When I first started to get interested in art and in the artworld and everything that there is to know about it I did what you do nowadays, I looked for answers on youtube. Probably you have done this too…and probably then you have also found Rafi and Klee´s youtube channel “Rafi was here studios”. If you against all odds haven´t I strongly suggest you do. You will find so many great advices and solutions to any problem you can face as an artist today. I love that channel and I try to get the time to look at every new release…now, that´s enough as an intro. Here´s the interview:
Me: Hi Rafi! Believe it or not, I may have (though I doubt it) readers who might not now about you…(possible explanation; not everybody is youtube’oholics🤣) so can you give a short presentation of yourself please, who are you?
Rafi: I am some dude married to a wonderfully creative human and we create art for a living. In our journey as artists, she and I wanted to share the emotional side of what we do with other creatives. I realized that the biggest roadblock that a creative runs into is not the outside factors, but what happens in our mind and heart. So we started a youtube channel and started sharing.
Me:….and what do you do?
Rafi: I guess I just consider myself a creative human. I’m not that into labels, I know people like to say things like, “I am a painter.” I don’t think there is anything wrong with that, but I like to paint, draw, play music, film video, illustrate, write, make jewelry, and anything else I may fancy at the moment. But the question, “what do you do?” hmmmm… I breathe, I think, I stay curious, I try to inspire through anything I create… I guess, what I do is try to leave the world a little more colorful and brighter than it was when I came into it.
Me: When and how did you make yourself “famous”, how did you make your big breakthrough? Or was it more just a gradual process?
Rafi: I don’t really consider myself famous, I think I’m too awkward for that kind of title. I do acknowledge that we have people interested in what we have to say, but I always feel that it is a mutual friendship… Like we slowly found like-minded people. It definitely did not happen overnight, no one was interested in what we had to say in the beginning, but we kept sharing. That has lead to a very strong core and like-minded community of creatives that all inspire us as much, if not even more than we may inspire them. I would always aim for gradual than a big breakthrough… just more meaningful that way.
Me: Do you enjoy creating youtube content as much as you enjoy painting?
Rafi: Absolutely, I just see it as part of my creation. With every painting, I am trying to say something about my own journey of finding my empowerment even within struggles. I do the same thing with everything else I create. That might sound deep but it’s not. I can easily be wanting to communicate, “focus on the little things that make you feel strong” and paint a painting with a figure focusing on a glowing butterfly to symbolize change. I can film a video, write a blog, record a podcast about the same subject. I feel like anything we create is part of our communication, so it is all the same thing to me.
Me: If It’s not rude or anything to ask, what’s the biggest source of income for you, is it youtube, your artworks…or something Else?
Rafi: It comes from art. Honestly, I’m not great at making money on youtube because I hardly ever do sponsored videos. I have to truly believe that the product will benefit the people watching our vids, and usually, they don’t. Our audience trusts us and we are not willing to lose that trust to make an extra buck. We have paid ads on most of our videos (youtube commercials) but that doesn’t really cover much. I think the first year we made about $7 a month on paid ads and now it fluctuates between $100 and up, so not much. Our videos were actually costing us money to make for several years as we would invest in equipment little by little. When we started Patreon a year ago that evened out a little, but honestly, if we didn’t enjoy our YouTube community and sharing the videos, we would have quit YouTube a long time ago because financially, it just wasn’t worth it. That’s why I don’t let finances dictate my choices… worst-case scenario is that I’m broke for a while, and I know how to do that so it’s no big deal.
Me: For those who would like to make a name of themselves in the artworld, what is your best advice?
Me: Put yourself out there, come up with hare-brained ideas and go for it, but do not chase the fame or the money because you may end up somewhere you didn’t want to actually be. You need to let people know you exist and you have to give people time to develop trust when it comes to you and your art. That means you are going to have NOTHING happening for a while. You have to push through that suck and keep creating and sharing as if you have a billion people following you. Also, remember, we are connecting with like-minded humans, not wallets with legs, so don’t lose your humanity chasing after a sale.
Me: You are also a writer/author right? Tell us about your book, what will it be about? When can we buy it?
Rafi: I am. I have a book out now called The Rogue Artist’s Survival Guide and it talks about empowering yourself to blaze your own trail as an artist and not fall for all the outdated systems that are in the art world. I am now working on an anti-marketing marketing book about putting yourself out there. I am also (because I love challenging myself to do the impossible) working on a book called “making art, making money” which ventures into the financial side. All my books deal with the internal and external conundrums we face as creatives in a world that is not really sure if they value creativity or not. My marketing and money books will be available in November of 2021.
Me: Have you ever released a youtube vid that you thought afterward “What the hell have I done…how could I do this” and called it back/erased it?
Rafi: Lol, back in the very early days, but at this point, I’m like, “whatever.” The old videos were bad and I was (and still am) very self-conscious. A few years ago, I released a video where I talked about my past struggles with suicide, and once I posted it, it took every ounce of everything in me to not delete it. We have this fear of putting ourselves out there in a deep way because of the haters, trolls, or just embarrassment… I shared the video because I didn’t think enough people out there were talking about their experience and thus anyone facing those issues typically feels isolated and alone. I wanted to say “hey, we all have some shit… no one lives in a world of unicorn farts, we all have the things we have to face… there is NOTHING wrong with you.” Either way, there are things I look back at and cringe a little, but I still love it. I was scared, awkward, and afraid, and yet, I put myself out there. So yes I cringe when I watch some old videos, but I cringe with pride.
Me: Help me out man…🤣…ask yourself something, like something interesting…then off course you get to answer the question.
Rafi: What do you hope to accomplish with everything you are doing? Do you have an end goal?
Rafi: Ultimately, I want to share empowerment. I want people to know that life can suck and things may not work out, because things rarely do. If you get up, if you keep going, if you persist through the suck, if you pivot but keep moving, and if you don’t quit… then it is impossible to fail… You can do anything. There is never an end, things just keep evolving, and I doubt we will ever reach the end, which is awesome because it is all about the journey.
Me: If you like to, you can ask me something😁…shoot!
Rafi: What do you hope to accomplish with everything you are doing? Do you have an end goal? GO!
Me: When it comes to my own art-creating…and what I want to accomplish with that I think I´d have to say that I have more than one goal with it. I would like my creations to be found by people who appreciate them the way I do. It would be really great to some day be able to live of the earnings from my creations. The goal with this site, the Artisterviews is also more than one. I want it to be a small steppingstone for other creatives out there, a steppingstone among others towards reaching their goals and dreams. I believe strongly that it is more important to give than to recieve. Those who sow will reap…so, I try to sow some good karma and I´ll find out sooner or later if it works. If it works, fine, great, if it doesn´t I have at least (I hope) made some kind of contribution to other great people/creators out there. I like to experiment. Sometimes I don´t know for sure about my reasons…and sometimes I think that what I do is to try to find meaning. That´s something very human and I believe fundamental, something that really connects the most of us, the search and the need for meaning. We all want to feel important in some way, however small we need to feel that what we do matters. This whole thing called “life” is maybe a school in where we´re supposed to learn and grow, the search for ones purpose is a big part then…I guess.
Me: So, where can we find your amazing artwork?
You can find us at rafiandklee.com
Wow, thank you Rafi! It was really interesting to do this and as always with Rafi, it was very educating too.
Below are a few examples of Rafi´s amazing work…