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Artist Sunday! Calling all art lovers and holiday enthusiasts!

Hey, fabulous folks of Oil City Pennsylvania, and beyond! I’ve got some exhilarating news that will add a splash of color and creativity to your Sunday plans. Drumroll, please… This November 26th, from 11 AM to 4 PM, get ready to immerse yourself in a dazzling celebration of local talent during the Artists Sunday extravaganza!

If you’re wondering what Artists Sunday is all about, let me break it down for you. It’s the perfect remedy for post-Thanksgiving and Black Friday madness. This Sunday is dedicated to supporting the incredible artists and art businesses right in your community. Say goodbye to generic gifts and hello to one-of-a-kind treasures crafted by the hands of your very own local artists.

Picture this: paintings that speak to your soul, jewelry that sparkles with personality, ceramics that redefine elegance, books that transport you to other worlds, prints and cards that are practically works of art themselves, mesmerizing photography, toe-tapping music, and beautifully illustrated books that are simply irresistible. The best part? All of these gems will be up for grabs, and they’re waiting for you!

Artist Sunday In Oil City PA 2023

But wait, there’s more excitement to unfold in Oil City! Although Klee and I won’t be showcasing our own masterpieces from 11-4, we’ve got something equally thrilling lined up. Brace yourselves for a mind-blowing special effects makeup presentation starting at 4:30 PM in the Great Room at the National Transit building (206 Seneca St, Oil City, PA 16301). Why, you ask? Well, our incredible friend Kaleb Lewis, an extraordinary make-up artist, is leading a make-up course for some seriously talented artists. Get ready for a face-off style showdown, where Klee and I, along with the awesome judges John Bernstein and Nick Hess, will be critiquing the magic just like on the hit show!

I can’t contain my excitement – it’s like I’m living a dream! So mark your calendars and make your way to Oil City between 11 AM and 4 PM. The entire town, from the north to the south side, will be buzzing with open studios and artists’ pop-ups. Feel free to explore the artistic wonders displayed in local businesses or dive into the creativity housed within the artist studios in the transit building.

Kaleb Lewis And His Awesome Make Up

And here’s the grand finale – at 4:30 PM, witness the spectacle as the special effects makeup presentation kicks off. It’s going to be an absolute blast, and I can guarantee you won’t want to miss it!


So, whether you’re a seasoned art connoisseur or just looking for a unique holiday experience, make Artists Sunday your destination. Join us in Oil City for a day filled with creativity, community, and pure artistic joy. Trust me; it’s going to be an event to remember! #ArtistsSunday #OilCityArtistry #CreativeFestivities

Artist Sunday In Oil City PA 2023

WHAT: Artist Sunday
WHERE: OIL CITY, PA (Downtown Area and National Transit Building)
WHEN: 11/26/2023 1-4 and 4:30 PM
WHY: Because it’s awesome!
Find out More Information on Arts Oil City Facebook Page

Artist Sunday In Oil City PA 2023
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Chaos, Calendars, and Empowering Artist Souls

Welcome to the chaotic haven that is my studio! Today, I’m diving in with a mind as blank as a fresh canvas—yes, you heard it right, my brain’s on vacation. But don’t worry, I come bearing announcements that might just make your morning!

First things first: major life update! My daughter has parachuted into this artistic universe of mine, causing delightful chaos and a whirlwind of adjustments. We’re currently in the eye of the storm, navigating these uncharted waters, but oh boy, it’s a crazy adventure and I couldn’t be more thrilled!

Creativity With My Daughter In The Studio

Now, onto the second tidbit—massive thanks to all you wonderful souls who’ve snagged a Rafi 2024 limited edition calendar! They’re selling like hotcakes, but, there are still a few left. Wanna snatch one for yourself? Just hit that link down below and voila! Your year is about to get artfully organized.

And drumroll, please! The free masterclass has finally emerged from the depths of editing purgatory! It’s live on our courses section, on our rogue community site waiting for eager creative minds like yours to absorb its brilliance. No emails are required and no fuss—just pure, unadulterated knowledge. 

In the masterclass, we discuss the nitty-gritty of an artist’s journey. Now, I may sound like a cheesy motivational speaker every once in a while, but bear with me. One major hurdle for us artists isn’t out there in the big bad world, it’s right in our heads. Yup, it’s all about managing our business, time, and well, that little thing called life.

Artist Masterclass With Rafi And Klee

And here’s the golden rule—no sacrificing our soul for a sack of gold coins. It’s about making your mark in your own authentic way, becoming your own niche. The process? Seizing the reins of your career and feeling empowered to march forward in your creative conquest.

So just dive in and soak up our Rogueness like a sponge.

So, that’s the scoop for today. I might not have dropped any comedic bombs or life-altering revelations, but hey, we’re a family here, right? And sometimes, even I have days where words seem to evade me. But guess what? You guys are incredible, and I adore each and every one of you. Have a brilliantly creative week! Adios for now!

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When Things Go Wrong

As I type out this blog post, I find myself in a different state of mind than usual. Normally, I’m all about positivity, and I tend to share the bright side of life. But today, I want to talk about those times when things don’t go as planned. You start thinking about your own life in the grand scheme of things and can easily find yourself focused on everything that is going wrong. Recently, we took a big financial hit, and the thoughts of our current financial situation have been dominating my brain jar.

Klee and I are what you would call, workaholics. Although our work is fun and creative, we have also put other aspects on our plate that can spiral out of control. This year, we set out to make our lives a little easier, so we could focus on what really matters to us. That has been challenging.

We started the year out by creating our own membership site. The initial idea was to make life simpler, to step away from Patreon, and to streamline our creative community endeavors. However, what actually happened was quite the opposite. The site brought a barrage of glitches and challenges, which only added to my workload. The plan was to simplify, but it seemed we inadvertently complicated things. That being said, it was my fault. As a self-proclaimed workaholic, instead of going the simple route with our membership community, I went crazy and added way too much.

This situation has led me to ponder the financial aspect of our journey. You might think that someone as dedicated as Klee and I, who work tirelessly on our creative pursuits, would be swimming in money. But, the reality is, that our jam-packed schedule doesn’t always leave us with the time to sort out our finances. It’s more like we’re constantly putting out fires, and this chaotic existence doesn’t exactly align with our desire for a simpler, more balanced life.

As October comes to an end and November approaches, I reflect on the whirlwind of activities that transpired. In just one month, we conducted our first artist masterclass workshop, we are about to release a song and a music video, and I introduced my limited edition artist’s calendars. On top of that, our daughter is moving in this week, which has brought its own set of preparations, emotions, and challenges.

We want to be as supportive as possible. It’s easy to do that when you are not focused on the financial dip your bank account has taken for the month. Life is undoubtedly smoother when you’re not just scraping by, but right now, we can only provide emotional support for our daughter as she transitions out of college and decides her path in life. We want to be a positive influence in her life, but the struggles we are focused on can be overwhelming and less than motivational.

Here’s the thing, despite these challenges, I know that I’m standing in my own way when it comes to feeling better about this stuff. This isn’t the first time we’ve faced such a situation; it’s a familiar place for us all at some point. The key, I’ve come to realize, is to keep your head up and your heart open to possibilities.

Amid the chaos and financial worries, we must remind ourselves that opportunities and possibilities are always nearby, if not right in front of us. Our power lies in focusing on what is working, on the things we can do, and on cherishing the moments we have.

When I take a step back and assess this year, I see so many things going right. We’ve built a fantastic online community, our daughter’s exciting new chapter is about to begin, we had a successful artist’s workshop, we’re releasing a stunning music video, and we’ve created a life that we both love. I’ve created beautiful art, we’ve made new friends in our new town, and we’ve found a home that we adore. Life could be worse, a lot worse. It’s really just a matter of perspective.

Yes, life doesn’t always go according to plan, but that’s just the nature of life itself. Instead of worrying too much, let’s savor the moments, enjoy life, and focus on what’s going well as much as you can. In the grand scheme of things, resilience and gratitude can pave the way for a brighter future. Trust me, I’m not just quoting some shit I’ve read, I’ve lived it, time and time again.

So, as I wrap up this outpouring of random thoughts, I leave you with this: Consider where your focus lies. Challenges will always arise, but life, at its core, is a series of moments to be cherished. If you are reading this, then you are here right now, living it. Embrace your life, enjoy it as much as you can, things will go wrong, but things will also go right. Make the most of it all.

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All We Are – Our Music Video Premiere is Almost Here!

This is for our amazing music lovers and adventure seekers! We’ve got some seriously exciting news to share, and trust me, you’re not going to want to miss this. We’re thrilled to announce that our brand-new music video for our latest song “All We Are” is dropping on October 25 at 5:30 pm Eastern Time, and we can hardly contain our enthusiasm!

Klee and I are bursting with excitement to reveal this labor of love to all of you. We’ve poured our hearts, souls, and a whole lot of creativity into this project, and we’re so proud of the result.

Picture this: a few days of traveling through the mesmerizing landscapes of Oil City, discovering breathtaking spots that perfectly complement the magic of our song. We’ve managed to capture what we believe is some of our finest work in the realm of music videos, and we can’t wait to share it with you.

All We Are Music Video By Better On The Drums

But that’s not all! October 25 is not just about our music video; it’s also the official release date for our new songs, which will be available on Spotify and every other music platform you can think of. It’s like a double dose of musical awesomeness! Can you feel the excitement building?

All We Are Music Video By Better On The Drums


The best part is, we want you to join us for the grand premiere of our music video. It’s not just about hitting play and watching it alone; we want to share this moment with you, our incredible supporters. We’ll all be gathering in the chat as we collectively hit that play button and experience the video for the very first time together. After our premiere, we will Go Live with our band practice at 6 pm Eastern. Click Here To Join Us On YouTube In The Chat.

Our new song holds a special place in our hearts, especially for Klee, as she penned it with love and passion. It’s an ode to our journey, not only as artists but as a couple. We’ve faced our fair share of naysayers and doubters who told us that love was just a fantasy, and our dreams were unattainable. But this song is our way of fighting back against the negativity, inspiring creativity, celebrating love, and embracing the adventure of life.

All We Are Music Video By Better On The Drums

So, if you’re in need of some inspiration, a little musical magic, and a whole lot of heart, mark your calendar for October 25 at 5:30 pm Eastern Time. We can’t wait to see your awesomeness in the chat as we all embark on this musical journey together. It’s going to be a night to remember, and we hope to see you there!

All We Are Music Video By Better On The Drums

Thanks for being a part of our musical adventure, and we can’t wait to share this incredible moment with you.

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Exciting News: Limited Edition 2024 Rafi Perez CREATIVE INSPIRATION Art Wall Calendar is Here!

Hello, my lovely art enthusiasts and art calendar lovers! The moment we’ve all been waiting for has finally arrived – the release of my brand new 2024 Creative Inspiration Art Wall Calendar! I can hardly contain my excitement as I unveil this masterpiece that’s been a labor of love and creativity for me. This year, I’ve poured my heart and soul into designing a calendar that’s not just a date-keeper but an artistic journey of inspiration.

2024 Calendars By Rafi Perez

📅 Pre-order by December 1st for Exclusive Savings!

Let’s get right into the details and why you’re going to want to snag this calendar before it’s gone.

🖊️ Signed by Yours Truly! That’s right, each calendar in this limited edition is personally signed by me, Rafi Perez. I wanted to make this calendar extra special by putting my own signature on it.

📦 Ships by December 3rd You’ll have your calendar in hand just in time for the holidays, shipped out to you on December 3rd. It’ll be like a little early holiday present!

🎨 A Year of Creative Inspiration This calendar isn’t just about marking dates; it’s about celebrating life, love, and the boundless creativity that resides within us all. I’ve curated each month to remind you of the magic that can be found in the everyday.

2024 Calendars By Rafi Perez

🌈 Monthly Inspiration Every month is adorned with vibrant, thought-provoking artwork that is sure to bring a smile to your face. Get ready to be inspired each time you turn the page.

🎉 Celebrate Quirkiness In addition to the usual holidays, I’ve sprinkled in some delightful, unusual ones. From “Make Up Your Own Holiday Day” to “Talk Like Yoda Day,” this calendar is here to keep things fun and lighthearted.

2024 Calendars By Rafi Perez

📜 2024 Calendars by Rafi Perez: The Details

  • Name: 2024 CREATIVE INSPIRATION Calendar
  • Artist: Rafi Perez
  • Paper Size: 11″ x 8.5″, staple binding, white interior paper (100# weight), full-color interior ink (279 x 216 mm)
  • Style: Modern, Contemporary Art

Each calendar comes protected in a plastic sleeve to ensure it arrives at your doorstep in perfect condition.

I hope it fills your days with joy and inspiration throughout 2024.

🌟 Don’t miss out on the pre-order discount – make sure to secure your copy by December 1st. It’s a limited edition, and once it’s gone, it’s gone!

Thank you for being a part of this amazing journey with me. Your support means the world, and I can’t wait to see my art gracing your walls throughout the coming year.

Warm regards, Rafi Perez 🎨

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The Power of Life’s Moments – My Rambles

People often ask me, “What inspires you and your art?” It’s a question that requires a deeper understanding of the creative process. While renowned artists like Picasso, Warhol, or Dali may appear to be obvious sources of inspiration, the truth is that their art, in itself, doesn’t inspire me. Rather, it is life and the experiences it offers that fuel my creativity. On this dreary day, I want to share some rambles on inspiration and how the stuff of life shapes our artistic endeavors.

Creative Inspiration Is An Interesting Beast

When we create, it comes from within us, where we observe, absorb, and reflect on our emotions and reactions to the world around us. It’s the essence of life itself. While I may draw inspiration from various sources, the tapestry of existence truly moves me. Allow me to elaborate.

Last year, I embarked on a road trip to attend my daughter’s wedding in Illinois. Due to the pandemic, it had been years since we had seen our family, making this journey even more special. As we traveled, those moments in the car allowed me to decompress and fully embrace the anticipation of reconnecting with loved ones. It was a mix of excitement, mental preparation, and the knowledge that we would experience something truly significant.

Connected To The Universe By Rafi Perez

Arriving at our destination, we were greeted with conversations, smiles, and all the interactions that make up our lives. These moments, whether joyful, heated, or melancholic, are the stuff of life. They inspire us, shape us, and teach us valuable lessons about ourselves and what we aspire to become. The art we create becomes an expression of our unique perspectives on the world and the things we often take for granted.

In a fast-paced, busy world, it’s easy to let life pass us by. We become focused on destinations and overlook the beauty of the journey itself. However, it is precisely in those small moments, the instances of triumph and joy, and even the heartaches, that we find inspiration. These experiences enable us to overcome obstacles and grow as individuals. Feeling our way through the world is the key to unlocking innovation and creativity.

I’m Born With It By Artist Rafi Perez

The Power of Authenticity & Perspective

In a society that often encourages us to suppress or hide our feelings, we must realize that our emotions are a powerful expression of our authentic selves. By embracing our feelings, we allow ourselves to be fully present and in tune with the world. It’s essential to understand that hiding our emotions equates to hiding who we are and how we perceive the world.

Perspective shapes our experiences and influences how we perceive the world. I refuse to let external conditions dictate my ideas of what it means to be successful. Instead, I immerse myself in the process of creation, cherishing the moments spent creating. It’s a reminder that our focus should be on the things that bring us happiness and fulfillment, rather than dwelling on what we lack or wishing for something better.

Becoming Tree Of Life Necklace Ocean Jasper 14k Gold Filled Klee Angelie Jewelry

From Struggle to Empowerment

In my own journey, there was a time when I wished for a better life, feeling trapped by circumstances that seemed less than ideal. But at some point, I realized that if I wanted change, I needed to take control and create the life I desired. Through risk-taking and embracing vulnerability, I started to build something amazing. And the message I want to share is that if I can do it, anyone can. We can all live a creative life, find happiness, and continue moving forward, even in the face of challenges. In your vulnerability, you will find authenticity.

Living authentically means embracing who we are and being present in every moment. It means recognizing that our thoughts, ideas, and emotions matter. When we express ourselves genuinely, whether through art, music, or other creative outlets, we invite others to connect with our unique perspective. It’s a powerful way to inspire and resonate with those who encounter our work.

Aquamarine Drop Necklace Sterling Fine Silver 18k Gold by Klee Angelie Jewelry

In a world that often pushes us to be constantly striving for more and overlooking the “now”, it’s crucial to remember that inspiration lies in the moments we experience and the emotions we feel. Life itself is the greatest source of inspiration for artists. By embracing the journey, feeling our way through the world, and living authentically, we unlock our creative potential and find fulfillment in the beauty that surrounds us.

So, the next time you find yourself caught up in the busyness of life, take a moment to pause, look around, and appreciate the simple joys. Embrace the moments, both big and small, and let them fuel your creative spirit. Remember, you have the power to shape your own perspective and create a life filled with beauty, purpose, and inspiration.

Metamorphosis By Artist Rafi Perez
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Unlock Your Creative Entrepreneurial Potential at the Creative Entrepreneur Conference!

I can’t even explain how excited we are to be a part of this event. In all my time as a working artist, I have never seen such an authentic demonstration of wanting to help our local creative community. Not only will this conference be extremely valuable to creatives, but it will also be fun.

Creative Entrepreneur Conference
An Opportunity for Creatives – Artists, Performers, Writers, and Artisans – to Learn How to be Better Entrepreneurs.
May 20, 2023

Pleasantville Camp
260 Third St., Pleasantville, PA 16341

Video About The Event

Calling all artists, performers, writers, and artisans in Northwestern Pennsylvania! Are you ready to take your creative business to new heights? We are thrilled to share an incredible opportunity with you. The Creative Entrepreneur Conference, scheduled for May 20, 2023, at Pleasantville Camp, is designed to empower and equip creatives with the knowledge and skills needed to thrive as entrepreneurs. With a diverse lineup of sessions and esteemed presenters, this conference promises to be a game-changer for your artistic ventures.

Expanding Horizons:
The Creative Entrepreneur Conference aims to bring together professionals, organizations, agencies, service providers, and practicing artists under one roof. This convergence of expertise and passion creates a unique platform for learning and growth. Whether you’re just starting or looking to elevate your existing business, this event offers invaluable insights and best practices for success.

The Power of Knowledge:
The conference agenda is packed with concurrent sessions led by experts in their respective fields. These sessions cover a wide range of topics that are essential for creative entrepreneurs. From understanding intellectual property and copyright to mastering bookkeeping and taxes, branding, marketing, online sales, and participating in fairs and festivals, you’ll find guidance on every aspect of running a successful creative business.

Prominent Presenters:
Among the remarkable presenters, we’re particularly excited about the sessions hosted by us – Rafi and Klee Studios. However, this conference brings together many creative business owners and organizations. As owners of their own successful creative studio, and creative organizations, they will share their expertise on marketing, social media, and pricing art, as well as opportunities for creative growth. Their insights will undoubtedly inspire you to find the perfect balance between profitability and creative fulfillment.

Rafi Perez Live Seminar

Opportunities Galore:
One of the highlights of the conference is the exploration of various opportunities available to creatives in Northwestern Pennsylvania and beyond. From residencies and teaching opportunities to co-ops, exhibits, festivals, and organizations seeking performers, you’ll discover a wealth of prospects to showcase your talent and expand your network. The session will be led by Ashley Fosbrink, Kylee Mader, and Barbara Pierce, who will guide you through the numerous avenues waiting to be explored.

Networking and Exhibitors:
The Creative Entrepreneur Conference offers the ideal setting to network with like-minded individuals and potential collaborators. In addition, the event features several exhibitors, including the Allegheny National Forest Artist in Residence Program, Elk County Council on the Arts, Erie Arts and Culture, and the Wilds Cooperative of PA. Engaging with these exhibitors will open doors to even more opportunities and resources tailored to support your creative endeavors.

Registration Details:
We understand the importance of making this opportunity accessible to as many individuals as possible. Thanks to a grant secured by the Forest County Business Alliance from the USDA – Rural Development Rural Business Development Grant Program, the cost to attend the entire conference, including meals, is just $75 per person. However, space is limited, so we urge you to secure your spot promptly.


To register, simply visit the online registration form and complete the process by May 18, 2023. Payment can be conveniently made via credit card. Don’t miss out on this chance to unlock your creative potential and take your business to new heights!

The Creative Entrepreneur Conference is a one-of-a-kind event that brings together creatives from across Northwestern Pennsylvania for a day filled with knowledge-sharing, networking, and inspiration. With a wide range of sessions and esteemed presenters, this conference provides a golden opportunity to learn how to thrive as a creative entrepreneur. Take the leap, register today, and embark on a transformative journey to elevate your artistic business to new heights!

For anyone who cannot make it, I will be recording the Rafi and Klee workshops and releasing them to our rogue community site members. More details on that soon.

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Sometimes People Are Just Jerks

I received an email recently from someone who listened to one of our podcasts about facing criticism, and I wanted to share the experience with you. As an artist, we lay everything out there in the arena and experience a vulnerability that not too many people encounter.

The email went like this:

Hi Rafi and Klee!
I just had to drop you a line and let you know how much I appreciate you both and the stuff you are putting out into the universe. (Long time lurker over here! I’ve been watching your videos for a very long time now.) I like to listen to your podcast while I’m in the studio – it’s like having creative friends over. Also, please forgive this super long email.

In today’s podcast, Rafi mentioned that someone left a negative review on one of his books, and how ultimately he didn’t care, even though it dragged down his star rating. You have no idea how helpful it was for me to hear this! I have had books of mine on Amazon, and I eventually took them all down because I just couldn’t take the reviews. (They were just coloring books, but entirely filled with my hand-drawn original art.) In my second to most recent book, I was so proud of it. I worked really hard on it, and it was absolutely the best work I could do at the time. And guess what? The first review was a one-star review, absolutely eviscerating it. They even took photos of the pages they thought were particularly awful, some of which were actually best-selling prints for me. I was devastated, and I took the book down shortly after. I felt like I had produced a faulty “product”, not a heartfelt work of creativity, and it was my responsibility to get it away from the public. (I would later go on to give digital copies of this book away during the pandemic, and lots of people loved it and sent me the nice kind of photos, so maybe it wasn’t total trash?)
Your comment today struck my heart in a good way. I’m starting to see that the opinion of one random person ultimately doesn’t matter, and it shouldn’t keep me from putting my work out there. It sounds really obvious when I type it out, but it’s a real breakthrough for me!

That book is still off Amazon… but I just released a new one. Here’s hoping I don’t totally chicken out on marketing it! (To be clear – I never stopped putting my paintings out there… but I’ve been doing so in the quietest, most risk adverse way possible. For years!)

Thank you both so much for providing so much encouragement and wisdom! You are really making a difference in people’s lives for the better. Keep on being awesome!

Claire Chambers ~ Chickenpants Studio
Someone criticized this work and I sold it a day later.

As a creative person, putting your work out into the world can be a vulnerable experience. When you put your heart and soul into something, you want it to be well-received. Unfortunately, negative feedback can hit hard and be discouraging. This has happened to me countless times.

Sometimes a review can feel like a reflection of your abilities and that maybe you have failed. It’s easy to be devastated and be tempted to retreat from the world. However, you shouldn’t let one person’s opinion affect you.

Some people out there will be uplifting and encouraging. Some, not so much. Negative feedback is just part of the creative process and you shouldn’t let it bring you down. People are weird fickle creatures whose motivation is usually prompted by their own emotional state. The person who left the negative review was probably having a bad day and decided to take it out on the book. However, you show courage by releasing a new book and sharing it anyway.

Someone said something hateful about this, five minutes later this awesome person purchased it.

Experiences like this have taught me that putting yourself out there is scary but worth it. It’s okay to receive negative feedback, but it’s important to keep creating and sharing your work regardless. One person’s opinion doesn’t define your worth as a creative person.

Personally, if I listened to hateful reviews, I would not share art, podcasts, or videos. If you’re a creative person struggling with negative feedback, know you’re not alone. Keep pushing through and keep creating – the world needs your unique perspective and creativity.

People may use your art to blow off steam by attacking it, but your job is not to retreat. Your job is to keep pushing forward, persist and show how meaningless being hateful is. Only a handful of hateful people out there get a lot of attention because they can get under your skin. Ignore them. Don’t give them your power by buying into what they are saying. Just keep being your awesome self.

That’s why it’s also important to surround yourself with genuine creatives who will be honest and support you, because there is a BIG difference between constructive criticism and someone going out of their way to totally destroy someone’s creation. So, to the one-star reviewer who spent time taking pictures and feeling all high and mighty leaving a hateful review, “you can eat a bag.”

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The New You, And Hope

The Holiday season has come and gone. As Klee and I prepared for our long winter nap and reflection, I was struck by an important question. Who are you today? I mean, I know who I am, right? Surprisingly, the answer is no. The fact is that we change and evolve with every experience we have.

Listening to the gusts of wind and snow pummel my house, I was taken back to my childhood and some experiences and people that helped make me who I am today. These moments, conversations, struggles, and highlights taught me valuable lessons. However, if I am candid with myself, it is just a narrative I have repeated so much that it has become a reality. Everything I remember from my past is a construct of my design. I watched much TV as a kid and absorbed characters like Mr. Rogers and Bob Ross. They impacted me by introducing me to something I wasn’t surrounded by. Hope. But was it real?

Maybe it was the holidays or that Klee and I decided to take some time off from all the craziness and reset, but I can’t help wondering why I do what I do.

Anyone following our journey knows the last few years have been full of adventurous tales.

Rafi and Klee are waiting for a call from realtor

Some of you know that we moved last year, and to say it has been a crazy rollercoaster ride is an understatement. Let’s be honest, the last few years have been a bit of an insane ride, and I finally feel like we are getting to some semblance of normal. Well, normal for us. As I reflect, I think about how our lives changed dramatically and the toll it took on us.

The true craziness started in 2020 when the world shut down, and everyone fought amidst a pandemic. Klee and I spent a lot of time navigating the changes that would have to come with our art business. No longer able to do local shows for income, we needed to adapt and change our strategy. As we watched our bank account dwindle, we struggled to find footing. The truth is, spending a lot of time indoors and away from others wasn’t bothering us at all. Klee and I are artists. That’s normal for us. We spend a lot of time in our studio. We also really like each other, so nothing much had changed. It felt like the world around us was changing, or maybe we were paying closer attention since we weren’t distracted by markets and shows. Things sometimes felt a bit dark, but we kept our spirits up.

Because we needed to take a new direction, we focused a little more on connecting with artists online. We started a community of Rogue artists from all over the world. We wanted to create a safe place for creatives to interact and share ideas. We began to invest more time in our online efforts. We built a community, started a podcast, and uploaded more videos. We also supported the artists in our local area whenever we could. Then hurricane Sally hit our area, and everything shut down twice over. To say that 2020 was challenging doesn’t quite sum up the year. Let’s say the term dumpster fire is a better description.

Rafi And Klee Zoom Meetings During 2020

Enter 2021, and things are slowly coming out of the worst of the pandemic, but there are still a lot of heightened emotions and arguments in the world. As much as people wanted to talk and argue politics, I wanted nothing to do with that conversation. At this point, we had our eyes set on moving, but we were still trying to navigate the financial effects of 2020. I was writing my second and third books, organizing the art for a large exhibition, planning an adventure to the north, and figuring out how to afford to purchase a new home.

We had wanted to move from the apartment we had been living in for a while. The truth is we had outgrown it years earlier, and other factors involved made it a somewhat challenging environment for what we do. With every year that passed, the challenges became more prominent. Every year, however, we would put it off until the following year. This was most likely due to fear. As much as we wanted to move, we knew how to navigate our environment, which was comfortable (as in our comfort zone, which has nothing to do with real comfort). We finally reached a point where we had no other option but to move on and leave the apartment behind. Things had gotten beyond challenging, and we were determined to escape the situation we had put ourselves in by living in the apartment. We decided that even if we had to live in our car, get rid of everything, and start over again, we were willing to do that. It was time for a change.

Of course, the odds were stacked against us. Self-employed artists are at the lowest rung of banking loan opportunities, but we didn’t care this time. We were going to make it happen. Towards the end of the year, we gathered what we had saved from successful art shows and proceeded to travel the country and look for a new home. We eventually landed in Oil City, which had an artist’s relocation program to revitalize this once-boom town. The city is beautiful, and we found a house that we immediately fell in love with. It was our dream home. Our offer was accepted, and it was time to return, pick up our belongings, and start our new life.

Upon arriving at the apartment, we found that a leak from an air-conditioner had devastated Klee’s jewelry bench and tools. The water had also gotten underneath the protective tarp surrounding the studio. This meant that we would have to tear things down at a hurried pace. Exhausted from our travels, we jumped into taking the studio apart, buying a house long distance, organizing another art show, collecting art from around town, and getting ready to move our lives across the country.

Klee trying to recover her damaged jewelry bench and tools

The studio was shut down during all this, and we could not take any orders. This meant we were not making any money.

It was a month of constant exhaustion and heavy lifting that ended with us throwing everything into a 26-foot U-Haul before our landlords showed up with their own Uhaul (who needed us to move ours out of the way, but that’s a whole other story). We put our jeep on the tow dolly and navigated our way to our new town, stopping to nap at a Truckstop and racing against time to make it to our new home for the closing.

Once we were at the house, the challenges continued. We knew that buying an older home would require updates and repairs. However, we did not expect no-shows, delays, and a lack of good contractors. The house needed new electrical, plumbing, and other repairs before we could open our studio. At this point, the studio had been shut down for months.

Finally, eight months into 2021, we opened the art studio and jumped right into taking commissions and opening up our online store. We were in our dream home, and life was good. However, it was nonstop, and my body couldn’t take it anymore. The move and pushing my body too far caused debilitating pain. I pushed on anyhow.

We organized a two-month gallery show, released two books, music, volunteered, and worked on commissions all while we did repairs for our new home and built our lives back up. All the while feeling like we would never catch up and get back on track. We pushed through the holiday orders and finally got to a place where we could catch our breath.

Honestly, all of this would have been fine, it is just the luck of being busy as an artist who just moved to a new town. However, on the back end, everything we had in place to run our art business was old and outdated. Systems needed an overhaul, and everything was more complicated than it needed to be.

Enter the break.

Towards the end of 2022, we decided to take a few months off to get ourselves organized and restructured. During that time, we released the last audiobook, built a Rogue Artist Community site, created systems for our business (giving us more time for creativity), finished building our art studio, and updated our website and webstore.

Another artist I know said, “I’m jealous. I wish we could take a few months off and relax.”

Relaxing is next on our list lol.

My reflection on these last few years has taught me that no matter what is thrown at you, nothing can stand in your way as long as you are determined to keep going. However, making time for self-care and relaxation is paramount. We may be able to climb mountains, but you have to stop and rest along the way.

I can sit here and bitch about all the struggles we have had, but honestly, that’s just life. How we handle them and reflect is really what matters. We may still be recovering physically and financially, but what drives me forward is the same thing I was introduced to as a child. Hope. The difference is I surround myself with it now.

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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?