Say hi to Kitiya Palaskas, a multi-disciplinary craft-based designer focused on reimagining traditional handmade techniques in contemporary ways.
Kit specialises in prop and installation design (amongst oodles of other things) and has over 12 years’ experience crafting for global brands. With her crafty skills and creative mind, we asked Kit to create props for our Gorman Playground Winter ‘22 collection.
We had a chat with Kit, about the inspiration behind her creativity, the importance of being environmentally conscious and advice for budding creative entrepreneurs.
Tell us a little about how you launched your career?
I started my design career 12 years ago, when I founded my own clothing and accessories label.
At the time, Etsy had just launched, and I was able to establish myself as a designer there and gained a lot of traction early on because the platform was so new and exciting to people.
While this was happening I was sharing DIY content on my blog, and assisting a fashion stylist. She knew I had a strong skill base in craft, and would commission me to create bespoke, handmade costume pieces and props for her photoshoots. At the time, no one else was really offering this kind of service in the industry, and so I was able to pick up more and more work through her colleagues, fellow stylists and art directors.
This was how I booked my first big name clients, started building my reputation as a craft-based designer, and got the ball rolling for my brand. Now I run a full service craft-based design studio, creating props, installations, DIY content, illustrations and graphics for brands all over the world!
Where does your inspiration come from?
I’m inspired by so many things! I love colour, first and foremost. I am constantly documenting beautiful colour and pattern combos that I find out “in the wild” on my travels.
I’m also very inspired by nostalgia, kitsch, whimsy, retro stuff, and novelty items. Things like tacky souvenirs, vintage craft books and magazines, 70s wallpaper, fake food props, miniatures, etc.
I am a maximalist designer, so anything that celebrates maximalism in all its forms really appeals to me.
How has your creativity developed since starting your own business?
I have grown so much as a designer in the past 12 years - it’s hard to put it into words! I think the main thing I have gained (apart from growing my skill set) is confidence! Confidence in my skills, techniques, style, and also in my ability to sustain a self-made business for over a decade - this has been crucial to my growth.
How important is being environmentally conscious to you?
Considering the environmental impact of my design practice is a crucial part of our business operations here at my design studio.
We are part of an industry known for its production waste, and are committed to reducing this whenever and wherever we can. Some ways we do this are by making strategic decisions in the design and concept phase of a project so that we’re choosing more sustainable materials and processes from the get go. Or, ensuring we work with clients to close the loop on the usage cycle of our materials and finished props/installations/artworks.
We have just launched Loop-de-Loop, a recycling program where we donate studio offcuts, leftover materials, and even finished client pieces to a range of community organisations around Melbourne, helping to close the loop and ensure these things can find a new life where they will be used and loved.
I loved working on the Gorman Playground props because we were able to create them out of sustainable materials that were easy to recycle, while also staying true to my bright and colourful design aesthetic. That’s the definition of a dream job to me!
What are the pros and cons of working for yourself in a creative field?
Running your own creative business can be a rollercoaster, that’s for sure.
Some of the pros are definitely being able to design a life you want to live, and feeling empowered to call the shots and make opportunities happen for your own career development. I love the autonomy that comes from running my own business, it really makes you feel like anything is possible and that in turn helps your creativity to run wild!
There are always challenges though, like anything in life. My greatest challenge is knowing when to stop!
Because I am so passionate about what I do, and I work for myself, it can be really easy to blur the lines between life and work and find yourself losing balance, taking on too much, and heading towards burnout. This is something I am constantly working at!
What exciting projects do you have coming up in 2022?
My studio is going through a period of growth at the moment, which is really exciting. We have a new factory space and have so much more capacity now to work on bigger and more ambitious projects.
We have a few fun things in the pipeline at the moment, but I’m always open to what opportunities might come my way. I would love to do a big public art project, and see what other large-scale prop projects I can get stuck into for the rest of the year.
Lastly, what advice can you offer to budding creative entrepreneurs?
Dream big! Anything is possible with a little ingenuity and hard work. You can create your own unique career path and create opportunities for yourself right now - uni degrees, “big breaks”, guidebooks and all those sorts of things are not necessary to get started. Define what you want to do, and brainstorm some ideas on how you can start working towards your goals.
Start putting your work out into the world in a way that feels authentic to you and get involved with your local creative community. These are some great ways to begin. Also, stop scrolling! Likes and followers don’t guarantee success - your future creative career is waiting for you outside in the real world. It’s good to remember that.