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Are You Too Emotional?

This month has been personally challenging for us… well, this year has been a challenging cluster of fudge. No matter how much we try to avoid negative crap in our lives, crap happens sometimes… or a lot of times. 

For the most part, Klee and I focus on the positive and look on the bright side of things. Even then, there are times that can get overwhelmingly craptastic. It should come as no big surprise that when stuff goes wrong, things tend to stack one on top of the other. 

This is where the last proverbial straw can easily break the camel’s back. 

“That’s the last straw!!! I can’t take this anymore!!” may come out of your mouth or other less PG statements which all mean the same thing… I have had enough.

No matter how much we focus on the positive and look on the bright side of things, there is always a chance of being overwhelmed by negative emotions and dark thoughts. In other words, when it feels like it is just too much, it is easy to lose your shit.

Some people build a wall around this because they see it as a weakness to get angry or emotional. Usually, these people are more concerned about what other people may think of them, so behind closed doors they struggle in solitude while the world around them only sees what they want them to see. Honestly, this is the culture we all live in. It is normal to put up a strong front for other people when you are literally falling apart inside.

On the flip side to this, you have people that easily lose their shit and become volatile. They are so consumed by their own drama that they completely overlook what the people around them are going through. They become absorbed by what is happening to them and want others to feel empathy without feeling empathy themselves.

I grew up with examples of both.

With one person, I had no idea what they were actually feeling so I would overcompensate to try and get an emotional response. I always felt like I couldn’t get anywhere with them, and when I broached on a subject that was buried, they would lash out and get defensive… that’s usually where the conversation ended and I would walk away feeling like I had done something wrong. Most times this person would tell me I was doing it wrong and it was my fault that they didn’t open up.

With the other person, I was constantly walking on eggshells to make sure I didn’t say, do or have something random go wrong because it would set them off. This is where you try and control circumstances in the environment because you want the other person not to encounter a trigger. I was perpetually trying to predict and prevent anything that would make them upset. Again, I would overcompensate and usually cause a situation to become worse. When this person had a meltdown, they usually got upset with whoever was there and lashed out.

The interesting thing is that everyone has these moments, moments where shit gets to you. Some of us have an explosive moment and reflect and realize that is not who they are or who they want to be… many don’t. 

It’s like the social norm is to be either a person who doesn’t allow feelings to break their social appearance, or you are just an emotional wreck.

The thing is, WE ALL HAVE EMOTIONS… AND WE ALL HAVE A CHOICE ON HOW WE DEAL WITH OUR EMOTIONS. We all lose our shit sometimes, even if you bury feelings or use them as a weapon. The problem is not knowing that there is a big difference between reacting or choosing to respond. I think growing up being called too emotional or that we don’t have feelings is the reason people are not educated in dealing with their emotions.  

Reacting: Something triggers an emotion and you react with a knee-jerk response that is typical of the way you usually react. You tell people things like “Whenever YOU do that it causes me to do this, so stop doing it that way.” Some of these reactions have been repeated thousands of times over your lifetime and are usually learned habits. When this happens, there are usually conditions in place that need to be met in order to trigger it or make it go away.

Responding: Something triggers an emotion and you react with a knee-jerk response that is typical of the way you usually react. At some point (either right away or when you are in the midst of the reaction fog) you stop and take your focus off of the trigger and ask yourself “Is this who I want to be?” Understanding that you are dealing with your own habits and you can chip away at those little by little. You also understand that you have to face the feelings to actually make some headway. This means being brutally honest with yourself. It will require you to say things you don’t want to hear about your behavior and insecurities that you feel control you. This is the hardest part and why it’s easier to lash out and bury the dark feelings. Unless you confront those deep dark recesses of yourself, you may never release whatever is causing the emotional reaction.

Yesterday I shared a motivational artist mp3 with our rogue artists on Patreon. Motivational MP3’s are something I’ve created for myself over the last ten years. Basically, it’s me talking to myself, reminding myself of something that is easy to forget when a particular shit hits a particular fan in my life.

Listen To Rafi’s Motivational MP3’s

I have some recordings on staying motivated as an artist, continuing on despite the obstacles, and remembering that I get to choose my life no matter what the naysayers or I might think. They are my way at chipping away at the habits of insecurity that I may have. 

When you go down a downward spiral of reacting to anything in a negative way (person place or thing) things can easily stack on top of each other and next thing you know, you feel like you are drowning in molasses. 

As an artist, it is easy to feel discouraged, unmotivated, or even stupid and frivolous. We tend to feel lost in a wilderness of solitude surrounded by a world that doesn’t respect or understand what we do or why we do it. It’s easy to feel like you are losing. 

We are constantly just waiting for things to get easier.

I’m sorry, but I am going to be brutally honest with you now… Things never get easier, we just grow, evolve, and find better ways in overcoming obstacles. We form new habits and learn to smile more. We learn to not dwell on the past, or let our negative thoughts (or someone else’s) shape our world. 

It is the struggles, hardships, and moments where we feel we can’t keep going that make us stronger. These are the moments where you have an opportunity to show yourself once and for all who you really are.

So if you have what I like to call “A Momentary Lapse Of Brilliance” that’s fine. Just respond to it. It doesn’t define you. There is no such thing as TOO emotional, or NOT emotional enough… they are both ways of not confronting our own emotional shit.

So get mad and lash out and refuse to let it control you. You fight. You cry. You curse. You punch. You wave your fists at the heavens. Don’t blame the person, place, or thing… look at your own insecurities.

Tell your insecurity,  your bad day, your crappy situation, or whatever else “NOT TODAY!”

I GET TO CHOOSE

I GET TO DECIDE HOW I FEEL TODAY.

I’M IN CONTROL OF WHO I CHOOSE TO BE EVERY MOMENT OF EVERY DAY. 

AND TODAY, I AM FOCUSED ON THE FACT THAT I AM A BADASS.

Then you live your damn life like the badass that you are. 

Remember, chip away… You may only be a teeny bit more badass than yesterday and THAT IS BADASS 🙂

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How Do I Feel About Raccoons Creating Art?

The other day I ran across an article with the title “These Raccoons Are Creating Abstract Masterpiece Paintings Using Their Tiny Paws.”

After almost spitting out my coffee, I was overcome with a myriad of emotions. At first, I was like “What the hell? An abstract masterpiece… really?”

My indignation didn’t stop there. I then proceeded to go into a mental tirade about the mainstream art world and how it is a miracle that anyone takes artists seriously. This very unproductive moment of my life lasted about five minutes that I’ll never get back.

My second thought, once I came back from the brink of declaring war on the art world and the raccoons who inhabit it, was “Dammit, they’re so cute.”

So why did I get mad about cute raccoons selling art?

Because no matter how much I try to remind myself that the art world is not a dog eat dog competition, I sometimes have momentary lapses of my brilliant optimistic self. As insecure artists, we can sometimes turn our nose up at things simply because we are being jackasses with no sense of fun.

Why am I telling you this story? Because I almost passed up the perfect marketing lesson. I was too wrapped up in feeling undervalued, too wrapped up in feeling like a victim to the status quo. This would have been a very stupid move considering that my next book is going to be about “Rogue Marketing” which is all about taking the status quo and throwing it out.

These raccoons have a YouTube following, create and sell art, have weird names, use their own techniques to paint(paws), and have a whole bunch of pictures of themselves on the internet… It’s like looking in the mirror.

So what can I learn from the phenomenons that are the painting raccoons?

It started as a fun project. Their creative spirit is fostered thanks to the help of their humans Mitchell and Sarah Thyme. They came up with the idea to let their raccoons paint by observing the behavior of the creatures. “Raccoons are constantly touching things with their hands to gather sensory information,” Sarah said, “and we saw our raccoons doing it, so we thought painting would be a fun activity for them.”

The truth is, these raccoons are doing exactly what I recommend for artists who are just getting started. Create art and put yourself out there in the arena… and try not to take yourself too seriously.

They are telling a story and have a purpose. If you go to their website, it is not just “Hey look, this raccoon is painting.” Tito the Raccoon shares his adventures on Instagram and YouTube to change the stigma about raccoons, who people commonly think are pests. He wants to spread the message that not every raccoon is a rabid, feisty animal (though Tito does not support everyone keeping a raccoon as a pet).

There are cute baby raccoon pictures and stuff… it’s fucking adorable.

It’s unique to them. The really important thing is that they have done something to set them apart. They are not following what everyone else is doing. It is cute raccoons creating art.

It’s fun. I think that sometimes as artists we forget the nature of that childlike desire to create and share our creations with others. We make it way too serious, maybe because we want to be taken seriously.

Being Childish Is Fun

Are they masterpieces? Will they sell for millions of dollars some day? Are they “HIGH ART”? Is it even really art if a human isn’t the one creating it? I don’t know, and I don’t really care… it’s fun, and the raccoons are enjoying themselves, that much is clear from all the social media and videos.

So before you scoff at someone nailing a banana to the wall of a gallery, or someone signing a urinal, or a raccoon painting a masterpiece… consider not taking it all so seriously, and have fun.

I think we might all benefit from this lesson in so many ways… Thank you Tito the raccoon. Unfortunately Tito has gone missing, hopefully he’ll return home soon.

If you want to check out Tito the raccoon’s artwork check him out here.

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ARTROVERTS! UNITE! Being Successful As An Artist

Recently I designed a t-shirt that says “ARTROVERTS UNITE! We’re here! We’re uncomfortable! We want to go home and create something.”

If you had asked me a few years ago when I started selling art, what it takes to be a successful artist… my answer would have been simple: the ability to produce good art.

I imagined that my artistic life would consist solely of me working in my studio, producing strokes of genius.

Art collectors would magically appear (poof) to buy art and leave. I would rarely have to leave my studio, and I would never have to go out into the “real” world. I would never again have to go to any social gathering I didn’t want to go to. This belief was clearly absurd, but I had all kinds of silly ideas in my brain jar of what being an artist was.

Now, almost a decade into it, I realize the subject of what it takes to be successful as an artist is much more intricate. It’s not just about producing art, although that is a BIG part of it. It’s about putting yourself out there again and again. Falling on your face and accepting rejection as part of the process.

Had I known all these years, my fear would have either gotten the better of me, or I would have blazed my own trail long ago. I would have become an ARTROVERT.

I love making art. I love being in my studio. Creativity is what keeps me from losing my shit, makes my life meaningful, and encourages me to jump out of bed in the morning even when the world seems to be amid a crap-storm.

The thing I didn’t understand when I first started was how much being an artist would require me to stretch myself. Or maybe I knew, which is why for most of my life, I didn’t pursue an art career. I stayed comfortably in the shallow end.

I had a friend that used to tell me that even our dream jobs will have roles we don’t like but which we accept so we can do the parts we love.

To be an artist, we have to accept the discomfort of being perpetually vulnerable, having no financial security, and being rejected often.

This involves putting yourself out there in front of the world… Which can be terrifying.

So How did you do it Rafi? How did you get over your fear?

I decided to take it step by step and not try to eat the entire enchilada all at once. I realized it wasn’t all or nothing, I could do it in chunks. I knew those chunks were going to hit on some major comfort zones. I also stopped comparing myself to where other artists were at in their careers.

Being an ARTROVERT is all about accepting the fact that it is OK that you don’t want to be social, and not punishing yourself for it. It means that you trust in communicating with your art and don’t concern yourself so much with how people see you.

You’re an artist, you are weird, and awkward sometimes, and that is OK. Artroverts love their studio, they love creating, and they love their quiet time. An artrovert also understands that if you are not putting yourself out there, you are not communicating your art with the world… so you show up.

To be an artist, it is quite simple. Create art, put it out there, and persist through the bullshit of your own mind or other people. Keep creating, keep showing up, and through that experience, you will let your weird artistic personality shine into the world along with your art.

Be unapologetically awkward, be creative, be an ARTROVERT.

Listen to our podcast below, where Klee and I talk about being ARTROVERTS.

And Here is A Quick Message From Some Random Sponsor (sorry 🙂 not sorry)

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Fachunking And Inside Farts

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

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

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

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

What is borborygmus you ask?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Stir Crazy, Awesome Podcasts, And Staying Connected

Today I woke up and realized that it’s been about two and a half weeks since I have ventured out of the studio. Although our art studio is one of the coolest places to be, it’s easy to start feeling a little stir crazy.

Last time we went out, we hunted down supplies and scored toilet paper… good times, good times.

My book is NOT toilet paper… not yet anyhow.

Today I went outside and did a little stretching in the yard, hugged Klee, and returned into the studio and am currently listening to some music while I create.

I had a lovely surprise in the form of a Podcast from Curious Kirby, in which she interviewed Klee and me.

Kirby asked us all kinds of interesting questions, and it was a blast. You can listen by visiting her site here.

I avoid watching or reading the news. As you can imagine, there’s not much out there but doom and gloom, which is not very inspiring for creating art. Honestly, I haven’t felt very inspired lately.

Mostly, I’ve been recording and editing the audiobook for ‘The Rogue Artist’s Survival Guide’ and trying to keep my wits about me.

Klee and I are used to being at home and not going out much, but even still, we have to keep a close eye on our attitude towards ourselves and each other. It can be easy to lose your shit over stupid things, especially when you are recording an audiobook, and every sound in the house sounds like a firecracker.

It was excellent listening to the podcast in the studio. I could feel the old familiar sense of inspiration bubbling up from deep down inside, where I tried to bury it. It was under several layers of apathy, numbness, and what-the-fuckery that I was feeling earlier today. I suddenly felt alive again and ready to write. I had a mission! I had something to say again!

As you know, we’re enduring a global pandemic. (I only remind you because in 10 years when you’re reading this we will have forgotten what a goddamned shit show we experienced.)

I think during this time it is important to remember to smile and enjoy the little things… the things we can enjoy.

We are more connected than ever before. This blog, facetime, live streams, social media, podcasts, and so much more. We can create, connect, and love one another.

Sure, we may have to keep our distance, but it doesn’t mean we can’t FEEL connected.

We are still doing all of our YouTube videos from the studio

I adore you!

-Rafi

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Sometimes Life Happens And It Sucks

I have been told on occasion that I’m so lucky to be able to live the life I live. Someone sees a snapshot of my life as an artist on social media and thinks that is the whole picture. As if everything is easy and just sunshine and rainbows float around my life. The truth isn’t as glamorous.

I try to be as honest and authentic as I can be with any content that I share with the world, but even then you are only getting part of the picture. In a world saturated with smiley faces and picture-perfect snapshots of everyone else’s life, it is easy to think that you are alone in feeling unhappy.

We all have our moments. When you see a picture of me creating a work of art, you don’t see all the insecurity, doubt, and worries I may have at the moment. When you see a picture of me smiling, there is no way to know if I have lingering doubts in the background of my mind.

Back to back questions can fill my head like “Am I going to have enough money to pay the bills this month? Do my children hate me? Can I pull off this next art project even though I feel like an impostor? Am I doing enough to promote myself? Why do I feel so invisible? Why am I so fat? YouTube is probably slowing down because I’m old and ugly? Aaaaaarg!”

Sometimes Life Happens And It Sucks

You know… I woke up this morning feeling unmotivated and defeated. The book is eating up a huge portion of my life right now, and my days are spent sitting on the couch typing. I can easily get overwhelmed trying to balance writing a book and running my entire art and media business. Throw a small wrench into the mix like a water pipe bursting over your bed and all of a sudden it seems like the end of the world.

No matter how wonderful someone’s life may seem, we all have insecurities creep up, we all feel overwhelmed sometimes, and we all have things we are afraid of.

This morning, I feel like I’m a failure at my art business, YouTube, Patreon, and life. I hardly make any income from all the work I put into a lot of online platforms and I have to wonder if I’m wasting my time. Am I wasting my time writing this blog? I feel like I’m letting everyone who believes in me down and everything I create is crap.

From art to podcast, to videos, to life choices, to writing, to everything I do, it all feels like crap. I feel like everything I try to do is harder than it should be, and I feel isolated and alone.

Listen, I’m not sharing this with you because I think my life sucks or anything. I also don’t want you to think I’m complaining, because I’m not. I just want you to know that you are not alone, we ALL have days where our thoughts are less than satisfied with our lives. We all have those moments where we look in the mirror and don’t like what we see. No matter how wonderful you think someone’s life is, I guarantee that daily, they may have something they are struggling with.

I think the reason I keep going with everything is a stubborn determination to smile. I don’t quit. I know that at some point during the day, I’m going to discourage myself. I know that there is a huge possibility that I’m going to call myself names. I am probably going to worry about the future and make myself feel bad about the choices I’ve made.

I know that a part of me will do whatever it takes to keep me comfortable, small, and hopeless. That is a safe place to be because you don’t take risks from that place. You don’t put yourself and your ideas out there if you feel that you don’t matter. My brain will do whatever it can to protect me from rejection or failure… even go as far as saying some really hurtful stuff in my own head and heart.

Insecurities are complex and hard to describe. We all have them, and they are all different and multifaceted.

I just don’t buy into mine as often as I used to, and when I do… I remind myself that when you are about to make a breakthrough, that’s when the negative voices in your head get louder and more desperate. I also don’t give myself any labels that are damaging. You may be feeling depressed, but you are not depressed, it is a momentary feeling.

We all go through this, and we all deal with it in our own way. I channel my emotions into all my creations and find a way to feel empowered by the experience.

Some commiserate with each other, some find a way to smile despite all the setbacks and some rise above the crap. Some choose to believe in themselves and focus on their life, and others compare their lives to what they assume others are experiencing.

It is after the experience, where I have faced the worst of it that you may see a picture of me smiling on social media. Shit happens, life can feel like it sucks, and times can be tough, but you get to determine how you respond to all of it. If your day sucks, then so be it, but don’t isolate yourself by thinking you’re the only one.

I share this with you because I think you’ve got this. I’ve got this… we can be heroes of our own story. We can all be champions of our own life… Just gotta choose to be awesome and roll with the punches.

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Being A Busy Artist

I have been very busy lately juggling a full-time art career, YouTube media studio, weekly podcasts, commissions, writing a book, art shows, giving presentations, gearing up for the holiday season and maintaining a happy & healthy relationship with my wife Klee. She is running her side of the business as well, and it is easy for both of us to get lost in the overwhelm of to-do lists, meetings, and deadlines.

First off, I’m not moaning about how busy I am. Often when someone complains about being too busy, it is actually a thinly veiled boast disguised as a complaint. I have, admittedly, worn the “busy badge” in the past during moments of insecurity. This is where you make it a point to illustrate how your life cannot possibly be silly, trivial, or meaningless because you are so busy, completely booked, in demand every hour of the day.

The problem with all that boasting is that it has a tendency to make you feel even busier than you are. Us humans tend to believe the things we tell ourselves, while also inadvertently making others feel overwhelmed too. I finally came to the conclusion that it wasn’t helping to gripe about it, in fact, it was making the overwhelm worse. Besides, if you’re genuinely that busy… are you sure you can spare the time to be bitching about it?

Another unhealthy way I started to give into “being busy” was paying too much attention to the rapid pace that the world seemed to be heading in. I began realizing that the urgency-addicted culture that I lived in was having a huge impact on the way I lived my day to day life, and that was an eye-opener for me. I was convinced that just a bit more speed, time, productivity and I could stay in control. I started to grow unwilling to tolerate the discomfort of slowing down. Taking a break, even a small one, even for good reason, started to seem unproductive.

When you find yourself on this treadmill of urgency, it can feel unacceptable to slow down. As it turns out, the idea that you need to go full throttle all the time is completely unproductive. Your mind and body need breaks from what you are doing or you will end up burning out pretty quickly. I now take a 15 to 30 minute break every 2 hours, even during the busiest workdays. Believe or not, I get so much more done now than I did when I pushed through, and my days are less stressful and much more enjoyable.

A to-do list can be both a blessing and a curse. It is a trackable list of tasks that fuels the ambition of getting completion in a day, but adding one more item to the list feels effortless, so it’s dangerously easy to over-commit. I feel like I used to have lists that were a mile long, and when I didn’t complete them, I felt like a failure that day. I then went into the next day feeling like I was already behind.

I now have a cap on my daily to-do. Instead of an open-ended list, I only allow myself to schedule 5 items for the day. If I complete the items on my list, then I’ll add additional stuff that is small and easy to do. If I do not finish my list, I add the incompleted items to the top of the next day. I also have a Fantastic 4 list that I write about in my book, but that involves special tasks that are designed to break large overwhelming projects into tiny chunks.

Most importantly, remember that life is short and you don’t want to spend these precious days feeling overwhelmed and stressed out. It is something I remind myself of every day as I sit silently for ten minutes, battling the voices that like to say I’m being unproductive.

Give those voices the middle finger, and enjoy your day.

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Could The Real Art World Please Stand Up?

Today Klee and I were talking about the art stock market on our podcast. That’s the name we coined for the big-ticket commodities art market that you see blasted all over the news and in documentaries. Considering the amount of press that gets focused on large art auctions and big-name galleries, it’s easy to think that you are not actually an artist until you’ve somehow made it there.

It got me thinking about the way that people perceive the art world in general. When you think about it, what people call the art market in the media, is only about 1% of the actual art market. There is no mention of the everyday people that make up the art market, the real art market, the real world.

The real art world is made up of one-on-one interactions, and I think we forget that sometimes in this media blasted quick paced world. It’s not about how much money the art sold for, or how wealthy the collector is, or how much prestige the sale brought the artist. Honestly, the corporate companies I worked for would print out prestige in the form of “You did real good.” certificates, and I would put them in cheap frames and hang them on my wall as a symbol of how important I was. I feel like we miss the point when we confuse success with awards and accolades. You can add them to your resume, but I feel like we’ve lost the point of what it is all about.

It’s about the friendships developed, and the relationships we establish as artists, with the people that connect with us through the art we create. It’s about the creative process and the astonishing ability to face rejection every day and share your art with the world. It is about the collector who proudly displays your artwork on their wall, or wears it on their body, or listens to it in their car. It is about that connection that would not have been possible if that individual artist did not break through the barriers of fear and share their creations with the world. It would not have been possible without the vast amount of humans out there who buy art because of the value it has to them, not because it has market value.

As an artist who had to make his own way, I have trained myself to see the world quite differently than I used to. Where I once had hopelessness in an impossible art career system, I now see the opportunities, the misdirections to be avoided, and the hope for everyone to pursue their creative spirit.

I think it is easy to forget in this world that is so focused on money and success, that we artists create because of the love of creation. We create to express ourselves and bring back a childlike sense of imagination, wonder, and feeling into our world. Creations that can remind us all to pause and appreciate.

Just food for thought.

I also wanted to announce that my book is fully funded! Thank you all so much! The Rogue Artist’s Survival Guide is becoming a reality. I am going quiet for a couple of weeks on social media and YouTube as I finish up the book and do some final edits. You can still pre-order the book at https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-rogue-artist-s-survival-guide-by-rafi-perez

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Morning Thoughts On Blazing A Trail

This morning I found myself contemplating my life and the different ways I have lived it. Since I am in the process of writing a book, I am looking at notes and different events in my life that lead me to this point. I am a very happy individual, but I also spent the majority of my life feeling trapped and unhappy.

Growing up, I was influenced by television shows, parents, friends, friends families, teachers, the weird neighbor with the giant hairy mole, and pretty much everything and everyone else in society. I was told that my airy-fairy ideas of becoming an artist, musician, or creative were a cute thing to hold onto as long as I was a child, but eventually I would have to grow out of it. The influences were subtle and mostly unspoken. Most tv shows that I loved involved the man having a job he hated to support his family, the wife stayed at home and took care of the kids, and that’s just how it was. Usually, the job sucked really bad, but the man took solace in the fact that his sacrifice was for his family.

I gotta tell you… that whole scenario of putting your dreams aside, working a job you hate and sacrificing your happiness for the greater good is a piece of crap-turd. First off, that sucks for the man. I was that man for 20 years, and I can tell you, it sucked pretty bad. Second, I wasn’t benefiting my children at all, if anything I was teaching them first hand the same bad influence I had growing up. Third, I started to secretly resent my family because I felt that my sacrifice was being taken for granted, and that slowly tore everything apart.

After that experience I realized that no one had a handle on happiness or what you should do with your life, just a plethora of opinions based on other peoples’ opinions, and the majority of those opinions were outdated crap. It wasn’t out-of-the-box-thinking-trailblazers telling me my dreams were impossible, these were people that had conformed to living a life like everyone else, and most of them weren’t feeling fulfilled or happy.

Listen, I’m not saying you have to work for yourself in order to be happy, you can have a job somewhere and be happy and feel fulfilled. Unfortunately, I think there are a lot of people that just settle for what they can get and ignore the yearning that comes from within, and in my opinion, that’s just misery. I think whether you pursue your own career or you work for someone else, it’s really all about how you choose to live; whether or not you are willing to blaze your own trail or simply conform to the status quo.

Blaze a trail:
Find a new path or method; begin a new undertaking. By extension, to be the first to do something, often that which is later emulated or built upon by others. Note: New trails or routes through forests were often marked by `blazing’ which involved making white marks called `blazes’ on tree trunks, usually by chipping off a piece of bark.

If there is anything that I pride myself on now, it is that I stubbornly do things my own way and continue to move forward despite the fact that I may have to pole vault over obstacles every once in a while.

That being said, if there are portions of the well-worn path that suit my needs, I don’t avoid them, but I make sure not to allow myself to get comfortable with the easiness of it.

One thing I can take away from these very unfinished thoughts that I’m sharing with you is this: No matter what, you have a choice. You get to decide how you are going to live your life. Some people may be disappointed by your decisions, and they may even get angry at you… some may never talk to you again. Most people will come around eventually, and they’ll say things like “I always believed in you and knew you could do it” despite what they may have said in the beginning.

I think that no matter what, it is always worth looking at your life and answering one question… if I was on my deathbed right now, would I have any regrets?

Just food for thought.

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How To Get Noticed

I get approached by a lot of artists who are just starting out, who ask me how they can get noticed in a saturated art market. They think there is some trick to it, some magical formula that exists that causes millions of people to suddenly flock to their social media page. Usually, I leave them very disappointed with my answer, because unless you are selling a gimmick, it is going to take time.

Being Childish Is Fun

What I do tell them is that it is time to take that scary step and stand in the limelight. I also tell them to think of their future followers and collectors as human beings and not just a gathering of statistics. The answer is NOT about having the lowest price, being the best, offering free shipping, or any of the stupid gimmicks people pull to try and close a sale. Besides, amazon already has that jazz on lock-down. Certainly, some of those things are nice, but honestly, in an age where the masses are taking that route it is not going to set you apart. Standing out is about building relationships and that starts with each and every encounter you have. Whether you are developing a relationship online or face to face it is that extra humanity and authenticity that will set you apart.

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Be genuinely interested in people. People are what make up businesses, galleries, art studios, and everything else in the world. Create a real connection by actually being interested in them, instead of focusing on what you can get out of the relationship. On social media, it is impossible to look at everyone’s feed, especially when you start to get a lot of followers, but make it a point to acknowledge everyone that makes the time to communicate with you.

Most importantly, ask yourself: how can you add value to their lives after knowing what you know from meeting them. A lot of typical marketing is mass targeted, and with that approach you might as well be throwing a wet sock at the wall and seeing if it sticks (the imagery of both makes me gag a little). When you are genuinely interested in the people you connect with, you reach out to them with specific content or creations that are relevant to them. Things that you know they are interested in because they are interested in the genuine you.

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“Be genuine, authentic and have people in your life that will call you out and hold you accountable.” – Jim Palmer

A lot of people will tell you to be unique so that you stand out when you market yourself. What they don’t tell you is that you are already unique. There is no one out there quite like you, nor will there EVER be anyone out there like you. That is why, I think it is most important to be authentic. I think a lot of people will look to someone else as a guide on how to act. The problem with this method is that you are playing a role and eventually that is going to become exhausting. Also, the most loyal collectors will be those who have gotten to know you… the real you.

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And last but not least, put yourself out there. Take action, starting today, right now. Open your mouth, let your opinion be known, share your art, share your music, share your writing, share your videos, be remarkable and go big or go home. Putting yourself out there might mean stepping outside your comfort zone, doing something that you have never done before and taking some risks. Push yourself beyond the walls that you have built around yourself for so many years. Stop telling yourself NO and start telling yourself YES. You got this.

At the end of the day, getting noticed is all about realizing that you are remarkable and you have a voice. It’s not about forcing your opinions on someone, but simply speaking your truth and sharing it with the world.