'Wish You Were Here' by Kitiya Palaskas January 24 2017

Kitiya Palaskas is an Australian craft-based designer and artist with a multi-disciplinary practice. She specialises in prop and installation design, styling, art direction, creative workshop facilitation and DIY content production; focusing primarily on using handmade techniques and traditional craft methods reimagined in a contemporary way. Kitiya’s work is characterised by its bold colours, kitsch themes and humorous nature and has spanned the retail, music, advertising and publishing industries. Her clients have included Warner Music, Sportsgirl, Lego, Easy, ANZ Bank, Peter Alexander and Lily Allen, amongst others. As a compliment to her design practice Kitiya produces a playful product range of quirky accessories and homewares, and regularly exhibits experimental work that focusses on using craft as an art form. 

We caught up with Kitiya in the lead up to her show 'Wish You Were Here', at Outre Gallery on February 3rd from 6pm, to ask her about what she is making for it, her influences and how she channels such positive vibes!

Kitiya Palaskas Outre Gallery

Your work is super bright and colourful, what drives you to create these things?
I've always been attracted to colour, pattern, and bold iconography in every day life, so I guess my work is an extension of my personality in that way. When I was a teenager and into my early 20s I went through a huge goth phase, and I like to joke that the aesthetic choices I make as a designer could be a long-term reaction to this in a way, because I spent so long living in monochrome and having all these serious angsty feelings about everything, and so now all I want to do is create playful fun stuff that doesn't take itself too seriously! 

Your studio also exudes fun and positivity energy, could you describe what a typical day is like for you in there?
I'll arrive around 9 or 10, catch up quickly with my studio buddies if they're in yet, and then do a quick tidy and re-set of the space so it's ready for the day. Then I'll give my plants a bit of TLC - I think it's so important to surround yourself with greenery in your living and work spaces. It's so good for my mental health to have beautiful plants to look at all day and I really enjoy indoor gardening so I've built up quite the collection in my studio. Next, I'll run through my emails and make a list of all the things I need to get done that day, then get stuck into work! I break for lunch around 12:30/1 and eat out in the sun, or go for a quick walk to grab something and stretch my legs, then it's back into it for a solid block until around 4:30 when I head to the post office to mail any orders I've received that day from my online shop. I usually do a couple of extra hours work and a bit of prep for the next day after that before heading home. 

Kitiya Palaskas exhibition at Outre Gallery

How do you channel such positive vibes - you must have some kind of super juice you are drinking?
I can be prone to anxiety and depression, and have been for many years, so I feel that it's extra important to maintain a positive outlook on life, and to keep good energy flowing through everything I do. I make sure to surround myself with amazing creative humans (like the other artists in my studio) for motivation and a sense of solidarity and community, read a lot and listen to podcasts to educate and inspire myself, try to make time in my daily routine for wellbeing, rest and exercise, and try not to sweat the small stuff. It's easier said than done and is an ongoing challenge but staying mindful about these things and trying to live more in the moment allows me to stay positive in work and life! 

What's your go to tune when you lack creative motivation?
I love listening to podcasts of all different sorts to give me a boost when I'm feeling flat. Music-wise, it's a mixed bag:  tropical music like cumbria, calypso, or dancehall always peps me up and gives me energy, but sometimes I'll need to listen to some classical or maybe even some chilled reggae if I want to calm my mind. That being said, nothing beats cranking some 90s RnB to make a slow afternoon more fun. It all depends on my mood!

Kitiya Palaskas exhibition at Outre Gallery

As a designer and stylist - you would have lots of projects to juggle at once right?- how do you manage your work load ? 
I'm the first to admit that organisation does not come naturally to me!  I have to try really hard to stay on top of things, because by nature I tend to be a bit scatter-brained and get frazzled easily. I find that using tools like Google Calendar, which links to my computer and phone and has reminders that I can set to go off is so helpful and foolproof! Also, I'm a visual person, so writing lists and having a wall planner that maps out my commitments in 3 month blocks has really helped me too. Getting everything out of my brain and onto paper allows me to focus on each project one step at a time. 

From your instagram, you can see you hustle to have your work seen at Melbourne artist markets, and in awesome exhibitions like the recent ‘Springtime’ at RVCA, and the window displays at Third Draw Down- how important do you think having this community is for you?
I think being part of a creative community is crucial! Engaging with social media (in particular, Instagram) has been totally formative for my business in the past few years, and I have got some amazing opportunities through it as well as made some awesome life-long friends. Offline, I think it's so important to engage with your local creative community whenever you can - going to exhibitions, visiting markets, showing up at events that your peers are running... I believe that the more an individual supports the others in their community, the stronger the community grows, which in turn flows back and benefits each individual.

Kitiya Palaskas exhibition at Outre Gallery

How do you normally find freelance projects, or do they find you? 
I've been really lucky to score some great jobs via word of mouth and recommendations from other creative people (another reason why community is everything!), but also do a fair bit of self promotion through my website and social media accounts. If you put yourself out there as being open to opportunities and trying new things, I find that good things always come your way. 

You will be exhibiting at Outre Gallery, could you speak about the idea behind the work which you will be creating for this exhibition?
Wish You Were Here is a collection of felt-based collages and soft sculptures. The exhibition explores the act of collecting souvenirs and the nostalgia associated with glorifying these collected treasures through curated displays after a vacation ends. I am fascinated by the juxtaposition of constructing every day objects and iconography out of unconventional materials, and so have created this work entirely in felt.

Could you speak about one piece a bit more deeply?

This exhibition will feature some collaged felt pennants, which are my take on the screen-printed souvenir flags you can often find in op shops and vintage stores, displaying the names of various towns and locations. I have always loved collecting these, there's something so visually appealing about them for me - I love how each flag is so different in its iconography and typographic treatment. I wanted to create a little series of these in my own way, creating imaginary holiday locations and associated imagery for each. 

'Wish You Were Here' by Kitiya Palaskas
Opening Night Friday February 3 at 6pm.
OUTRÉ Gallery, 249 - 251 Elizabeth Street, Melbourne.
Facebook event here
Free entry. Beers supplied by Feral Brewing.