

Happiness really is a choice you have to make. Many of us get it wrong: We think that happiness is a byproduct of something good happening to us, success, be it a high-paying job, a successful business, raising a family, or achieving a goal.

Ever heard of this old song?

If I have the money, then I will do the things I want. Finally, I will be happy.

Yet, dissatisfaction and sadness often keep us from doing the things we want. We lack the enthusiasm and the vigor to do those things in the first place, because we think we are not happy. That can be exhausting.

I like to say to myself, I will decide to be happy now. Then I will do the things I want and be happy about it.

I still remember the excitement and ah-ha moment when I first discovered this. I thought about it for days afterwards, I contemplated it, in fact I still do. It has had such a large and profound impact on my life that I still talk about it, even after a decade.

Always Keep Your Eyes Open

Rafi And Klee Studios

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

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

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

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

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

Just think about it.

Be The Change You Want To See In The World.

Rafi And Klee Studios

Gandhi said “If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. … We need not wait to see what others do.”

I think this statement says a lot to explain how changing my perspective had a huge impact on the way I see the world, and in return the way that the world sees me.

I used to have a very negative and cynical point of view, I wasn’t a joy to be around. Mostly I behaved this way because I felt unhappy, isolated, lonely, and out of control. It was after a life altering experience that I realized that all these feelings are just feelings. Just because I’m feeling it, doesn’t mean that I have to buy into the belief or reaction that is causing it. Ultimately, I realized that I could choose to respond to things vs react.

This small shift changed my world. Once I changed, my world changed.

What does his statement mean to you?

Artistic People Are Difficult To Understand?!?!

There is this interesting thing that happens when someone finds out I’m an artist. They will automatically jump to one conclusion or another about what that means. Usually it has something to do with my personality, they expect some artist version of a role you would see in a movie. Someone eccentric, colorful, and grandiose. I’m sure I have been accused of being all of those things at one point in my life. Granted, I have my moments, but I think we all do to one extent or another.

I recently ran across an article that stated 15 reasons why artistic people are difficult to understand. This article surprised me a little because it seemed like there was a possibility that the author was a little bias against artistic people.

Now to be fair, all 15 reasons that she stated were valid, but not just for artists, nor do they apply to every artist. If you’ve followed any of my art, watched our videos, or listened to our podcasts, you know that I am totally against being put into a niche or grouping.

I think it’s a defense mechanism to put people in a grouping to help you simplify the world and make it easier for you to navigate. The problem is that everyone is extremely different and have their own personalities, likes, dislikes, motivations, and way of thinking.

To say that every artist is like this or that is a generalization that is false, yet many times we convince ourselves of silly things just because simple is good. But a simple generalization can be dangerous, we see it all the time with hate groups, opposing political or religious views. No one listens or bothers to speak actual words to each other because they assume to know the other person’s modus operandi based on what they think is their group’s entire point of view.

In fact, in reading this, you may have grouped me either into your group or out of your group. Depending on which group I am now a part of, you will either agree with what I have to say or be insulted by my words. That is what makes it both fascinating and scary.

Despite what anyone has tried to say to me about various said groups, I find beautiful people in all, and I also find some douche bags in all. In my opinion, I would rather meet an individual and base my opinion on their actions and comments than the actions and comments of a group that I assume they are a part of. People are not that predictable, no matter how much you try to simplify them.

Besides, according to the article, I’m eccentric and extremely good looking, so I can get away with thinking this way.

I found it interesting in the article that she had some absolutely ridiculous generalizations posed as facts about artists. It made me wonder how many people read that article and now believe that those statements are true. Don’t believe what you read on the internet!

Watch our entertaining video about our reaction to the 15 reasons.

https://youtu.be/F6TPvNmSKkU