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.

Where Does Inspiration Come From?

Rafi And Klee Studios

I’m writing this because sometimes I don’t feel as creative as usual. There are days where I’m just staring at a blank canvas, or the cursor blinking on a blank screen as I attempt to write my book.

With my book in particular, I’ve been stuck. I’ve been in a middle-earth of wanting to write, but can’t.

I am writing this right now to Be Raw. To Be Real. To Be Honest.

To Be Present.

For me, inspiration starts the moment that I just focus on this moment right now. The joy of writing this line. The idea that one of you may read this. It’s inspiring. As long as I allow myself to go there.

Inspiration does not magically show up when I snap my fingers. Although, there are days that I wish it worked that way.

Sometimes I’m on fire… other times it’s more of a tiny flame

Inspiration for me is like a small buzzing of a bumble bee that is skipping from flower to flower. Fuzzy concepts and ideas that don’t have any solid foundation.

And then, just like that — Poof. It’s gone. The tiny bumble bee turns into a grouchy old man yelling words of self-doubt, self-apprehension, and indecision into my brain hole.

“Shit, I had it!”

The crumpled piece of paper.

Sometime I just have to be Patient, Open, and Honest.

And Present.

Because, inspiration comes from inside of us. It comes when you least expect it, or when you most expect it. It is your best friend, or a bitter ex girlfriend. It could be an inspiring memory, or a new experience. It comes from moments of frustration, fire and passion. It comes usually when you are ready to give up.

Ultimately, your inspiration is you. It’s how you see the world. So no matter how stuck you may feel.

Don’t give up yet… and keep smiling.

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.

Today Is The Last Day For Calendars

Ho Ho Ho and such! I’ve got some important news about ordering, Holiday shipping times, and all the craziness involved.

I also wanted to make sure you guys are aware that today is the last day to order Calendars. That is December 5th, 2018 until 11:59PM Central Time. At midnight I will be pulling the listings down. Thank you so much to everyone that ordered a Calendar! I appreciate you guys so much.

Calendars

Last year some people missed the deadline, and wanted to know if I can “help a brotha out” but alas I could not, and I felt really bad about it, but it would have messed up the orders that were already placed.

Also, in the last blog I put information about holiday ordering and shipping times, it’s important, so I’m going to share it again.

Calendar-2019-button

HOLIDAY ORDERING AND SHIPPING FROM RAFI AND KLEE

Order cutoff dates are as follows, to ensure timely delivery for Christmas. Domestic orders (continental US), for bespoke (made to order) items: December 11th. Limited collection (ready to ship) items: Dec 17th. All international orders: December 3rd.

Order-Deadline-Rafi-and-Klee

Shipping time

Usually, it takes 2-7 business days, but most shipping companies do not work during weekends. Strikes, severe weather conditions, flight delays, increased volumes, and other unforeseeable issues may cause an increase in shipping time. So keep that in mind.

The Happy Art Tour THAT
The Happy Art Tour THAT

Oh, btw… You’re awesome and we love you. I know it’s been all business with deadlines and ordering for the Holidays, so I want to take the time out to say, I really appreciate you and thank you for being so supportive.

-Rafi

 

Calendar Ship Date And Updates

I am so appreciative and grateful of the response I’ve been getting to the Calendars. I’ll be honest, I was a bit surprised at how many of you showed excitement over the new designs. Truly, from my heart, I thank you.NOB-Mockup-8

My plan is to have all the calendars ready to ship no later than December 15th, which will put the calendar in your hands before Christmas. My goal is to ship them the same day I get them from the printer, so it may ship earlier, either way I will keep you updated.

Once the deadline passes in 4 days, its go time. That’s when the craziness begins and the process truly gets started. Speaking of deadlines, I noticed that there are several calendars sitting in carts, I really hope whoever you are, you don’t miss the deadline, because once I have my final order number, that’s it, these are coming down.

Rafi-Calendar-in-carts

If you haven’t gotten one yet, please order online, by following the link below. I have it set up this way so that I can keep track of the orders. I will not be selling calendars in person at the market, sorry.

shop-now

A Letter To Myself In A Moment Of Darkness vs Light

I wanted to let you guys in on a process that I do when I’m feeling overwhelmed or dark. I write a letter to myself and then respond from a different point of view. This isn’t something that someone typically shares with folks, but I know I’m not typical, so here it is.

Warning, you may read things that concern you, don’t worry, I’m fine, this is just a way to get the feelings out in their rawest form.

“Dear self,

This week has been a tough week for me. I’ve been wading through an emotional cesspool of insecurities and old painful memories. As a result my environment has lost some of it’s vibrant color. I am walking around in a world that I recognize, yet haven’t visited in a long time. It is a dark grey world in which the sunlight is nonexistent. For a person such as myself, an artist who thrives on vibrant colors and light, this is what I imagine hell would feel like.

Rafi Stressed

It’s interesting to me that when your mind takes you to a dark place, it seems like the entire world has conspired against you. It’s like you’re in a movie and the set design is based on the overall feeling of the main character. You watch yourself on the silver screen of life following an old dramatic script that you have rehearsed so many times that it seems like it all comes so naturally. You are the main character, yet no one else is experiencing what you are experiencing, feeling isolated and alone, surrounded by smiling faces, yet totally by yourself.

So, my question is this, what do I do now?”

Rafi in a messy art studio

After a short pause… I read the letter, take a deep breath and respond as best I can.

“Dear Dramatic Self,

Good question! Well, you get off your ass and out of your head. Listen, I understand that sometimes shit happens. You are going through a point in your life that might be transitional. Maybe you feel like you lost a sense of direction, maybe you are going through something emotionally taxing, maybe some button got pushed that hasn’t been pushed for a long time, maybe things just suck right now. No matter what it is, you have every excuse to feel the way you do, but that’s the thing, they’re just excuses.

In my opinion, things that people call emotionally chronic are simply practiced. You’ve spent years practicing how to be dramatic and respond to certain thoughts or situations in a certain way. That dramatic script you mentioned is a real thing, people can follow the same script over and over in their lives without even wondering if they can change it. They can feel like their thoughts are thinking them, instead of them thinking their thoughts. 

Do What You Can Rafi Perez

You find yourself in a rut and what do you do? You sit, slump, cry, withdraw, and replay events over and over in your mind, and repeat. You find something or someone to blame for what you are feeling. Maybe you even pull yourself momentarily out of your funk by putting all your energy into being angry at this person or situation. Yet, nothing changes, this just keeps replaying over and over in your life. So much so, that you think this is just the way it is, “this is my life”.

You believe your story, you shape the world after your story, and discount anything that challenges that story. The story has to be true, if it wasn’t true, then it means you are torturing yourself for nothing.

Well, guess what? It is true. It’s true because you think it’s true, and your brilliant mind is going to do everything in it’s power to make it the truest thing you have ever experienced. Your doubt is going to punch you in the face, your insecurities about yourself are going to knock you down, your judgments and fear about people will come true, and everything you surround yourself with will be a constant reminder of your misery and fear. 

Rafi Perez

Do you know what else is true? That your courage will destroy anything doubt can throw at you. Your determination will pick you up when you fall, stronger and better equipped than ever before. Your hope and unconditional love will present itself to you in overwhelming love and kindness, and everything around you will glow with vibrancy and light, this being a constant reminder of your sense of optimism and hope.

It’s ALL true… Every last bit. The question isn’t who is right or wrong, or what is true or untrue, or what you should or should not do… but simply, what would you rather do? How would you rather feel? What would you rather think? What do you want to focus on? Who do you want to be? And what do you want to believe, right now… in this moment?

Office Decorated By Rafi Perez

We don’t carry feelings in our pocket, or find them in a box buried somewhere. We produce those feelings based on our perspectives and beliefs about ourselves and the world around us. You can believe what ever it is you want to believe about yourself and what is possible for you, and you can do that right now.

Honestly, this moment is all we really ever have, this moment, right now. So make a choice, despite the script you have been rehearsing all your life. Just make a choice.

Now quit whining and pick yourself up like the awesome person I know you to be.

With Much Love, -Rafi”

And that’s it! Welcome to my world of crazy 🙂

 

 

 

 

Do What You Can With What You Have

There was once a boy who wanted to be an artist. This boy spent all his time planning and thinking about a way to be able to accomplish this. He knew that everything needed to be perfect. He would need all the best equipment, all the best education, and most of all, enough pieces to justify showing and being taken seriously.

Do What You Can Rafi Perez

In case you are wondering, this boy was me, and that plan was crap.

I couldn’t ever seem to create enough work to justify showing my art. As far as getting the best, anytime I purchased some equipment, something better would come along that I now needed to get. Not to mention, I was stuck working the family business and didn’t have time for school… not that I could afford it.

So, I spent most of my life wishing and eventually giving up on an art career.

Do What You Can Rafi Perez

It was only a few years ago that I just jumped in and did it. I pretty much had nothing to get started, but I had enough.

I had a bit of crappy old paint, some poster board someone donated to me, and some old pieces of wood. Most of all, I had people around me that didn’t discourage me, well… mostly… kinda.

I realized I had it all wrong back in the day. It wasn’t about waiting until everything was perfect, because that is an unattainable goal. It was about getting started with what you had. I also learned that it’s OK to start small… as long as you start.

Do What You Can Rafi Perez

Listen, I feel like the worst thing we can do in life is regret not doing something. That means being willing to fall on your face, pick yourself up and keep trying, at least until you make it, or you just don’t care anymore.

It came down to one question:

Are you willing to fall on your face, look like an idiot and put yourself through hell to accomplish what you want? Sure.

…and, just keep moving, even if you fall down… just keep moving.

Do What You Can Rafi Perez

So, if you have something that you’ve been wanting to do, go ahead and start… start small, it doesn’t have to be a grand gesture… just a bunch of micro gestures.

Those small steps add up over time, and take you further than waiting around for the perfect moment.

Besides, why not just do it? You don’t have to quit anything, you don’t have to leap over a tall building… just take a step.

 

The Nature Of Love

Nature Of Love By Rafi Perez

I have a series called the nature of being, or as some people like to call them “Rafi’s Lady Trees.” This year I have really enjoyed reigniting the series as I set a goal to add subtle differences to the message in pieces within the series itself.

Nature Of Love By Rafi Perez
Nature Of Love By Rafi Perez

The series itself is about being rooted here and now in your world, yet constantly growing and reaching higher than you ever have, naturally and organically. It’s about being flexible and naked to the world and showing yourself as you are, never hiding behind a facade of fear.

I wanted to showcase a unity within the scope of the collection with pieces that showed masculine and feminine intertwined with one another.

Nature Of Love By Rafi Perez
Nature Of Love By Rafi Perez

These pieces are inspired by the journey that I have been on with my beautiful wife Klee and some of the lessons I have learned about what it means to be in love.

In the past I always assumed that being with someone meant that it was your job to make sure they were happy, and in return it was their job to make you happy.

Yet, this never seemed to work out.

Nature Of Love By Rafi Perez
Nature Of Love By Rafi Perez

It wasn’t until experience brought me to a place where I started to question the status quo of relationships and love that I realized that I had it all wrong.

It wasn’t about making the other person happy, it was about finding your happiness and sharing that with the other person. This in no way was a guarantee that it would make them happy, but that was alright. See, I found that the only person that could really make me happy was me and it was unfair to try and throw that burden onto Klee… She had enough on her plate just trying to make herself happy.

Nature Of Love By Rafi Perez
Nature Of Love By Rafi Perez

It was during that realization that I started to understand unconditional love. It meant that I had no conditions or expectations that she would behave a certain way in order for me to be happy, she had the right to be herself. To express herself and continue on her journey of finding out what life was all about for her.

I did the same, and we shared those moments with each other, talking about our experiences and realizations. We also share in our moments of growth as we journey on this road to find what makes us happy and how to enjoy our lives to the fullest.

It is quite beautiful.

Nature Of Love By Rafi Perez
Nature Of Love By Rafi Perez

I’m not saying there haven’t been moments of turmoil, because we all experience them, but with every moment there has always been an honest revelation and a stronger bond than ever before.

The thing is, we are both growing, learning, changing, evolving, on our own, yet our lives are intertwined because we choose to walk side by side.

It just wouldn’t work if one of us decided to carry the other… and it wouldn’t look as cool in a painting.

-Rafi

The Substance Of Reality And Balloons

Balloon Man By Rafi Perez

Recently I created a painting titled “The Substance Of The Real.” It shows a rather stoic, old century style, statue of a man struggling to hold on to a big red balloon on a string.

The statement for this piece is as follows:

 ABOUT THIS PAINTING
So many things that we hold near and dear… thoughts, beliefs, or habits, we hardly ever question. Yet, many of those hold no substance. This piece is meant to be a daily reminder to question everything, to look closely at your own motivations, and to determine what is true for you… Not to ferociously hold on to something that you don’t quite understand. 

Balloon Man By Rafi Perez
Balloon Man By Rafi Perez

Now, I wanted to clarify something about this piece and my belief in what is real in the world. I know that a lot of spiritual beliefs state that the world is an illusion, and a lot of people will be surprised to hear that I don’t believe that.

I do believe that we live in a delusion… I know, let me explain.

I don’t believe that the world is unreal in of itself. It becomes an illusion when we look at it. We look at the world through our filter of understanding, through the eyes of our knowledge, understanding, prejudices, judgments, love, ideas, opinions, and current circumstances.

Balloon Man By Rafi Perez
Balloon Man By Rafi Perez

That world is unreal in the same way that a dream is unreal, because it’s based on delusion. The world is just there minding it’s own business, open for interpretation, it is our interpretation that is the illusion, and thus the way we see the world is an illusion based on our own beliefs.

Balloon Man By Rafi Perez
Balloon Man By Rafi Perez

You take two people to see a symphony, they sit in similar seats, have the same physical experience, and yet they will have a completely unique experience. One person tells you it was terrible, the other will say it was amazing… who’s right? who’s wrong?

Whoever you agree with the most will be right, and the other person will be wrong.

I like the idea of questioning the whole delusion… Cause, you know, I can’t be right ALL the time, and chances are a lot of what I believe has the substance of a red balloon.

Balloon Man By Rafi Perez
Balloon Man By Rafi Perez

In my opinion, you get to choose how you feel about the world, people, politics, religion, love, relationships, anything and everything.

If you ever find yourself repeating some crappy saying that you’ve just never thought about, I suggest you look at that. Where did it come from, some older generation that maybe didn’t have their shit together yet? Maybe an old racist uncle? A victimized mother? A womanizing father? A corrupt grandfather? A jealous aunt? A hypochondriac grandmother? All people that love me, all good people, just screwed up.

I say question everything, remember that the world you see is your delusion, and that you get to decide how you feel about the world you see. You can choose love, and not hold on so vehemently to those beliefs that are outdated.

Don’t Forget To Just Have Fun

I know that a lot of people out there assume that I spend my days blissfully ignorant to the real world, carefree as I float on my cloud across my studio painting feverishly. I assume that when they think this, they are either hopeful that one may chose to live that way, or spiteful that I don’t take life seriously enough to grow up.

Office Decorated By Rafi Perez

Yet, as much as I would love to live that way, I don’t have a cloud that can support my weight.

Here’s the thing, us human beings doing what ever it is that we are doing in our short yet miraculous lives, tend to take ourselves seriously.

Even as a guy who spends his days mixing paint and finger painting, I can easily play the adult.

Rafi Painting Bird Series

Have you ever watched kids when they play a grown up? They get all stern and furrow brow as they shake their pointed finger angrily… and guess what, we never stop pretending, we just actually believe it’s true.

I think that growing up and watching the adults around us stress out over the things in their lives, causes us to believe that is the way you act when you are an adult. Responsibility equals stress, or at least that’s what we think it’s supposed to mean.

Rafi in front of his turtle

I’ve found myself stressing out every once in a while when I have commissions and deadlines, which then causes me to become devoid of creativity, which then causes more stress.

I’ve found that in an attempt to have ourselves taken seriously we tend to complicate our lives by pretending to be serious adults. We stress out over things and try to figure out the solutions while focused on the problem.

I could tell you two things from experience, it doesn’t work, and it’s killing your body.

Rafi and Klee Silly In Art Studio

My solution, or at least what I attempt to do every day (which I can easily fail miserably at) is to simply have fun and not give a rip whether ANYONE takes you seriously or not.

Just do you, your way, the way that you want to, in the most funnest way…

Life is going to happen anyway, you are going to solve your problems, or not. Either way, stressing out about it isn’t doing you or anyone else, any good.

You might as well remember and practice how to have fun.