VH World: Kitiya Palaskas
If you live in Melbourne (or Australia, really), you've probably come face-to-face with the work of Kitiya Palaskas—whether you know it, or not. Best known for her oversized props and saturated retro aesthetic, Kitiya has been working as a craft-based designer for over 12 years for the likes of Adobe, Lily Allen, Peter Alexander and Disney. We were recently lucky enough to venture over to the studio of this Melbourne craft legend, to chat about crafting, creativity and inspiration.
Tell us a little about who you are
I'm Kitiya Palaskas, I'm a craft-based designer and the founder of Kitiya Palaskas Studio, which is a full-service design studio that specialises in working with brands all around the world to elevate their campaigns, using hand-made techniques, reinterpreted in contemporary ways.
How did you get into crafting and craft-based design?
I went to art school, I studied print-making and drawing, but I never actually did any print-making or drawing! I was really into craft from a young age, so a lot of my work centred around incorporating craft-based stuff into the print and drawing landscape.
After I graduated from art-school, I realised I didn't have any skills to monetise what I wanted to do, to monetise my creative talents, so I fell into the fashion industry and decided to start my own fashion and accessories label in the first year of Etsy. So it was a really great time to start something like that, because Etsy was brand new, it was a captive audience, so I was able to gain some traction having my own indie fashion label on there.
During that time I was assisting a styling to get a little bit more industry experience and she started to notice that I really loved craft. She would get me to make all these bespoke props and set pieces for her shoots. And then she would suggest me to other creative directors, art directors and stylists as well.
So bit-by-bit, I started to build a name for myself as a person who could create these bespoke, hand-made things for commercial shoots, design, advertising, retail displays etc.
And that's how I got started. I fell into it and didn't realise it was a career until it was.
What's the best thing about your job?
There are so many awesome aspects to being a craft-based designer, but I think, if I had to pick one, it would be doing what i'm truly passionate about and what I love everyday and getting paid for it. I'm 12 years in now and sometimes I still just think about that when I'm sitting there making a giant, life-sized donkey piñata, I'm just like "wow, I get to craft for a job, that's pretty cool!"
And if I'm having a bad day, I do have to remind myself, "remember, you're doing what you love".
And the worst?
I am usually my own worst enemy, so I am probably the person that gives myself a bad day, it's not so much a client or the environment or anything. I tend to—like a lot of creative people—have a lot of self doubt and sometimes a bit of self confidence issues and some imposter syndrome issues. I think that's very common, across the board.
What's inspiring you at the moment?
At the moment I am really getting into applique and patchwork. This is huge for me, because when I was younger—my mum's a real prolific quilter and she does a lot of applique and patchwork and she's really good at it—and when I was younger I always tried to do it too, but I just didn't have the patience to do the hand-stitching of things for the applique, or to just sit there and make a whole bed quilt.
But I've really come into it lately and I feel like maybe I am in the right place now to have the patience to complete a project like that. So I'm getting really inspired by a lot of retro applique and patchwork projects, and I'm just trying my hand at it to see if I can actually finish a project for once.
What are some of your favourite past projects?
One of my favourite projects is this giant poppy—as you do, you make giant poppies. I love anything that is like a huge version of an everyday thing, or a super tiny version of an everyday thing. There's this psychology behind people who love that kind of stuff and I'm definitely one of the. I made this for a client, it was a DIY project where I showed how you can make your own and I'm just obsessed with the way it looks and the colour is so vibrant, and it makes a really good statement piece in my studio.
Another one of my favourite projects is something that hasn't officially been launched yet—there's just been a couple of teasers announced. I was really lucky to illustrate the cover of Melissa Leong's new children's book. The whole cover design is made out of papercraft motifs.
The most recent that I've worked on is an applique patchwork wall hanging. This is something that I created using my Cricut machine, cutting out the pieces digitally and then stitching everything by hand. So it's a real mashup of digital and analogue techniques, which I love, and it's very retro, which I think suits my studio really well too.
What advice would you give to someone who is venturing into the world of DIY or crafting?
I think the biggest piece of advice that I would give is to just get started. There's a lot of stuff that goes on in our minds that can sabotage starting a new venture, a new project, a new business idea, or trying to learn a new skill.
I think we talk ourselves out of stuff all the time. And there is a pressure, I feel, these days, to be perfect all the time. Especially on social media and stuff like that. So perhaps you don't want to get started, or you're intimidated about getting started because you think you need to be perfect and know it all straight away, but you really don't.
Make your own hand-made envelope!
We teamed up with Kitiya to create this super cute DIY tutorial for a handmade envelope, using our much loved Cooktown Orchid print. You can use whatever paper you like (we think recycled is best!), and if you make your own, be sure to share it with over on our socials @varietyhour_ and @kitiyapalaskas.
Watch the tutorial:
Thank you Kitiya!!