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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 17 February 2018
DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 17 FEBRUARY 2018 15 DESIGN a list of agencies knocking on her door attracted to her vibrant aesthetic. "I was offering something that wasn't seen before," she explains. "I got a lot of corporate clients in the first three years of my career because it was a fresh take and they were looking for a point of difference to make them stand out more. I just kept putting myself out there and kept being asked to do things and it sort of grew organically from there." Aside from a goth phase that she admits to in her younger years, it is vibrant colours she has always been drawn to, whether it be plastic toys, brightly coloured walls, or flowers, and that is something the designer says goes back to growing up in Papua New Guinea, "a really beautiful, lush place where colours just pop". Her first love was always collage and is what has helped to define the look of her work. She never felt confident with a pencil in her hand, but quickly discovered that she could cut anything out of paper, welcoming the end result that was a bit raw and imperfect. "My work has that sort of pop feel because of the method that I use to do it, and I've realised that it works for me. The colours themselves and the boldness of it is so much more visually appealing to me than looking at a black and white thing," she says. Aside from her love of crafting, Melbourne-based Palaskas also runs workshops and has naturally gravitated towards working with young people as a mentor. Currently undertaking a social work course, she says it will tie in with her craft work, and is in line with her evolving priorities, with integrity right at the forefront. "I want to be able to go through life doing things that I feel strongly about doing," she says. "It's very important to me that I believe in some way in what I'm doing, otherwise it's just soul-destroying content production." It quickly becomes apparent that Palaskas is a determined soul, and her enthusiasm contagious. But it hasn't come easily, with the road to selfdiscovery at times bumpy. It was just last year that the designer decided to take the leap and go freelance once and for all, without a day job as backup, and she says it has taken a fair share of soul searching and reflection. "I look back and I think 'I made this happen; I did this', just from a career that I created out of nothing. That feeling of empowerment that that gives you is like a drug; it's addictive. Selfworth is a special feeling, and if you can get to a place where you can feel that from something you've done, you know you worked hard and it worked, you're doing it," Palaskas says. "What I keep gravitating towards is creating my own future and there's an excessive drive to prove to myself that I can make my own life. That's what keeps me going. It's like a horrible stubborn thing." I ask her whether she knows where that trait of being 'strong-willed' comes from, as despite not having grown up in a conventional Greek environment, neither speaking the language nor observing the cultural traditions, her passion and commitment to doing things her way, is all too reminiscent of most Greeks I know. "That makes me feel great!" she laughs. "A lot of people have a cultural identity that helps ground them in their formative years, but because I'm multicultural and I've moved around a lot, I don't really have a sense of identity like other people do. So it's hearing things like that, that connects me to my ethnicity. It's really comforting." At just 34 she has already experienced and achieved so much, including a guide to crafting pinatas titled Piñata Party, published by Hardie Grant in 2017. I get the feeling the trajectory is far from ending here. What's next on the agenda for Kitiya Palaskas? "I do get itchy feet because of my childhood. Even now, I've been here almost five-and-a-half years and I'm starting to think, do I want to move again? I'd love to find a way to live in America," she says. "I've got how many years until Trump isn't president anymore? I've got that long to work it out." To see more of Kitiya Palaskas' work, including her book ‘Piñata Party’, visit kitiyapalaskas.com or get social @kitiyapalaskas on Instagram and Facebook. Are you a maker who wants to share your creations with the world? To get tips catch Kitiya Palaskas at the West Elm store in Chadstone Shopping Centre (1341 Dandenong Rd, Chadstone, VIC) on Saturday 24 February from 10.am. To book, call (03) 8537 9020. Spaces are limited.
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