Kit Palaskas is one sweet ‘n crafty lady – and she has her fingers in all of the sugar-coated pies! From Sportsgirl and piñatas to pom-poms and one cute bike – she is incredibly talented and let’s us take a peek into her colourful and confetti-filled world.
Describe a typical Kit Palaskas day.
I am not so great at being a morning person, so I am usually quite beastly at first, until I’ve had a coffee. After that, and an attempt to tame my unruly hair so that it fits inside a bike helmet I will usually ride to my studio and get started on the day. If I’m not busy I like to do a quick tidy and reset of my space before I start a new project, but if I’m on a deadline I’ll probably just clamber over the ‘craftermath’ from the day before, find my desk and get stuck into it. My days vary a lot depending on the work I’m doing, and could include anything from constructing pinatas, prepping kits for workshops, shooting a new DIY tutorial, Skyping with clients while secretly wearing no pants (the best thing about freelancing…come on don’t pretend you’ve never done it!), or working on personal projects, like my craft book. I’ll work solidly until about 6 or 7 and then head home where I will most likely round up the day by catching up on emails whilst watching Law & Order.
When did you realise you were a creative soul and what was the beginning of the journey?
My brother and I spent most our childhood being creative and making things so I think it was pretty much ingrained in me from the get go! We had our own shop that we constructed out of a refrigerator box and we used to make products like little magazines and paintings to sell to our parents. We also had this band called Dramatic Beats where we would compose these elaborate beats made on pots and pans and also sample sounds from nature and record it all onto tapes. We had a loyal fan base of 2 (my parents) and I still have the original cassettes! I could never imagine myself doing anything other than making stuff with my hands, so I pursued that all through high school, then went to art school and studied photography and printmaking and had my own little fashion label for a while after that. It took a while to decide where my focus was going to be, but I think that experimental stage was really important for me. I still feel like diversity is crucial in my job, and I am constantly trying new things and experimenting all the time. I don’t think you necessarily need to be locked down to one specific “genre” of creativity, but it does help to have a main focus, even just at first so that you can start shaping a career and making a name for yourself.
Tell us about your path, along the way – jobs, lessons learnt, and how you got to be the ultimate craft queen you are today!
Aw thanks! Well, my professional journey started when I first moved to Sydney after art school. I was assisting a fashion stylist and she would get me to make bespoke hand-crafted creations for her shoots and eventually encouraged me to pursue that kind of thing as a career path. It seemed so bizarre to me that I could make a living from craft, something that I truly loved. The concept seemed too good to be true! She hooked me up with some of my first major clients and I spent the next few years just trying to build up my portfolio and produce craft-based design work in as many different kinds of ways as I could. I made costumes for music videos, created paper craft type treatments for marketing campaigns, built props for editorials, dressed sets and venues with handmade decorations… anything/everything! At that time I feel like including handmade elements in advertising, editorial projects and visual merchandising wasn’t as common as it is today, so it was hard at first. I had to constantly put myself out there so that people were aware of what I was doing and try to inspire them about the many different ways that craft-based design could be applied to commercial projects. Having a blog, being really active on social media, and networking with my local creative community was so helpful for this. Around the same time while on holiday I got an opportunity to host a craft night at the Etsy Labs in NYC where I realised that I REALLY love mentoring and skill sharing, so that kicked off the teaching, and eventually writing side of my career. I linked up with places like galleries, museums and shops to teach in-house craft workshops, and started writing DIY project articles for blogs and magazines. Again, networking was key for this! I think the number one lesson that I have learned so far is the value of hard work! It’s just me here doing this and at the end of the day I’m the only one who can truly motivate myself and push myself hard to achieve my goals and get where I want to go. I can be SUCH a ball-breaker to myself, but working hard feels so good, because when you achieve something you can look back and think “I did that all by myself” and feel really proud.
Which blogs are a must read for you?
A lot of my inspiration comes from things in the outside world – like kitchy trinkets, elaborately decorated desserts and vintage craft books for example – as opposed to blogs. But in terms of my general favourites, I like these guys: The Design Sponge “Biz Ladies” column, Dish Pig, Obnoxious Owl, Awesome Tapes From Africa, the New York Times culture sections, and of course, Beyonce Gifs.
What were some of your highlights for 2013?
* Working for Sportsgirl on their Summer 2013 Visual Merchandising campaign and teaching pinata-making workshops in their Sydney and Melbourne stores – they’re an amazing client and it was a super fun job to work on.
* Moving to Melbourne and discovering just how incredible the creative community is here and being able to hang out and work with some of my design idols on a regular basis.
* Being part of some very special fundraising projects for The Girls and Boys Brigade. This is an amazing Sydney-based community organisation that I love and am so proud to work with. Last year we put on a couple of huge events that involved so many people from Sydney’s creative community. It was wonderful.
* Exhibiting at Craft Victoria – which is like the Mecca of the craft world to me.
* Having a handmade confetti cannon explode at point blank range into my eye. It was my most exciting and impressive craft-based injury yet.
What advice would you give students starting out?
* Try and get out there and meet people in your creative community. Go to exhibition openings, artist talks, open studio days, markets, and other similar things. I know this can sometimes be a bit daunting, especially to those prone to a bit of shyness (like me on occasion), but don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and talk to people at these events. By doing it you are helping to support and foster a strong local creative community, and you never know what opportunities might come out of those sorts of interactions.
* Also, rather than waiting for your dream job to come along, have a go at reaching out to your creative idols or dream clients. You have nothing to lose by putting yourself out there and introducing yourself and your work. Whether or not anything comes out of it, at least you’ll be putting yourself on their radar.
* Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Some of the most important things I have learned have come out of making a mistake. No matter how cringe-worthy they are, mistakes help you grow and define yourself as a creative person. The only time you should ever regret a mistake is if you didn’t learn anything from it afterwards!
* Being professional, respectful, humble and grateful in your career is so crucial. You’ll find that people will treat you the same in return and that is a pretty great vibe!
* Love what you do and have fun! Because if you’re not then why are you doing it?!
What are your personal and professional goals for 2014?
This year I am aiming to complete and publish my first craft book, and travel Australia teaching craft and collaborating with local communities everywhere (plans are afoot already!) I’d also love to launch my Craft Bike in Melbourne, and produce more work for music videos, as that’s one of my most favourite things to do. Oh, and discovering a cure for procrastination would be pretty good too.
(feel free to write to me if you wanna chat about my work, your work, favourite Beyonce song, or just to say hi!)