Kit (or Kitiya) Palaskas is a professional crafter. I say this because aside from making her own cheerful crafty creations for styling, selling, workshopping and exhibiting, Kit also works in the craft department at Family Circle Magazine (previously she also worked in a similar role at Better Homes and Gardens magazine). Can you BELIEVE this kind of dream job actually exists? Kit also moonlights as a creative workshop tutor, and Etsy Sydney team captain! See? Professional. And dedicated.
We're gonna go out on a limb here and say Kit is basically a younger, cooler, Sydney version of craft mogul Martha Stewart. Just check out her super cute blog if you don't believe me. I would not be surprised if she ends up on TV actually. She's got that winning combination of cute + likeable meets crafty + clever. She'd make a great improvement to The Block at any rate.
Ms Palaskas has recently been taking some sweet mobile making classes for kids at The School in Sydney, and she has another one coming up this Sunday May 20th! Kit says 'Kids who attend my class can expect to be assaulted with a kaleidoscope of coloured card and lashings of metallic paper'! SIGN ME UP! (Doh, class is for under 12's only, pfft they get all the fun). All details over here for those keen to check it out!
We figured since she is surely destined for crafty / DIY TV show stardom (or at least a book deal!?) we should ask Kit a few questions before she gets too famous. Here goes! -
Tell us a little bit about your background - What did you study and what path led you to what you're doing now?
I had a very creative upbringing. I started making things from an early age and still have one of my first ever creations – a sparkly styrofoam Christmas ornament covered in a ridiculous amount of sequins. It goes on the tree every year! I was always making little paper things too, such as detective kits and elaborate pop-up books. My brother and I had a 'shop' and we would coerce my parents into purchasing our handmade wares for exorbitant prices like 5 cents (an absolute fortune for pick-n-mix!).
I lived in a lot of different countries growing up, including the United Arab Emirates during high school. You couldn't buy any good clothes over there at the time so I just started making my own, but I couldn't sew, so I just hot-glued and stapled myself into everything. Eventually I picked up some sewing skills and it just went from there. I went to Canberra School of Art and studied Printmaking and Drawing, incorporating textiles and sculpture into a lot of my work. After uni I moved to Sydney and had my own little fashion label and eventually turned to more craft-related design.
You work in the craft department of Family Circle magazine, 'moonlight' as a creative workshop tutor and are an Etsy team captain. Basically you're a younger, cooler, Sydney version of craft mogul Martha Stewart? How did you get your start and create your craft enterprise, and do you think it's important to have a niche/point of difference in this industry in order to succeed? Um, that is a HUGE compliment, thank you! In the early days I used to assist this amazing stylist Georgia Ashdown, and one day she commissioned me to make some bespoke handmade trinkets for a magazine shoot. That was my first professional job as a craft-based designer. I worked at it from there and forged a career path for myself. The workshops I teach stemmed from craft clubs I used to host for my friends. I love teaching and the concept of sharing and passing on creative knowledge from person to person.
In terms of this industry, I feel like it is so important to place high value in your own work. Even if you can't see a place for it in the industry, just keep working hard and making things you love and you'll carve your own niche. You don't necessarily need to have a point of difference to succeed, I think it's more important to be confident in what you make and to be true to your own style.
What does a typical day at work involve for you? I wake up, always a bit zombie-like, and head into the office where I work on magazine stuff at Family Circle all day. I ride my bike home, usually carrying a ridiculous amount of craft supplies in various bags on my back which must look really silly! I then work solidly for the next six or seven hours on a variety of my own projects including freelance jobs, work for the Sydney Etsy Team (of which I am Captain), blogging, personal craft projects, and preparing for upcoming workshops.
Highlights lately have included my work for Megan Morton's The School, a special project for Lego, and being part of the team that is planning the Etsy Success Sydney event as part of Vivid Sydney 2012. I usually collapse into bed around 3 or 4am sometimes, only to wake up early the next day to shoot the things I made the night before in my little home photo studio setup. Yes, I am a complete workaholic, but I relish every second of it and it never feels like work when you're doing what you love.
Which Australian designers, artists or creative people are you loving right now? I can't get enough of the girls from Peaches + Keen. I read their blog constantly. They make such great things and their lives look so fun! I just hosted a craft workshop at Fabric-a-brac, run by the very talented Kaila Perusco. It's a market just for pre-loved fabric and notions aka, the place where dreams are made. There is this creative catering duo in Melbourne called Babes on Grill. They have these awesome block parties and BBQs, and cook up scrumptious treats while wearing cute outfits and flawless nail polish. Also out of Melbourne is Bernadette Alice Francis. I am in awe of her work! She makes the most gorgeous and exciting wearable art and we seem to share a love of gemstones and metallics, which is fantastic.
You're running a mobile making workshop at our pal Megan Morton's The School this coming Sunday. How did this professional partnership with MM develop and what can attendees of your class expect?
Megan! What an incredibly amazing individual. Our meeting was rather fateful and chance-like, as all great meetings are. She invited me to teach a class on mobile-making at The School and we have since made many exciting plans for future collaborations. Kids who attend my class can expect to be assaulted with a kaleidoscope of coloured card and lashings of metallic paper. We'll talk about the origins of mobiles, how they are made and how the simple placement of shapes and colours together can form the most stunning, vivid and kinetic creations. Most importantly we'll learn the importance of embracing your own personal style and how that in itself can create something truly unique and wonderful. It will be a jolly good time!To keep in touch with all Kit's crafty projects do check out her website and blog!