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Inside the colourful mind of craft-based designer Kitiya Palaskas
Welcome to The Creative Files. A new series where we speak to some of the biggest crafters, makers and designers, gaining insights into their creative processes, inspiration and their advice for newcomers. In this first edition, we sat down with Kitiya Palaskas to learn about what inspired her to pursue her career in craft and how she got her foot in the door.
Kitiya Palaskas is a craft-based designer, content creator and author specialising in prop and installation design. She has over 12 years experience crafting for global brands - providing unique and tactile design solutions that help them stand out from the crowd.
Who is Kitiya Palaskas and what is it that you create?
I am a craft-based designer working across the retail, events, advertising and entertainment industries. 12 years ago I founded my business, Kitiya Palaskas Studio, specialising in producing work for commercial clients using primarily handmade techniques. We specialise in prop and installation design, DIY content creation, public art and events, and creative workshop facilitation. I basically get to craft professionally for brands all around the world - total dream job!
Tell us about your career journey to date. Did you always know you wanted to pursue this line of work?
I have always been passionate about craft and celebrating handmade skills and feel like I was born with an entrepreneurial spirit. I love being my own boss and doing things uniquely in my own way, so I think I was destined to forge my own career path from an early age. After graduating from art school in 2006 I started an online clothing and accessories business on Etsy, while working as a stylist's assistant. The stylist knew I was crafty and would commission me to make bespoke handmade props, sets, and costume pieces for her shoots - which was a service that wasn't really being provided in the industry at the time. She would recommend me to her other stylist and creative director friends, and eventually I was getting requests to produce work for bigger and bigger clients, and my niche business was formed!
How did you cultivate your distinct style?
My style is a reflection of my personality and personal aesthetic. I am a die-hard lover of colour, I enjoy mixing patterns, I'm a maximalist, and I'm generally an optimist too, so I feel that these traits are transferred into my design style, which is very playful, joyful and colourful. I've spent years crafting for fun - experimenting with different techniques and materials, and applying my unique style to them, so that I now have a full range of skills across the craft spectrum, but they all still feel distinctly me.
Talk us through your creative process. Where do you start?
My creative process always starts with inspiration! I am an avid collector of objects and imagery, and I'm always writing ideas down when they come to me out of the blue. So when I get a new project, I refer back to my collections and notes to help inspire the look and feel of the project. As many of my creative projects are large-scale and involve a lot of making by hand, I like to have the entire process planned out before I begin work. This could involve making digital or physical mock-ups and testing out materials and techniques, brainstorming with clients, preparing and sourcing materials, and generally preparing everything so that I'm ready to hit the ground running and start making. For larger projects, I work in a kind of assembly line method, working methodically in phases and then piecing everything together at the end. It's something I've learned to do in order to help me manage my workflow.
What does a typical working day look like for you?
Every day is different, and that's what I love so much about running my own business! I always try and start slow, with a coffee and some journaling, setting my intentions for the day. Next, I'll head to my warehouse studio and check emails and my to-do list. Then, the day could be filled with any combination of the following: filming or editing DIYs for clients, batch creating content for my social media, working on a physical prop, set piece or installation, hanging out on my computer doing research and development for a project, spending time on brand planning and strategy, taking meetings, or spending the day on set for a photoshoot or on-site installing for an event. I try to block out at least half a day a week purely for inspiration hunting - whether that be visiting an art exhibition or going on a creative excursion somewhere. I try to leave work at the same time every day, so I can enjoy some downtime at home before it all starts again!
What has been your favourite project to work on so far?
I have been fortunate enough to work with so many incredible clients and creatives from around the world, and it's really hard to pick just one! I enjoy projects that are a true collaboration between me and the client, or that challenge me or push me out of my comfort zone. Writing and art directing my DIY craft book Piñata Party was a definite career highlight. I also produced and starred in my own craft show for Warner Music, where I interviewed bands and did craft with them - that was a fun challenge! Lately I've worked on a few packaging design projects that have been incredibly rewarding, collaborative, and enjoyable... like I said - it's so hard to choose!
Who are your biggest artistic inspirations and why?
I am inspired first and foremost by colour! It inspires everything I do! I'm also incredibly inspired by the concept of celebrating the mundane - and glorifying everyday objects to turn them into art. Martin Parr is a photographer that I love who does that really well. I'm fascinated by folk art, and researching its history and techniques, and in travelling to different countries to see how each culture celebrates craft. Mexico made a huge impact on me when I travelled there. I love anything tacky and kitsch too - from gaudy retro-style cakes, to tacky holiday souvenirs and novelty items - all of these things really inspire me!
Do you have a single piece of advice you'd give to your younger self or someone looking to pursue a similar line of work?
You are capable of anything you put your mind to. Walk your own path and don't let external things like societal pressures, social media, or other people's expectations cloud your dream vision of your future. Don't wait for your career to come to you, just get started! Put your work out into the world, make friends with other designers, and get involved in your local design community. Opportunities will find you if you put yourself out there. Finally, and above all - be you, not them!
If you're inspired to get creative, be sure to check out Make It March at Spotlight for a huge range of fun creative projects to try yourself and all the art and craft supplies you'll need.
Find Kitiya here: