Real Talk

Real Talk

GOAL SETTING & REMEMBERING YOUR PURPOSE

 
Real Talk artwork by Kitiya Palaskas.jpg

Hi everyone,

Happy 2019! I know it’s technically mid-Jan, but I figured most of us were busy holidaying and enjoying some down time and might only be getting into the swing of things now. I hope you’re all rested and excited about the year ahead, I know I definitely am. Having said that, I always freak out a little bit at the start of a new year because I have this bad habit of putting a lot of pressure on myself to achieve great things each year, and so feel a bit of panic and anxiety worrying about whether this will or won’t happen. So I did have a little freak out, I have to say, but I’ve moved on from that now and am looking forward to what 2019 has in store for us all.

Remembering your creative purpose

I’ve written about this heaps of times before, but over the last few years I’ve struggled A LOT with creative block and burnout. Just when I would think I was getting over it, it would strike back and I would find myself treading water yet again. This was particularly rife last year, I could feel the build up of the past few years really starting to wear me down. Going into this new year I wanted to find my spark again, and get to the bottom of why I still kinda felt that block.

I listened to a really great episode of one of my favourite podcasts, Andy J Miller’s Creative Pep Talk. It was about defeating burnout, and there was a part where Andy lists some strategies for moving past it. One of them is to remember WHY you are creative in the first place - your ultimate creative purpose. According to Andy, your purpose is the spark that fuels your creativity. Listening to this, I realised (in a dramatic heart stopping moment) that I couldn’t define what mine was anymore! I’d lost sight of it! All of a sudden it made so much sense as to why I’d struggled so much with creative block and burnout, because I wasn’t really working towards a greater purpose. Yes I’ve made things I’ve enjoyed and been proud of over the last few years, but in general I still felt a bit aimless about what I was doing it for. Like I said before, I felt like I was treading water.

Real Talk artwork by Kitiya Palaskas.jpg

So I tried really hard to define my creative purpose, but I didn’t truly believe in the answers I was coming up with. I wrote so many things down, but nothing felt genuine. Then I had a little bit of a panic spiral (gotta love a spiral!). If I no longer had a purpose for being creative, was there actually a point?! Cue mega emo phone call with my boyfriend about what the fuck I’m doing with my life and how everything is horrible and I’m just going to throw in the towel and get a job in data entry from now. Lol sorry babe.

After talking it through I started to think about what my original creative purpose was before my career really took off, before I started getting clients and found myself running a full on business. My purpose back then was to celebrate everything handmade, to keep handmade techniques alive, and to show through my work, and by positioning myself as a commercial designer, that craft has a valid place in the contemporary design world.  When I thought about it, I realised this is still my purpose at heart. Even though I feel like I’ve achieved my purpose, it’s still what drives me at the end of the day. I’d just lost sight of it in the whirlwind of running a business, hustling, networking, the social media success trap, and all of that other noise.

I guess I’m telling you all of this because if you’ve started your year feeling a bit lost, blocked, or without direction, don’t panic. I suggest reminding yourself of what your true creative purpose is. Think really hard about it, have a few panic spirals and emo phone chats if you need to, until you remember. It will help direct you to a starting point for the year, and you can use it as a roadmap to get you on your way.

Real Talk artwork by Kitiya Palaskas.jpg

Setting Goals

I’ve have always been an advocate of setting some goals at the start of a year. I personally need them to give me direction and help keep me on track as the year begins, especially because the first part of the year always goes SO fast, and all of a sudden you’ve blinked and it’s June and you haven’t even got started yet! Your goals don’t have to be set in stone though. I think it’s great to be open to new opportunities coming your way, experiencing things that change your goals, and simply just making it up as you go along. But I do find it useful to have at least a vague road map to work from. If you’re keen on some goal setting to get you pumped up for 2019, here’s some tips you might find useful:

5 TIPS FOR SETTING CREATIVE GOALS

1. Start with a review of last year. What did you love and what were you most proud of?  What didn’t work so well for you that you could ditch or change/improve on in the new year? What new skills do you want to learn this year to build on what you learned last year? For me, one thing I was proud of was starting the Real Talk project, and I loved getting some fresh inspiration from my trip to Mexico, which made me want to prioritise travel more in 2019. On the down side, I realised that client management gave me the most stress out of anything last year, and that I had become quite a reactive maker - only creating when I had a client job, and not for fun or experimentation. So, improving in these areas is going on my goals list for sure.

2. Split your goals into areas that are relevant to you, so you can focus on each area separately and not get overwhelmed by how many goals are stacking up on your list. Mine ended up falling into the following categories: career, personal creative growth, and bucket list goals.

3. Can you list a few actionable steps towards achieving each of your goals? What actions can you start to take that will help you work towards them? For example, I’d like to make more time for creative experimentation and fun making, so to work towards this I’m going to try setting aside specific periods in the week for time consuming but important things like client meetings, business admin, emails, studio maintenance etc so that the rest of my time is free to simply just make stuff.

4. Remember that you can’t achieve it all right now this instant. But you can choose a couple of things to get started on right away to keep you motivated and get the ball rolling. I always choose something as my January project to focus on, so I can at least start. This year it’s to revamp the Real Talk project and start to design a line of mini pinatas that I’d eventually like to sell.

 5. Remember that goals can change, as can your circumstances. While I think it’s really useful and inspiring to set goals, try not to feel like you’re locked into them. Keep some flexibility about you and treat these goals more as a guide, not something set in stone. The last thing you want is to start the year feeling any pressure, you might lose motivation and stop before you’ve even begun.

I wish you all an amazing start to 2019! Now, let’s get started!

All images: Kitiya Palaskas


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Real Talk is an online wellbeing project for creative people, curated and edited by me with contributions by Katie Holcombe. Through a monthly newsletter we share original articles (like this one) and exclusive curated content that we feel will compliment the topics we’re discussing. Things like TED talks, podcast episodes, videos, wellbeing exercises, worksheets and many more inspiring resources. Sign up to our newsletter to get your monthly dose of Real Talk and be empowered to improve your wellbeing so that you can lead your best creative life!

 

Real Talk

REAL TALK IN 2019

 

This is an article from the original Real Talk blog, which is now archived here on the KP website!
Happy reading!

Real Talk illustration by Kitiya Palaskas.jpg

Hey gang,

A little Real Talk update for you with some news about where we are headed in 2019. So, in reflecting on the year just past, I’ve been thinking about a bunch of things I loved, but also found challenging about running the Real Talk project. The good things: I still feel so passionate about wanting to share stories and resources about creative wellbeing and to facilitate a dialogue about them. I have also thoroughly enjoyed writing a blog again. Blogging was one of my first ever creative outlets and I didn’t realise how much I enjoyed and missed doing it, as well as curating awesome related resources to inspire and empower people with.

But there have been some negatives. I have struggled with maintaining a separate blog and instagram account alongside my existing platforms that I have for my business. I found that I just haven’t had enough time to devote to all of them and I kind of feel like I am losing that initial sense of community that surrounded Real Talk simply because I can’t keep up with the social media updates. One of the reasons why I started Real Talk was because I loved the dialogue that was happening every time I posted something about creative wellbeing on my social media. I feel like this has been lost a bit now, as I don’t have the mental capacity to facilitate this on BOTH social media accounts. I also didn’t get a chance to send out any Real Talk newsletters last year, which is something I really wanted to do because I truly believe in it as a communications medium.


Where does that leave Real Talk going into 2019?

Well, I need to make it easier and more streamlined for me to share Real Talk stuff with you, while also fitting in work, life, and the running of my business. I am dedicated to this project, so I need to find a way to balance it all, as canning it is not an option for me. So, with that being said, we are going to trial something new.

The Real Talk project will now become an e-newsletter, delivered straight to your inbox and filled to the brim with original content, videos, podcast recommendations, wellbeing exercises, and other empowering resources that we have lovingly curated and written just for you. The original articles we write will also be posted over on my Kitiya Palaskas blog but to make them super easy for you to find and access they’ll feed through to their own special page on my site, which you can find at kitiyapalaskas.com/realtalk. But if you’re still keen to access the additional resources we used to curate and share (including Katie’s amazing wellness exercises), you’ll need to sign up to the newsletter.

To keep things super streamlined we’ll also be phasing out the Real Talk Instagram account. Anything to do with Real Talk will now be posted on my @kitiyapalaskas account and can be found under the hashtag #realtalkbykit and my Real Talk Highlight.


So what do you need to do to keep accessing Real Talk?

Firstly, please subscribe to the brand new Real Talk newsletter (see below to sign up)! This won’t be the spammy, incessant type of newsletter that makes you want to unsubscribe before you’ve even opened it up, we promise. We respect your time and your attention span, so you can rest assured that we will be valuing quality over quantity here. If you previously signed up to our old newsletter, you won’t need to sign up again, we got you!

Secondly, hop over and follow me on Instagram (@kitiyapalaskas) if you haven’t already as this is where I’ll be posting any Real Talk updates from now on.

Lastly, click over to Real Talk’s new home, kitiyapalaskas.com/realtalk and check out some of our older articles, you might find something that inspires you to start your year with a bang.

We do hope you enjoy our new format, I know I’ll definitely enjoy it more and it will hopefully make things easier for me so I can continue to serve up Real Talk goodness to help you improve your creative wellbeing!

As always, thank you for reading! xxx


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Get some Real Talk in your inbox!

Real Talk is an online wellbeing project for creative people, written and curated by me! Through a monthly newsletter we share original articles (like this one) and exclusive curated content that we feel will compliment the topics we’re discussing in our articles. Things like TED talks, podcast episodes, videos, wellbeing exercises, worksheets and many more inspiring resources. Sign up to our newsletter to get your monthly dose of Real Talk and be empowered to improve your wellbeing so that you can lead your best creative life!

 

Real Talk

THE IMPORTANCE OF TAKING A BREAK

 
Mexico by Kitiya Palaskas.JPG

I recently returned from a 5 week vacation travelling all over Mexico. (For anyone wondering, it was absolutely incredible and I highly recommend it as a holiday destination!) As I’ve settled back into normal life I’ve been thinking a lot about what this time off meant to me, and in particular, my creative practice. Turns out, taking breaks is absolutely crucial to my creative longevity.

Prior to this I hadn’t been on a long, proper vacation since 2010 (the year before I started my business) with the exception of 2 mini trips to Bali, which for Australians isn’t really THAT far to travel, and in my eyes, didn’t really have the same impact as taking a lengthy amount of time off. Over the years I’ve watched friends go on epic holidays, some taking months, even years off to travel. I always thought these kinds of adventures seemed unattainable for someone in my situation – there always seemed to be some reason for why I couldn’t do it too, mostly relating to my creative business.

Mexico by Kitiya Palaskas.JPG
Mexico by Kitiya Palaskas.JPG

“I even felt like I didn’t deserve a holiday, there was just too much to be done and I had to keep pushing or else I’d get left behind”

Mexico by Kitiya palaskasJPG
Pinata Mexico by Kitiya Palaskas.jpg

A big reoccurring reason was guilt. I felt that I wasn’t a legit business owner if I wasn’t constantly thinking about work, constantly hustling, constantly pushing, or being constantly available for my clients at all hours of the day even if I was technically off the clock. I even felt like I didn’t deserve a holiday, there was just too much to be done and I had to keep pushing or else I’d get left behind. Laying the pressure on thick don’t you think!?

I also felt a huge amount of FOMO. I felt that taking time off meant I wouldn’t be available for jobs or opportunities that might be around the corner. Because freelance life is unpredictable, you feel like you should always be open for business so you don’t miss out. I was stuck in my routine too. I had been on the grind for so long, working in the same way, in the same place, with the same habits.  It seemed impossible to consider stepping out of this bubble and disrupting my routine for an extended period of time.

Torta stand by Kitiya Palaskas.jpg
Cotton Candy Stand Mexico City by Kitiya Palaskas.jpg

But eventually everyone reaches a breaking point. After 8 years I was so burnt out that I literally couldn’t work properly anymore. Travelling is one of my favourite things to do, and I’d restricted myself from it for way too long for the sake of my business. However, this hadn’t seemed to benefit my business or my creativity, in fact, being so relentless had been detrimental to me (cue creative burnout!). I desperately needed some time off, so I forced myself to finally make this a priority, despite my apprehensions. And I’m so glad I did.

As the dust settles after my holiday I have started to notice the ways that I have benefited from taking a break. One of them is the sense of freedom that comes from of breaking out of my bubble. It’s never a bad thing to shake things up and get away from your regular routine for a while. A change is good, even if it’s uncomfortable. As humans we can easily get stuck in our daily routines. At times I need a routine to help me feel more in control of my life, but not having one for 5 weeks was actually so refreshing. It’s made me appreciate and enjoy the day-to-day things again, as well as being inspired by the routines of the people I interacted with in Mexico. Before, I felt a bit like a rat on a wheel, stuck in the daily grind, but now I realise that if I start to feel that way again, I can just step off and shake things up once more. Or create an entirely new routine that suits me better.

Isla Holbox by Kitiyia Palaskas.jpg
Isla Holbox by Kitiya Palaskas.jpg
Bacalar Mexico by Kitiya Palaskas.jpg

Pushing myself out of my comfort zone and into a new unfamiliar place forced me to start thinking and seeing in different ways. As I soaked up new, unfamiliar sights, smells, flavours and experiences, I was deeply inspired. Now, new ideas are flowing in and I can’t wait to see how this influences my creativity.  An interesting observation related to this was that prior to leaving I told myself I was going to maintain my creative output the entire time I was away. I didn’t want to fall behind. I packed heaps of supplies and a scrapbook, intending to make something every day. But almost as soon as I arrived I realised that making stuff was the absolute last thing I wanted to do. I just didn’t want to do anything related to my design practice AT ALL, in fact, I felt the need to get as far away from it as possible for a while.

“As I soaked up new, unfamiliar sights, smells, flavours and experiences, I was deeply inspired. Now, new ideas are flowing in and I can’t wait to see how this influences my creativity.”

I feel so rejuvenated now too. Seems like an obvious benefit, but I didn’t realise how much I desperately needed a physical and mental break from my business and the freelance hustle until I was miles away from it all. I didn’t notice how much it had ground me down over the past 8 years. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve loved my journey so far, but there’s no denying it’s been a long time between proper breaks! Ya girl was exhausted!  The simple act of taking a break from it all has allowed me to recharge my batteries in the most amazing way. Sometimes when you’re smack bang in the middle of your bubble, it’s hard to clock that you need to get away. Related to this is how the simple act of getting some distance allowed me to shed the feelings of guilt that were tying me to my business. The guilt was quite ingrained, and it took almost 2 weeks for me to fully shed these feelings and begin to truly enjoy my holiday, but once I did, I felt amazing!

Mexico by Kitiya Palaskas.jpg
Mexico by Kitiya Palaskas.jpg

So, what have I learned from taking a break? Well, firstly, I should have done this YEARS ago, probably when I first started experiencing creative burnout, not years after. Instead, I waded deeper into the mud until I was stuck there because I feared that taking a break would make me fall even further behind. Instead, not taking one prolonged my burnout further.

Secondly, being a martyr to your creativity is not cool. It will not make you a better artist, it will just make you tired. People aren’t going to notice you more and give you more jobs just because you refuse to take a break and you work 24/7. You will only damage yourself, and your creative output will suffer for it. There shouldn’t be a stigma surrounding taking time off, it should be encouraged and supported, not looked upon as a sign that you aren’t doing enough.

Finally, my trip was incredible, but I may not always be in a position to go on vacation in order to take a break. I have realised that the act of taking a break doesn’t necessarily have to be in the same form every time. It could be anything - a weekend away, an afternoon off, an enforcement of designated working hours, lunch away from your desk, setting your out-of-office each night (and sticking to it), even something as intangible as a mindset shift.  The crucial thing is that you allow yourself to truly step away for a while, to mentally and physically break. Your creativity will thank you for it. 

Chichen Itza by Kitiya Palaskas.jpg

 
 
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Get some Real Talk in your inbox!

Real Talk is an online wellbeing project for creative people, written and curated by me! Through a monthly newsletter we share original articles (like this one) and exclusive curated content that we feel will compliment the topics we’re discussing in our articles. Things like TED talks, podcast episodes, videos, wellbeing exercises, worksheets and many more inspiring resources. Sign up to our newsletter to get your monthly dose of Real Talk and be empowered to improve your wellbeing so that you can lead your best creative life!

 

Real Talk

WELLNESS: A LITTLE YOGA SEQUENCE FOR SOME TIME OUT

 

Take five from your day for a stretch with this little yoga sequence I put together. Love, Katie


Get some Real Talk in your inbox!

Real Talk is an online wellbeing project for creative people, written and curated by me! Through a monthly newsletter we share original articles (like this one) and exclusive curated content that we feel will compliment the topics we’re discussing in our articles. Things like TED talks, podcast episodes, videos, wellbeing exercises, worksheets and many more inspiring resources. Sign up to our newsletter to get your monthly dose of Real Talk and be empowered to improve your wellbeing so that you can lead your best creative life!

 

Real Talk

CREATIVITY, MENTAL HEALTH AND MAKING IT IN A NEW CITY: JESS COCHRANE TELLS IT LIKE IT IS

 
Image:    Jess Cochrane

Sipping coffees from her local cafe on a rooftop in a suburb of London’s South East, I caught up with Jess Cochrane, the Australian boundary-pushing artist known for her arresting artworks that blur the lines between what society deems ‘beautiful’ and reality. Her work is an exploration of pop culture, the idea of feminine beauty and how different parts of ourselves are so often disguised by this idea.

Using a mixture of paint and photographic imagery, Jess creates incredibly moving and interesting works that will have you questioning your beliefs long after you’ve left them.

RT: You’ve been away from home for four months now, living in London, how has it been?

JC: Man, this trip has been so eye opening. I’m the kind of person that is so up for jumping in the deep end with my life, and I do that a lot but there’s always a whiplash effect. And the bigger the distance, the deeper the pool (and the bigger that whiplash). I’ve had moments wondering what the hell is happening because it’s such a big thing, but the best part about it is that I’ve had so much reflection time. My ability to deal with my mental health, over the years has become so much better as I’m more self-aware and I’ve actually had some interesting break throughs.

RT: Can you share any?

JC: Well, so often creatives want to be constantly doing (I’m no different), but if there is no solid plan in place, we’ll tell ourselves that we’re not doing enough and we’ll begin to unhealthily compare ourselves to others. I suffer from perfectionism and am so prone to comparison. At the moment that’s with two creatives who are older than me and British, who’ve grown up in London and have built up huge networks and successful careers. So at the start of my trip I tried to match pace by going to see as much art as possible, meet as many people as possible and attend all the right events. This quickly led to burnout and frustration. When I finally got my studio and settled into a routine, I realised that it’s all the same recipe, same method: I know what I need to do but it’s so much slower here for me than in Australia. At home I’m recognised, people know me, which is so cool that there’s recognition. But here I’m a tiny tadpole in the world’s biggest pond. The needing to approach people and getting to know them is more difficult. So I’m trying not to compare myself to people literally born and raised in London and I’ve realised it’s ok to go at a slower pace, it’s still happening. There’s a pressure you end up putting on yourself that’s unhealthy, and I need to constantly remind myself, just to chill.

RT: How else is it different from home?

JC: Being in a big city like London, you realise how small Sydney is (and Australia for that matter). Sydney is not a big city! Coming here puts things into perspective. Realising just how huge a market it is to crack is very humbling and makes you realise how hard everyone works. It’s a tougher and slower process to start somewhere new but that’s ok. It’s really easy to get dejected and think I’m nothing in this city, but you get to a point where you realise the new city has so much to offer, and you start to block out the unnecessary stuff so you focus on the things you want to get out of it.

As a creative that always wants to be doing the most, and constantly needing validation, it’s funny how all those things play on your mind when you’re in a bigger, new city. I think it’s important to reflect on things like this though, so in hindsight, I’ll be able to look back and wonder what did I spend so much time thinking about, what mattered, what didn’t, what came out of it. One things’ for sure I’ll never complain about Sydney traffic again!

RT: How do you feel about social media - how have you utilised it in the past and now in London?

JC: This trip, I’ve loved it and hated it. The main thing that I use it for is as a business tool. I don’t really use it to compare myself to others, more to look at art, what’s going on, scout photography subjects and I tend to see it more as a Pinterest-type gallery so in a lot of ways I have so much love and support for it because it’s helped my career so much and given me so much access to new things. And it’s so easy. But at the same time, in a lot of ways, in the way someone would use it for personal reasons, it’s affected me more. I love photos – taking them and posting them to create a memory board and I think I’ve spent a lot more hours on it personally than for my business because this trip I’ve taken a step back to reassess what I’m doing with my work.

 RT: What are some of the challenges of making a move like this one?

JC: One of the biggest things about being away and being in a new place, like starting a new school you have to make new friends, find your place. It took me about three years to really get that in Sydney and now I’m here at the beginning again which is going to take time. Another thing that’s been interesting is the discovery of London through social media. It’s been easy to feel like I’m not fitting in and trying to learn about it. It’s given me a lot of things to think about – differences between English and Australian culture and different city culture. It’s been a bit of a mind fuck – all the different ways people dress, the music. I’ve felt so out of my depth and not cool enough which is so silly but it’s a lot of life stuff happening as well.

 RT: Also when you’re home you pick up the phone, call a friend or your mum and get through it, but here, it’s much harder.

JC: Yeah exactly. For me, the thing I’ve experienced is a combo of starting my career here coming in from the side and also starting my life here. Trying to figure out the ins and outs of working relationships and where I want to be, what I want to be doing, and my place in it all. I definitely had a point, last month where I was so over it, I was so tired and had so much to process. When you’re putting your trust in a feeling of “I want to be in London, and this is what I want to pursue…” it’s quite scary.

RT: What’s your internal chatter or mental state around this?

JC: A constant push pull scenario that can be really draining! It’s an internal battle and in a few years I know I’ll be so much stronger for it. It’s hard but then I always think of the alternative: I don’t want to sit on a couch at home and be dissatisfied and wonder what might have been. Unless it’s fully happening to you, it’s difficult to understand, the stuff that runs through your head. And people tell you the process should be enjoyable, which it is, and I’m not ungrateful, but I sometimes wish that people would step into my shoes and give me some credit, for moving my entire life overseas. It can’t all be sunshine and rainbows. There’s a pride to it. And the dollar is so weak!! Rough patches teach you so much but they’re so hard to get through mentally. You need to constantly ask yourself, “how much do I really want this and how much am I willing to put up with the shit?” You have to do it because you love it.

RT: And it’s always good to remember that life is life and you find that issues are the same no matter where you are.

JC: The amount of days I want to have the day in bed. But haven’t allowed myself to because the guys I live with get up and go do their successful careers and deal with the city like it’s not a thing, and I think “I’m exhausted”… maybe because I’m constantly trying to match their pace. Then I think hold on that’s stupid, I’m trying to go at their pace, not my own.


“Rough patches teach you so much but they’re so hard to get through mentally. You need to constantly ask yourself, “how much do I really want this and how much am I willing to put up with the shit?” You have to do it because you love it.” - Jess Cochrane


RT: Tell me about the mini series you were involved with for the ABC.

JC: ABC approached me and seven other artists to be in a miniseries, exploring how the self connects with your work – self-portraiture through different practices. It was a real journey through my mental health, which was at its most tumultuous point, and I ended up having a real breakthrough with my art. It allowed me to shine a light on my problems, helped to see myself properly. It was almost like I couldn’t tell people how I was feeling past certain words, but when I painted this thing, it was visualised and I was able to communicate it. People could recognise it and relate to it, that it was from the self and from the heart. I realised that what I was feeling was not uncommon; so many people feel this way so it really resonated. It was hugely therapeutic and cathartic.

RT: How did your art develop growing up?

JC: My dad is an art teacher, I was always art inclined, so many days were spent life drawing and learning traditional art techniques and art history, where women definitely looked certain way. But then I would sit in my room and read every single Vogue magazine and look at the really skinny models, and all the different looks that were in like suddenly it was cool to be rake thin. I spent so long trying to figure out why I felt so inadequate not only as a person but as a woman and also an artist. It felt hard as a woman. We’re fed such contradicting words. We’re just conditioned to feel self-conscious. And making my art which was combining the two – something very glossy and commercialised (how we’re supposed to look in the eyes of the false advertising world) versus the honesty and imperfections of painting and moving paint around, was very interesting to me. It was a meeting of the two binaries, it was my life visualised – it was like I didn’t really realise until this happened, until I had my graduate work. Everyone commented that it was strong, but I wasn’t trying to tick boxes, but rather trying to connect the dots in my own life. And that to me is what makes a good artist. Their work is connecting dots in their own life. It’s always about the artist and the self. So it was interesting. The process of moving on and being in a different city changes the way you work and see things. If you’re away from home, you’re always going to be thinking not just about your own life, but about your work. So it’s a part of being a creative, you’re always putting pressure on yourself because you’re constantly questioning everything. We’re programmed to self-critique: “why is this like this, why am I like this?” If you add your own mental health or insecurities into it, or allow them to take over, it can be really overwhelming.

RT: Do you think it’s important to speak up about mental health in a public arena?

JC: I think it’s important for platforms like this one (Real Talk Project), which is a safe space where you won’t be judged. It’s so easy to feel so much but we as creatives are still always tapped as overly emotional types, like we don’t have real jobs. The stereotype is that we don’t work that hard, but we have to work twice as hard, we have no stability and are putting our whole selves into our work. There’s no switch on and off, making it very easy to get too in your own head. Especially on this trip, I’ve had moments where I’ve just met someone, and I’ve felt like I wanted to pour everything out, which can be a lot to put on people, so you need to be careful. It’s hard being emotional and putting yourself into everything you do all the time. Which is why it’s so important to have safe spaces where there’s no judgement, and you can tell the truth.

For me, if people can look at my work, and what I have to say and can think, “I can relate” and “you’ve helped me”, then that’s all I want. But at the same time, there has to be a balance. Especially this year, I’ve been doing so much talking but not much making that’s relevant or personal enough for me. So in speaking about it, I still don’t feel like it’s enough because I’m not delivering all I want to deliver. So it’s a catch-22. But it’s really important to have the safe spaces to put your whole self on the table and get it out of your body, which takes a lot of bravery and courage. Creatives are the last people to say that: they’re the hardest on themselves. If you’re feeling too much, too overwhelmed or very self-conscious about what you’re doing in a new city, it’s easy to not feel like you can make anything. I had a few weeks of not knowing what to do. You have moments where you overthink everything and forget that it’s something that comes naturally.


It’s a part of being a creative, you’re always putting pressure on yourself because you’re constantly questioning everything. We’re programmed to self-critique: “why is this like this, why am I like this?” If you add your own mental health or insecurities into it, or allow them to take over, it can be really overwhelming. - Jess Cochrane


RT:  What’s one of the biggest challenges of being a creative dealing with mental health?

JC: One of the cycles of being a creative is that if I’m loving what I’m doing, I end up overthinking it, then fear what others think. Then I realise I don’t care so much what people think so I go back to making it and it becomes a cyclical thing. And the further from home comforts, the more intense it feels. It’s ok to feel drained though. Going on big trips or doing big things, it’s all self-discovery really. Sometimes you put too much pressure on yourself to be doing everything in that moment, but really the benefit of that experience is only felt post-experience. So you leave it and reflect, and look at everything that’s happened, then you have the capacity to create. It’s real time research.

I’m also so aware. I wish sometimes I was less aware, I’ve never been at a point in my life where I’ve questioned so much and thought so deeply about things. It’s all happening at once and is so full on. I feel like I’ve lived two separate lives – going to a foreign place is very liberating, I had a huge overwhelming sense of freedom when I first arrived, free of everything people think of me, but at the same time I went from the elation of freedom, to complete isolation, because everyone’s so busy here and I can’t see my friends, and it’s the rat race. It’s almost like bipolar, you feel everything in full effect, the highs and lows. You learn to balance out the feelings but it’s so hard, especially in constantly “on” cities like London. It’s hard to find the balance and neutrality to just stop.

Image:    Jess Cochrane

RT: What’s next?

JC: I’m not sure what my life is going to look like – it’s blurry. It’s a funny feeling like I don’t have a clear path of what next year looks like, I’ve been trying hard to figure it out, but I just don’t know, the unknown is scary, but having said that, I have a goal in mind and that’s to get back to London as soon as I can. I have so much to do in the meantime, which is terrifying and exciting all at once.


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Real Talk is an online wellbeing project for creative people, written and curated by me! Through a monthly newsletter we share original articles (like this one) and exclusive curated content that we feel will compliment the topics we’re discussing in our articles. Things like TED talks, podcast episodes, videos, wellbeing exercises, worksheets and many more inspiring resources. Sign up to our newsletter to get your monthly dose of Real Talk and be empowered to improve your wellbeing so that you can lead your best creative life!

 

Real Talk

THE LONELINESS OF SOLO BUSINESS

 
Real Talk by Kitiya palaskas.jpg

As a solo business owner, there are certain parts of the job that can get a little lonely. Many nights and days are spent hunched over your computer or phone, hustling, making connections, wearing all the hats and all the while remaining the ‘effervescent and impossibly fresh’ face of your business, championing it till the cows come home. This is tiring stuff!

Having someone to bounce ideas off, splitting tasks, dividing accountability so you can bolster each other up are things I dream about. Of course there’s amazing things about going it alone – you can take things in any direction you like, whatever you make is yours and you only have yourself to rely on. But there is definitely a sense of isolation that comes with it. I’ve found that the single most important thing to remember in combating this kind of solitariness is to look after yourself. If it’s just you then you’ve only got you to worry about taking care of (besides all your clients and networks and family and friends of course!) But before all them, you come first, because if you’re not on top of your game, you have no chance of doing the same for those around you. I’ve put together a few of my go to coping mechanisms below:

  • Constant journaling: I write everything down. Whether it’s a task on my to do list, a note to myself, or a quote I like. I try to regularly (mostly it’s down to weekly unless I’m on a roll), journal about how I’m feeling, what’s happening for me and what I think about certain situations and events happening in my life. Getting it down on paper and out of my head definitely clears out a lot of the thoughts that swirl around making it hard to concentrate.

  • Talking to people: call a friend. Call your mum. Whoever it is that you can talk openly and freely about what’s going on for you, call them! Or visit. Or meet for coffee. There is something so comforting about human connection, and simply having someone that you trust hear what you’re saying, relieves you of so many burdens. Knowing you’re not alone is a very powerful thing. And I can absolutely say with confidence, you are most certainly not alone.

  • Following on from that, I think it’s important to surround yourself with trusted people that you know you can rely on for advice, help, support or just an ear to listen. Humans were supposed to belong to tribes, so it’s no wonder we thrive on having one around us. Find yours and utilise it.

  • Let yourself feel things: so often we feel an emotion arise and we’re either too busy or too embarrassed to let it just come out, in all its glory. I always try to let myself feel an emotion as it comes up. Even if it’s just for a short time, I find that if I let myself feel it, I can more quickly move through it. It also is great practice for understanding your emotions and triggers. Feel the feels.

  • The last one is to try not to be too hard on yourself. This one is, funnily enough, the hardest one for me, as I am typically extremely critical on myself. It’s in our nature to compare ourselves with others, which is totally fine to do, but when it consumes you, you can run the risk of losing yourself in the process. Whenever I’m feeling overwhelmed with what I’m doing/not doing and what everyone else is doing/not doing, I take a literal step back (I stand up from my desk and step back, sounds silly but it works), and take a look at all the things I currently have and what they’re allowing me to do (what I’m grateful for having currently) and I remind myself that I am not other people, that I’m unique and they’re probably going through the very same stuff at the same time about someone else. Everyone’s just on their own ride and we’re all trying to work stuff out.

Whatever you’re doing, whether you’re doing it solo or with others, remember that you’re doing an amazing job and you’re going to be ok.


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Real Talk is an online wellbeing project for creative people, written and curated by me! Through a monthly newsletter we share original articles (like this one) and exclusive curated content that we feel will compliment the topics we’re discussing in our articles. Things like TED talks, podcast episodes, videos, wellbeing exercises, worksheets and many more inspiring resources. Sign up to our newsletter to get your monthly dose of Real Talk and be empowered to improve your wellbeing so that you can lead your best creative life!

 

Real Talk

SURVIVAL TIPS FOR BUSY PEOPLE

 
We visited the Seven Magic Mountains installation in Las Vegas. Very inspirational and a great way to get into holiday mode!

We visited the Seven Magic Mountains installation in Las Vegas. Very inspirational and a great way to get into holiday mode!

Hey everyone!

I'm writing this from a little apartment in Mexico City, where I've just woken up to my first day of a 4 week vacation around this amazing country. I've just spent a week in LA and Vegas, and while it feels like I have been away for much longer, it still feels surreal to be on holiday. Maybe this is due in part to jetlag, but mostly because my mind is still well and truly stuck in work mode. I feel guilty at the prospect of being away from my business for so long and for my work flow to suddenly come to a halt when I'm so used to riding that momentum from one job to the next. 

I think it may take some time to shake this mindset off and decompress from what has been a truly insane few months. From July to October it feels like I literally did not stop once or come up for air. I barrelled through project after project, juggled multiple insane deadlines, and pulled countless all-nighters to get stuff done (something I hate doing), all while working my day job 3 days per week. I literally feel exhausted just from writing that! Now, I'm not attempting to glorify this extreme workload situation, nor would I ever want to promote busyness as some kind of badge of honour. This scenario is just a reality for a lot of freelancers, or those balancing design work with other life commitments. Sometimes shit just gets crazy! 

This is a fake ceiling in an underground mall at Caesars Palace. It doesn’t sound like it would be a relaxing place but it was surprisingly serene!

This is a fake ceiling in an underground mall at Caesars Palace. It doesn’t sound like it would be a relaxing place but it was surprisingly serene!

As I have previously mentioned, craft-based design is a niche job with a laborious workload that tends to fluctuate a lot. Sometimes I don't have that much on and can be a bit more chill about producing work, but other times I get inundated with great design opportunities that I really want to take on, and no matter how organised I am, how we'll I've managed client expectations, or how fast I work, I all of a sudden find myself with a bunch of big projects on the go, all with competing deadlines. 

This is when I slip into what I call "Deadline Mode", which can kind of feel like a survival challenge. Deadline Mode involves one or more of the following things:

  • All-nighters

  • Abandonment of regular sleeping, eating, washing laundry, seeing friends, hydration, grocery shopping, exercise, free time, and most other daily human tasks

  • Extreme swings in mindset from motivation, determination and enthusiasm to stress, frustration, panic and a whole spectrum of other feelings

  • Emotional breakdowns

  • Binge eating (hate you/love you Uber Eats)

  • Binge watching of Law & Order SVU (let it be known that this is actually a positive, not  a negative)

  • So much craft mess, with no time to clean it up so I'm basically living in craftermath for the entire deadline period

  • Numerous other gross things that adversely affect my mental health 

I know I can say no to jobs to try to minimise this happening, and I know this way of working is very problematic but it does seem rife  across the creative industry, and I often wonder why it is so common. Perhaps this forms part of a greater conversation about why so many of us encounter this way of working so regularly; why we let it happen, and how this could be related to the bigger picture of how creatives are valued; and how there can be a discrepancy between demand for quality output vs the time (and often money) offered in return. (I touched on these issues a little but in my recent interview on the Never Not Creative podcast.

Parks like this one in Mexico are a great place to decompress.

Parks like this one in Mexico are a great place to decompress.


Perhaps this ("Deadline Mode") forms part of a greater conversation about why so many of us encounter this way of working so regularly; why we let it happen, and how this could be related to the bigger picture of how creatives are valued.


Regardless of why this is happening to me (and believe me I'm working on trying to shift the way I work to avoid it) the reality is, sometimes things get stressful, and when that happens it's good to have an arsenal of tools you can use to combat it. After many Deadline Mode experiences I've learned a lot about the way I work, and how to minimise stress as much as possible so these experiences don't overwhelm me or get in the way of me getting the job done. Like everything, this is a work in progress for me, but I thought I'd share some of my current survival tips in the hope that they can be useful for you when you're next feeling under the pump. Here goes!

1. Trust that it will all work out

If you're like me and have experienced many busy and stressful periods, it could help you to remember that you've been through it all before, and you survived! Sometimes just the simple knowledge that you've overcome seemingly impossible situations can reassure you that you are capable of doing it again this time. You got this!

2. Manage expectations 

While it's important to be open with your clients/collaborators  about the realities of your availability and how long a project is going to take to complete, it's also super important to be honest with yourself as well. Be realistic about what you can achieve each day and try to spread the load. Overloading yourself with epic expectations that may be physically impossible to achieve is a sure way to increase stress and make you feel like you're failing before you've even begun.

3. Set boundaries and stick to them

Before heading into a stressful period I find it's helpful to identify my limits regarding how far I am willing to physically and mentally push myself to get the job done. It's really easy to push too hard when you have a lot on, which can lead to burnout, breakdowns, and even physical illness. Setting boundaries for yourself (for example, "I will get at least X amount of hours sleep per night, no all-nighters") can help manage the expectations I spoke about in Tip 2. No job is worth compromising your physical or mental health! This should be a daily motto for all of us. 

4. Learn from past experiences 

After countless creative projects I have learned a lot about the way I work. For example, I know that I spend a lot of time in the planning and development process, with the actual making part happening in a short and super efficient burst towards the end of a project timeline. This happens because it takes a while for my plans to crystallise, but once they do, everything is mapped out to the last detail, leaving only the physical execution to be done. I used to get so stressed about this way of working, viewing this long development time as procrastination, feeling like I was that shit person that always left things until the last minute. But now that I recognise this as my unique way of working and NOT me being lazy, I can ditch the stressing and self-criticism and get on with the job.

5. Use lists as your lifeline

Stress for me can often occur when I have a million to-do’s floating around in my head and no clear idea of how or when they are going to get done. So lists are everything to me! You might not be a list writer but I encourage you to give it a try because they can really help with time management. I like to map out my entire timeline before a busy period begins and assign tasks to each work day. Getting it all out on paper allows me to sort of switch into autopilot and just methodically start working through the list like some kind of craft robot. The key to lists though is being flexible with them and open to the reality that you may need to shuffle tasks around and might not get everything done each day and that's ok. Also, it's REALLY satisfying to cross something off a list, right?! Use a fat red pen, it feels even better!


Sometimes just the simple knowledge that you've overcome seemingly impossible situations can reassure you that you are capable of doing it again this time. You got this!


With a bit more of this, I think I can finally start to relax…

With a bit more of this, I think I can finally start to relax…

6. Make yourself comfortable 

When you're stressed, the last thing you want is to feel uncomfortable in your work environment. This is not conducive to getting shit done! When I'm in Deadline Mode I always move my work home instead of staying at my studio. Because I often work late, it's way more comfortable to be home rather than at the studio which is in an old warehouse that's quite creepy and desolate at night. While it's not always great to be working on big, messy projects in my little bedroom, at least I am somewhere safe and cosy. Whatever your scenario is, and however you want to do it, making yourself as comfy as possible will help you be more productive!

7. Keep it tidy

Oh man, this one is everything. I am naturally quite a messy person, so I try to reset my workspace at the end of every day during Deadline Mode, no matter how late it is or how much I CBF in that moment. Waking up to a clean, tidy, and organised space, ready and waiting for you to get cracking is a glorious feeling, especially if you're like me and mess = stress.

8. Move your body

Oooh, this one is also a goodie. We know that physical exercise can reduce the effects of stress on our bodies. But often, when you're busy, your normal routine (including time for exercise) goes out the window. Long hours of sitting down with no movement does not make me feel good, so I try to make time for a bit of physical movement every day when I’m busy, even if it’s just a walk to the cafe for a coffee before I start the daily grind, quick breaks throughout the day to stand up and stretch, or time in the evening for a little home yoga session to decompress before bed. Do whatever works for you!

9. Pre-prep meals

When I'm super busy my healthy eating aspirations tend to be replaced by desperate Uber Eats binges or late night scrambling under mountains of craft debris for those 3 crackers I know I left there 2 days ago (and this may be all I eat that day).. These are not good habits! I love a good batch meal prep, so I've recently started doing this when I know I'm about to go into a busy period. It's been really good because I can cook something super healthy and filled with nutrients to help fuel my body so i can survive Deadline Mode, and all I have to do each night is heat it up!

10. Take a break

Sometimes I can become a bit of a martyr to my work, which I hate. When I'm in a busy and stressful time I often feel guilty for even considering resting when there's so much to be done. This is dumb because recharging my brain and body is the key to productivity! If you're a bit the same and find it hard to rest when you're under the pump, it's OK! As weird as it sounds I find that scheduling breaks into my timeline (add it to your to-do list!) is a way for me to make sure I get some rest and gives me the permission to do so, so I don't feel guilty about it. For a mini brain break on the go you might also like to try our mindfulness meditation, it's great for busy people! 

11. Practice self care

I love the concept of self care! It should really be a daily thing for all of us but I feel it's especially nice during busy and stressful times. It can take any form you like. For me, I love a luxurious shower or bath! Water is very cleansing for me, so during Deadline Mode I'll end each day with a super hot shower, then do something nice like put on my most bougie body lotion, light some essential oils, get into bed, massage my feet and wind down from the day. Make time to treat yo'self every day, it's the best!

So there's my top tips for ya. Stress is inevitable, and also a natural part of life, and it's unrealistic to try to eradicate it from our lives completely. I think we should instead figure out ways to at least minimise it a bit and work around it so that it doesn't hinder us from doing our best creative work.


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Real Talk is an online wellbeing project for creative people, written and curated by me! Through a monthly newsletter we share original articles (like this one) and exclusive curated content that we feel will compliment the topics we’re discussing in our articles. Things like TED talks, podcast episodes, videos, wellbeing exercises, worksheets and many more inspiring resources. Sign up to our newsletter to get your monthly dose of Real Talk and be empowered to improve your wellbeing so that you can lead your best creative life!

 

Real Talk

WELLNESS: A SIMPLE BREATHING TECHNIQUE FOR STRESS

 

Here is a simple breathing technique designed for the times when the work is piling up, the to do list seems never-ending and all of a sudden, you realise you haven't left your desk in hours. This happens to all of us and it's ok. The best way to think about it is to take a breather, regroup and start fresh.

Stop whatever you’re doing for 1 minute (if you can do this at your desk, that’s great, but you may need to excuse yourself and go to the another room if you’re around people and distractions). Sit or stand comfortably, and close your eyes if that’s ok to do (otherwise keep a low, soft gaze). Imagine you have a balloon in your mouth. Breathe in deeply, and as you breathe out, the balloon will start to inflate. Imagine the in breaths containing small stress points that have been niggling at you and imagine them filling up the balloon on the out breath. Fill up the balloon with all the stresses and niggles until it’s full. Tie the balloon in a knot, then let go and watch as it floats up to the sky and eventually out of sight.


Get some Real Talk in your inbox!

Real Talk is an online wellbeing project for creative people, written and curated by me! Through a monthly newsletter we share original articles (like this one) and exclusive curated content that we feel will compliment the topics we’re discussing in our articles. Things like TED talks, podcast episodes, videos, wellbeing exercises, worksheets and many more inspiring resources. Sign up to our newsletter to get your monthly dose of Real Talk and be empowered to improve your wellbeing so that you can lead your best creative life!

 

Real Talk

WHAT I'VE LEARNT HAVING A DAY JOB AS A BUSINESS OWNER: RUBY BROWN

 
Real Talk by Kitiya Palaskas - Ruby Brown image.jpg

Ruby Brown is a curious woman. As an entrepreneur and long-time owner of a boutique nanny recruitment agency, her curiosity and hunger for new experiences saw her starting a full-time job while keeping the agency running on the side. We were lucky enough to chat to Ruby and hear some of the insights (aka: pearlers) she’s had about this experience.  

RT: Can you tell us briefly what you do (what’s your business and what’s your day job?) – how long have you been doing them for?
RB: My business Nanny Match is a recruitment agency focused on quality candidates and good relationships. Nanny Match has evolved over 7 years, mostly as a side-business. In 2017 I took a leap and worked on Nanny Match full time for a year. After a year I scaled back and took a full time job in a tech start-up.

RT: What made you decide to get a day job?
RB: I had decided to work full time on my business because I really needed to know how far I could take it. I'd thought about it before but never committed. One day, I said "fuck it" and took the leap to work full time. We were profitable and growing. It was exciting!

After about a year, legislative changes in the industry meant I needed to restructure my company. It was at that point that I assessed the road map and realised the changes I needed to make didn't fit with my values. So I restructured and stepped back.

I had developed new skills and realised what parts of business were most interesting to me. I took about a month to restructure and guide all our clients and employees through the change.


“It’s rewarding to know that business owners are extremely valuable employees” - Ruby Brown


RT: How did you choose it (did you get poached, did you apply via regular recruitment process or did you know someone?), were you specifically looking in the same field as your business? If so, why stay in the same industry?
RB: Before I made the change, I booked a session with a mentor. She helped me to realise what's important to me: autonomy, control, caring, learning, integrity

I went on a traditional job-hunt, seeking companies and roles that reflected these values. I specifically looked for roles within recruitment, HR and sales, and I ended up working for a tech company in the childcare and education space—a great fit!

RT: What have you found most challenging part about your working situation currently?
RB: I'm an all-or-nothing kind of person, so I'm struggling to split my attention between another company and my own side-hustle. I'm going through a process of accepting that I'm giving my time and energy to someone else's dream. This is challenging because I so deeply believed in the value driving my business. It's easier to believe in something that you fully understand and something that is all yours. I'm grateful I've found another values-driven company and I'm definitely finding alignment there. It's just a process. Learning how to work in such a different environment has been challenging, too. I've switched from a quiet home office to a buzzing, open-plan office in the CBD. A few things that have helped with this change include noise-cancelling headphones, open communication with colleagues, mediation (brightmind.com) and Work by Thich Nhat Hanh.

RT: What has been most rewarding so far?
RB: Using the skills I gained as a business owner to find employment—and make a career change—was very satisfying. It's rewarding to know that business owners are extremely valuable employees. We offer very unique skills, ideas, perceptions and experiences. Working in a bigger company means I'm learning and practising new skills every day. I'm surrounded by very talented people. It's nice to shed some weighty responsibility, receive a solid salary and focus on just one aspect of a business for a while. I can hone in on specific skills and I have all the support I need. I think letting go of my ego and getting stuck in with a team has been really beneficial, too.

RT: What have you learnt?
RB: Everyone is hustling and learning.
Business involves risk and creativity.
As long as you follow your values you'll feel more certain about what you're doing.
It's important to share the weight and responsibility of your business with others. This means giving up some control.


“As long as you follow your values you’ll feel more certain about what you’re doing” - Ruby Brown


RT: How does your owner self and employee self differ?
RB: Interesting question! My owner self is more confident because I have a very deep understanding of the business, and of course, I have control over everything. As an owner I feel that I have more control over my time and direction. As an employee I feel that I have more freedom (less responsibility) but less direction. My employee self is nosey-as-fuck, because I want to understand the why behind everything. I'd like to say that as an employee I have more work/life balance, but I don't, because my personality means I'm obsessing over this job as much as I obsessed over my business.


Get some Real Talk in your inbox!

Real Talk is an online wellbeing project for creative people, written and curated by me! Through a monthly newsletter we share original articles (like this one) and exclusive curated content that we feel will compliment the topics we’re discussing in our articles. Things like TED talks, podcast episodes, videos, wellbeing exercises, worksheets and many more inspiring resources. Sign up to our newsletter to get your monthly dose of Real Talk and be empowered to improve your wellbeing so that you can lead your best creative life!

 

Real Talk

DAY JOB CONFESSIONAL

 
Real Talk by Kitiya Palaskas.jpg

This article has been brewing for a long time, but I have hesitated to post it until now because I'm still trying to process how I feel about this little secret that I want to share with you. Although I have hinted at it a few times over on my personal Instagram, spoken about it at conferences, and been honest whenever someone has asked, the whole time I've still felt a secret shame about it that I can't admit to. At times this thing has made me feel invalid, less-than and like an imposter. But it has also made me feel gratitude, relief and freedom. I feel like I'm at a weird AA meeting when I say this but, I'm a successful craft-based designer, and I have a day job. 

I don't know when or how this crept into my head, but somewhere along the line I formed a belief that to be successful in your career you had to do it full time. Anything else didn't count, or was proof that you were doing it wrong. I will be the first to vehemently tell anyone that this way of thinking is unhealthy, outdated, and just plain disrespectful to all the wonderful and talented people out there working so hard and kicking goals with multiple income streams. But despite trying to do my part to shift this perception for others, I still find it hard to believe for myself.  

Real Talk by Kitiya Palaskas.jpg

Throughout my career so far I have experienced life as a full-time designer, as well as life with a day job. I have worked many different kinds of day jobs, some creative, and some that were so completely not creative and so completely not me that once when my friend visited me at work she would not believe me when I showed her my desk because it was 100% void of anything to do with my personality whatsoever. (I was working as a Policy Analyst. Needless to say, I quit soon after). Both of these lifestyles have had their pros and cons. I think there's a perception that being a full time creative person is as good as it could ever get, but as rewarding and fun as it can be, it can also be fucking hard and pretty unglamorous too. Then there's the perception that day jobs mean you haven't quite 'made it' yet. From personal experience I have to disagree. I have done some of the best work of my career while having a day job.


“I've done some of the best work of my career while having a day job”


At the end of 2016, after a mix of of growing my business alongside part-time day jobs and experiencing stints of full-time freelance design, I decided it was time to devote 100% of my efforts to being a craft-based designer forever. I hadn't been full-time freelance since moving to Melbourne and although what I was offering had always been quite niche, I'd been in Melbourne for 4 years and I felt I'd built up enough of a client base that I could take the leap. I decided I would give myself a year of truly trying to make it work, putting in 100% effort and pulling out all the stops to do this craft-based design thing full time. The year started strong. Among other exciting projects I published a book, which has without a doubt been #1 on my bucket list since I was 12 years old. I had some really exciting stuff going on, and I was feeling great, but then, the work dried up. As I hustled for new jobs, feeling more and more disheartened, I wondered if it was changes in design trends causing this drought, or maybe the financial climate, my elaborate marketing schemes falling on deaf ears...or perhaps my greatest fear of all - that I was offering something SO niche that it couldn't ever amount to a full-time career and that I had been working my ass off for 7 years for a goal that was always going to be unachievable. 

Well, whatever it was, jobs were VERY few and far between for a long while, and it was a really stressful time. Like, REALLY stressful. Not only was I feeling the pressure financially, the stress killed my creativity and I couldn't make any new work, which as you may know is one of the worst things for a creative person to experience. I couldn't attract new opportunities if I wasn't actively making work, but not having any opportunities was making me stressed. The stress was killing creativity, which meant I couldn't make new work, to get new jobs... and on it went. It was the worst cycle ever! Eventually I reached a breaking point, bit the bullet and got a day job. I hated doing it. I felt demoralised and upset with myself that I had failed to achieve my goal that year of going full-time freelance. I felt like I was taking a step backwards. 

Real Talk by Kitiya Palaskas.jpg

But then I got my first pay check and those feelings miraculously melted away. All of a sudden I wasn't worrying about money, and found my creativity coming back as the stress decreased. I started making new work again, and subsequently new opportunities started presenting themselves. Spending time at my day job also gave me the space away from endless thoughts and worries about my business. I didn't realise it prior to this but I desperately needed a break from my thoughts. Focusing on something that had nothing to do with my creativity was a much needed relief. My day job kinda saved my career. 

I don't think this experience would have been anywhere near as shit if that horrible perception I spoke about earlier hadn't been festering in my head the whole time. I don't doubt it still would have been stressful, but I know that without the perception of 'full-time creativity = success' I would have saved myself a lot of personal anguish, negative self talk, and feelings of failure at a time when I really needed to  maintain a positive outlook so I could be proactive and motivated to improve my situation. Thoughts can be so powerful, and if a negative one slips in there at the right place and right time, it can have a long lasting and devastating effect. That's why it makes me so sad when I hear others tell me they're ashamed of their day job and they want to keep it a secret, or that they think less of themselves because they have one. What is so shameful about working hard? Being resourceful? Balancing two workloads and multiple commitments at once? Or doing whatever you have to do to make sure you have money coming in so you can live, while also being your best creative self? Absolutely nothing! In fact, if you are doing all of these things then you are a bloody champion in my eyes. And why do we have to call it a day job anyway? Isn't it simply just another job? All jobs are jobs, no matter if they are creative or not. Also, and this is important: having or not having a day job does not in any way relate to creative success. You have the ability to be creative and achieve amazing things with a day job, as well as without.  We need to constantly remind ourselves of that. I need to constantly remind myself of that. 


“Having or not having a day job does not in any way relate to creative success.”


Look, I'm gonna be honest, sometimes my day job crushes my soul, but being  a full-time designer can too. Sometimes day jobs make me feel like a total pleb, but during other times when freelance opportunities are few, or when I'm going through creative block or feeling uninspired, I feel so lucky and relieved that there is still money coming in every fortnight and that my creativity doesn't have to equate to financial success. Sometimes (most of the time) having a day job makes me work 5 times as hard at my true passion - my design career - which in turn leads to more creative opportunities, and more creative fulfilment. Sometimes creativity strikes when I'm at my day job and I'm trapped at my desk unable to do anything about it,  but other times being there is like a sweet slice of relief from the stress of running my own business. Mostly my day job relieves the pressure of the constant hustle, something I can easily get fatigued by. It opens up precious space in my brain for new ideas to flow and allows me to simply just be creative.

This is probably the greatest gift of all. 


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Real Talk is an online wellbeing project for creative people, written and curated by me! Through a monthly newsletter we share original articles (like this one) and exclusive curated content that we feel will compliment the topics we’re discussing in our articles. Things like TED talks, podcast episodes, videos, wellbeing exercises, worksheets and many more inspiring resources. Sign up to our newsletter to get your monthly dose of Real Talk and be empowered to improve your wellbeing so that you can lead your best creative life!

 

Real Talk

REAL TALK ABOUT REAL TALK

 
Real Talk by Kitiya Palaskas.jpg

Hey guys,

Kit here. Okay, so it’s been a minute since I last posted anything on here. Despite all my fanfare about this being a project based around monthly themes, regularly updated, with fresh stuff for you to read all the time, it seems I have failed to deliver. So in the spirit of open dialogue I wanted to jump on here and share some real talk about this with you. I had very ambitious dreams for my little blog when I first started, hoping to flood your feeds with epic articles and resources on the regular. At the time it seemed that monthly themes might be a good way to structure the content I shared, with stuff being posted all through the week. I was going to pre-write content 2 months in advance (because I read somewhere that’s what real bloggers do), and everything was going to be super easy and organised, even though I was aware that populating a blog with almost daily content is actually a full time job in itself and I already had 2 jobs which equate to a full-time workload, sometimes more. But “I can totally do this” I thought, “this is going to be easy”. 

Have any of you ever felt like this? Where you're so pumped about a new project that you leap in without thinking too much about how it's actually going to roll out?  And you have all the best intentions and want to dream big so being 100% realistic in that moment isn't a top priority? This is a very typical thought pattern for me when it comes to new projects, especially passion projects that I’m really excited about, like Real Talk. I tend to aim SUPER high and jump in with all guns blazing, only to realise quite soon after that I might have bitten off a bit more than I can chew. Even though I know this about myself I am somehow still so naively optimistic that it will work out this time round. I set up huge expectations for myself, and in the case of this project, publicly announce them, and then when things don’t go completely to plan, it can open me up to feeling like I have failed and make me worry that I look like a big dickhead in the eyes of my audience. 

That’s what happened here. About a week after I started this blog, I got inundated with design commissions. As I'm sure my fellow freelancers out there can relate, when it rains, it pours, and I of course said yes to everything. Work opportunities fluctuate a lot throughout the year in the weird world of craft-based design, and as a freelancer you have to jump in and ride the wave when you can. So I found myself thrown into what ended up being the busiest period of my year, which I’ve only just now come out of. Suffice to say, I was so busy trying to manage this sudden avalanche of exciting and challenging design projects that I had no time to do anything else, like sleep, eat, see my friends, wash my laundry, and keep up with my insanely ambitious Real Talk content schedule. 

So here we are in September, with a whole month gone and no new posts. I feel kind of shitty about this, because I am still super passionate about this project. It means so much to me and I want to keep doing it, and I hate that I’ve let it slip, even though I don’t want to blame myself for doing so. I had to work after all. But where to next? I’ve been mulling it over and I think I’m going to try for a more organic approach moving forward. No set themes, no set timeframes, just me writing and posting stuff when I think about it, feel it, or find it. Even when I was creating my first month of content there were things happening in my work life that I thought might be really interesting to talk about on here, but they didn’t fit July’s theme, so I let the moments pass without exploring them further. With a more organic approach to this project I’ll be able to write about things that me or our community are experiencing in real time, which may be more relevant to you as readers. So we’ll give it a go. 

This post might seem a bit unnecessary but I wanted to share what’s been going on. I also wanted to say a huge thank you for the amazing feedback I have received so far on the project. It has really motivated me to keep going and showed me that this project can have a positive impact and help people as they move through their creative lives. Stay tuned for more content coming your way soon, maybe in a less scheduled, more chill way, but definitely still coming. 

As always, thanks for reading!

Kit Palaskas signature.png
 

Get some Real Talk in your inbox!

Real Talk is an online wellbeing project for creative people, written and curated by me! Through a monthly newsletter we share original articles (like this one) and exclusive curated content that we feel will compliment the topics we’re discussing in our articles. Things like TED talks, podcast episodes, videos, wellbeing exercises, worksheets and many more inspiring resources. Sign up to our newsletter to get your monthly dose of Real Talk and be empowered to improve your wellbeing so that you can lead your best creative life!

 

Real Talk

SOCIAL MEDIA AND SUCCESS

 
Real Talk by Kitiya Palaskas.jpg

The effects of social media on our creative wellbeing is a topic I could honestly rant about for days, because I have a real love/hate relationship with social media. While I can't deny it's been instrumental to me for brand exposure and has helped me book a lot of jobs, it's also fuelled so many of my creativity-based mental struggles over the years. I'm sure many of you can relate! Social media seems to play a big part in a lot of wellbeing issues actually, so for this reason we'll undoubtedly talk about it again in future themes, but today I wanted to write about social media in the context of how using it can affect our views on success. 

Using social media to gauge success in any way can be problematic at best. For starters, reality is questionable on social media. Is what we're really seeing or reading an accurate depiction of real life? Also, we choose what to share and when. You might come across a feed with hardly anything in it, does that mean that person is less successful than someone with hundreds of posts? They could just be choosing not to share all of their achievements online, all the time. And if you don't use social media at all? If success is defined by what you share and you don't share anything, does that mean you suck? And what about interaction? We know that having a lot of likes and comments can help propel the success of your brand, but with algorithms controlling a lot of social media content these days, can we really measure the success of a brand accurately based on interactions? Like I said, it's problematic. 

When machines define success
So, algorithms. We know they play a big part in how our audiences are seeing and interacting with the content we share on social media. This is an accepted fact. I hear so many creative people stressing about how algorithm changes are affecting their ability attract customers and clients. I have definitely noticed this myself as well, and sometimes when I'm thinking about it, my thoughts spiral out of control and I wonder whether it's actually not the algorithm at all. Maybe people just don't like me anymore? Then I feel really shit and  have to snap out of it because this kind of thinking is NOT productive! We seem to spend an insane amount of time measuring our success on likes, and it seems that less likes = less successful. We know algorithms control likes now, and an algorithm is controlled by a machine. So, are we letting a machine dictate the way we feel about our own success?!  Guys, that's f*cked up! But seriously, laying it all out like that kind of gives some perspective on the whole thing doesn't it? If we can realise just how ridiculous the concept is, maybe we'll attach less importance to likes and other similar interactions. Because at the end of the day, it doesn't define you, it's just a heart on a screen.

Real Talk by Kitiya Palaskas.jpg

Dealing with 'unreality'
You can't scroll far on social media without coming across some kind of unrealistic portrayal of perfection, success or happiness. We all know this phenomenon exists and we've all bought into it to some extent.  I mean, if i had to choose between sharing a picture of me looking fresh and fancy on my way to da club, or my hangover photo from the next morning, we all know I'm opting for fresh and fancy because nobody wants to see me hungover (trust me). We buy into this when we double tap on (or post) photos of impossibly tidy studios, immaculately styled Work In Progress shots, and beautiful hero images of new projects. And why not? In a lot of ways, social media is an extension of your portfolio, and a legitimate place to attract potential clients, so of course you're going to want it to appear at its best. I don't think there's anything wrong with portraying your brand in its best light on social media, or for that matter wanting to look at something pretty rather than something hungover (because there's enough of that in the mirror thank you very much!). It's how you choose to process this content that matters. 

I know that seeing all this perfect stuff on the regular can make us feel inadequate, like we're lacking in some way because our lives don't look like what we see online. This is where the problem occurs - when you start believing that this is what people's lives look like all the time, and that the story stops at the point of posting, at that point of perceived perfection and success. But let's tell it like it is, no one's life looks like this all the time! Repeat this to yourself until it sticks! I can guarantee that just out of shot lurks the studio rubbish bin that hasn't been emptied for 3 months, the 5 other WIPs composed mainly of stick figures, the fuglier version of the hero shot before Photoshop, and any number of other things that were too real to make the cut. If you can take what you see with a grain of salt,  it might lessen those feelings of inadequacy and let you enjoy social media for what it really is, a curation.

Real Talk by Kitiya Palaskas.jpg

Comparison kills creativity
Comparison is an evil offshoot of inadequacy. When faced with an endless scroll of everyone's achievements and accolades it's easy to fall into the comparison trap. This is a really hard one because once you start comparing yourself to someone else it can be really difficult to shake it off. Comparison can also be a total creativity killer. It's hard to produce work you love when you're pre-occupied with comparing it to everyone else's. And not producing work you love will probably make you feel more shit, am I right? This all sounds pretty bleak TBH, so how can we combat this? This is the point where I'll repeat the life lesson I shared in our first article this month: SUCCESS IS RELATIVE!  Stop scrolling, seriously mate stop, breathe, and spend a few minutes reminding yourself of your own incredible achievements. Remember that everyone's creative path is different and that something amazing that someone else just posted has no bearing whatsoever on how successful YOU are. 

Image:    Giphy

Image: Giphy


Get some Real Talk in your inbox!

Real Talk is an online wellbeing project for creative people, written and curated by me! Through a monthly newsletter we share original articles (like this one) and exclusive curated content that we feel will compliment the topics we’re discussing in our articles. Things like TED talks, podcast episodes, videos, wellbeing exercises, worksheets and many more inspiring resources. Sign up to our newsletter to get your monthly dose of Real Talk and be empowered to improve your wellbeing so that you can lead your best creative life!

 

Real Talk

I FAKED MY WAY IN HERE: SOME THOUGHTS ON IMPOSTER SYNDROME

 
Real Talk by Kitiya Palaskas.jpg

Last year I got invited to speak at a BIG conference. It was the sort of event where there were maybe 2000 people in the audience and even more watching live from around the world (so no pressure or anything!) On the day, when I entered the green room to prep for my talk, I found it already full of other speakers. I knew them all by reputation already of course - they were heads of design agencies, industry game changers, and successful creative entrepreneurs that I had been fan-girling out on for ages prior to this moment.

As I introduced myself, hoping I didn't have lipstick on my teeth (which always happens to me in situations like this), I thought: "I hope I can be a successful designer too one day. I wonder what it feels like to be legit and speak at big conferences like this..." Then I remembered, DERP, I was speaking at this conference. I was here for the exact same reason as them. So how come I didn't feel as legit?

Don't get me wrong, in general I am quite comfortable with owning my talent and skills and recognising that I am a legitimate designer, but sometimes, in moments like these I can feel like I've somehow faked my way into this scenario and someone will eventually realise this and expose me for the fraud that I am. Standing there in that room, my brain started to churn with thoughts like: "Is it a mistake that I was invited?", "They're probably all wondering what I'm doing here", and  "I don't have any actual talent like these guys, I just hot glue stuff!"  I know this sounds ridiculous, but hey, imposter syndrome IS ridiculous. And yet, it's a thing! 

Real Talk by Kitiya Palaskas.jpg

According to the dictionary imposter syndrome is a term used to describe "a false and sometimes crippling belief that one's successes are the product of luck or fraud rather than skill". I feel you dictionary. I feel you. But where does it come from? No one at that conference was actually sitting there pointing at me being like "She faked her way in here! Get her off stage!", and yet I found myself believing it to be true in that particular moment. Have you ever experienced imposter syndrome? When does it manifest for you? It may not happen in every scenario, but if it does, I find it's usually at times when:

  • I'm being praised or recognised for my work or achievements

  • I win a pitch for a job with a big client

  • I achieve something or get an opportunity that's so awesome it feels too good to be true

  • I find myself in a social setting with big-name people from my industry and get asked "So, what do you do?"

  • I put something completely new and big out into the public for the first time (like starting this project for example!)

In writing this list, it's occurred to me that imposter syndrome usually doesn't come from anything anyone else thinks about us, it comes from inside ourselves. When someone gives us an amazing opportunity, a reward, or some kind of positive reinforcement and our negative self-talk happens to be too loud and overpowering in that moment, imposter syndrome kicks in as a manifestation of our self-doubt. 

Real Talk by Kitiya Palaskas.jpg

I believe that identifying what imposter syndrome is,  and understanding where it comes from and when we're likely to be more susceptible to it can help to lessen it's effect on us. Recognising that it's just a by-product of our self-doubt, and that our self-doubt might be raging in this moment because we're about to do something we may be unsure of, and that these feelings are all completely normal will help to diffuse it.

One way in particular that I've personally found helps diffuse imposter syndrome-y feelings is to take a look at my portfolio of work as a whole. Whenever I'm revamping my website to add fresh work or edit out older projects, I find myself realising just how much I have actually achieved so far in my career. Looking at the body of work I have created from that zoomed-out place is a great way to gain a wonderful perspective on everything I have accomplished. I'm usually zoomed too far in on the details of things to see it like this.

In relation to this, I also feel that it's super important to make sure we celebrate our achievements, no matter how big or small. I think this is something that we as creative people often neglect to do, because, as I said, we can get so zoomed-in on certain details, or are already looking ahead to the next project without pausing to reflect on what we've just accomplished. We might still experience imposter syndrome at times, but in reminding ourselves regularly of our value, those fraudulent feelings might just be fleeting rather than forever. Taking time to truly acknowledge and celebrate each achievement is a great way to serve ourselves some ongoing validation that we are in fact legit, we do know our shit, and we definitely deserve to be here.


Get some Real Talk in your inbox!

Real Talk is an online wellbeing project for creative people, written and curated by me! Through a monthly newsletter we share original articles (like this one) and exclusive curated content that we feel will compliment the topics we’re discussing in our articles. Things like TED talks, podcast episodes, videos, wellbeing exercises, worksheets and many more inspiring resources. Sign up to our newsletter to get your monthly dose of Real Talk and be empowered to improve your wellbeing so that you can lead your best creative life!

 

Real Talk

WHAT SUCCESS MEANS TO ME: BRETT PIVA

 
Image:    Luke Shirlaw

Brett Piva is an Australian designer, sign painter, custom typographer, curator, contemporary artist....and a total bloody legend!  I met him while he was in Melbourne running a Sign Painting workshop. We ate some burgers, drank some beers, and then in 2016 he invited me to speak at his amazing design conference MAKEit~MADEit in Newcastle. He's been one of my favourites ever since!

At age 15, Brett began working in the traditional trade of Sign Painting before forging a strong design career starting in London and Sydney. This allowed him to gain an impressive portfolio which includes work for heavy hitters like Coca Cola, Cadbury, Virgin Mobile, Disney, Kodak and Subaru (like I said, total bloody legend). Now, Brett specialises in bespoke, hand-crafted lettering, gold leaf gilding, and murals. His skill set means the unique elegance of a handmade aesthetic is evident in all of his creations, produced through his amazing design and branding studio Pocket Design. 

In sharing support for his community and the arts in Australia, Brett founded and curated the MAKEit~MADEit Conference in 2015. The conference is a day of artist, maker and designer talks presented with a focus of sharing knowledge and practices in the arts along with industry discussions and carefully curated exhibitions. The 2018 conference is just around the corner, coming up on Saturday 21 July at the Newcastle Conservatorium, and alongside a stellar lineup of speakers, artist and maker stalls, and some exciting social events, we are proud to be hosting a unique panel talk to tie in with our July theme, "Success". In the lead up to the big day, we sat down to chat with Brett about the concept of success and how this shapes his creativity. 

Image:    Pocket Design

RT: What does success mean to you? 
BP: Healthy Mind, Healthy Body… Ok, ok. Good burgers, Good beers.

Success for me is knowing I have the freedom to say no. Saying no, is a big one for me. 
It’s given me freedom to work on things I really want to work on. It makes me slow down and not rush through any of my projects. It has given me time to pursue other interests both creatively and personally. Most importantly, saying no has given me time for work/life balance. 

There’s a lot of creatives out there saying yes to everything. Yes to discounted quotes, yes to working on anything to make an extra buck, yes to doing favours to boost their portfolio or skill set, yes to doing that dream project but for little in return. This brings on stress from limited funds, rushed work, long hours, and not enjoying what you are supposed to be enjoying. 


Success for me is knowing I have the freedom to say no. - Brett Piva


Saying no, gives me time to take extra holidays which may consist of a bit of work here and there but there’s nothing to complain about if the projects are enjoyable. Umbrella cocktails with your laptop abroad are always better than cups of tea in the studio.

(Mate, you had us at umbrella cocktails). 

RT: Has this view of success changed for you over the course of your career, and how has this manifested? 
BP: Is it measuring up yourself personally in your own landscape? Considering other artists views which may affect your own? Then there is the added pressure of keeping up appearances for the outside world to see. My studio success was once measured heavily on these thoughts. Recently I’ve learnt to forget about all of them. 

Instead of measuring myself up against artists or other studios working within my field, I’ve learnt to stop checking in on their work and where they are heading. This has helped me discover I have my own style and direction which is unique and I am happy to keep pursuing it at a pace that suits me. 

I’ve stopped listening to many artists views in my industry. Many can tell you how to do things a certain way and follow a certain path. This will be your biggest hindrance. Now, I’m continually bending and breaking the rules which is producing more interesting results. This has lead to more recognition from my peers and added freedom to pursuing more inventive projects.

I’ve stopped thinking about my presence. I’ve slowed down on social media and now only post what I feel is important and unique. It can be a few weeks of silence before I put something on my Instagram feed these days. This has stopped potential clients asking for something similar to what I was posting for the sake of gaining more interest and followers. This was a very bad habit to fall into. I don’t want to create anything similar to what I have done in the past so posting less and more focused content has helped gain a new direction in my work.

So now, success to me is doing whatever I want, whenever I want. Yes, there are client deadlines but if you’re working on projects that have a new focus rather than what you were doing in the past, I’ve found you’re happy to work on it as soon as it’s available.

RT: What are the challenges for you when it comes to defining success and feeling successful as a creative person?
BP: In any industry there can be a lot of set backs, unexpected delays or just getting plain ripped off. It can be tricky but considering how to overcome these situations and start planning the next steps will only add to your success. I’ve learnt to stop focusing on the the negatives and start celebrating the positives. There are a lot of great things to consider in any path you are taking. Focusing on this has made me feel more successful over feeling cheated.

It can also come down to who you’re doing all this for. If you are creating work to impress someone else you’ll forever be chasing that goal. Whatever it is you do, the sooner you start creating work just for yourself, the sooner you’ll start enjoying it. Thus, felling successful in your approach.


Success for me can also be defined in giving to others. If you know something that can help someone else, share the advice with them. A simple tip or trick to help out a fellow creative goes a long way. - Brett Piva


Success for me can also be defined in giving to others. If you know something that can help someone else, share the advice with them. A simple tip or trick to help out a fellow creative goes a long way. You’ll discover you actually know quite a lot about what you do best and sharing it will only see you become more admired for your knowledge, processes and generosity. Helping others has shared a lot of success in close friendships, personal development and growth.

A lot of my creative pals tell me that I have to start talking up my work a lot more when I introduce myself to others in creative industries. Tooting my own horn is something I find really uncomfortable. I’d prefer to just focus on getting to know the person in front of me and tell some shit jokes and hopefully get some laughs. I guess this is a challenge for me but I just don’t want to be known as that dick that only wants to talk about themselves. I guess it’s something to do with holding a stronger confidence in your own work and letting others be the judge of your work or success.

Image:    Pocket Design

RT: What advice would you give to someone who is struggling with the concept of success and feeling like they are or are not successful in their creative ventures?
BP: Who do you really want to be? What are your values? What are your morals in your industry? Who have you helped along the way?

Don’t be that person that will always step on toes to inch closer to something they’ll never reach. Don’t be that person who is jealous of what is perceived to be someone else’s success. Don’t be someone that treats others like dirt with aim to becoming more successful. Don’t chase competition. The only thing you’ll be successful at, is being a dick. 

Instead of being a right Captain Cock, make friends not connections. The more friends you have in your industry, the more people you can share your work with and ask for advice. This will get you much closer to that goal that is out of reach and open up new avenues for sharing any concerns you have about success. 

Be nice, be helpful, be generous. 


Get some Real Talk in your inbox!

Real Talk is an online wellbeing project for creative people, written and curated by me! Through a monthly newsletter we share original articles (like this one) and exclusive curated content that we feel will compliment the topics we’re discussing in our articles. Things like TED talks, podcast episodes, videos, wellbeing exercises, worksheets and many more inspiring resources. Sign up to our newsletter to get your monthly dose of Real Talk and be empowered to improve your wellbeing so that you can lead your best creative life!

 

Real Talk

THE CONCEPT OF SUCCESS

 

This is an article from the original Real Talk blog, which is now archived here on the KP website!
Happy reading!

Real Talk by Kitiya Palaskas.jpg

I'm super excited to announce our first monthly theme, 'Success'! I felt this was a fitting choice for our first ever theme because it's kind of what prompted me to start sharing my real talk in the first place. Worrying about whether or not we are successful is a big thing for a lot of creative people. Our view on what success means can be affected by so many different factors - our backgrounds and experiences, other people's definitions of success, misconceptions, inner demons, societal pressures, what the media tells us and so much more. This month we'll be exploring the concept of success, its varying definitions, and some of the ways in which outside factors can affect our personal views on what success means to us. We'll hear from members of the creative community, learn about Imposter Syndrome and how it can skew our view of success, get real about the not-so-real aspects of social media, and so much more. 

To get the ball rolling I wanted to share some things that I used to think about success, things I personally thought to be true, but that I now (with a bit more time and experience under my belt) consider to be misconceptions. These views were actually quite damaging to a younger me, and made me put a lot of undue pressure on myself, which didn't contribute positively to my creative wellbeing at all! Maybe you've thought them too at some point or another. So here they are, along with some rebuttals from an older, and hopefully more wiser me. 

Real Talk by Kitiya Palaskas.jpg

The more money you have, the more successful you are.
Ew, no. Sure, I like to be paid well for my work, don't we all? But to me, my career achievements and how good I feel about them often seem completely separate to how much money they brought in. There are so many aspects of my creative life that I consider successful, and most of those have nothing to do with money at all, so there.

Success is a portfolio of big-name clients
Having big names on your client list is impressive, but it shouldn't define success. Some of the most incredible creative people I know haven't once worked for a big name client, or even a client at all in some cases!  And what defines 'big' anyway? Even that is subjective. 

Success is creativity full-time, having a day job is for plebs
Ugh, triggering. I've done both (in fact I have a day job right now!) and I can safely say, I kicked goals and achieved amazing things regardless of my full-time or part-time status. Everyone's situation is different, and just because you have a day job doesn't mean you're any less valid than someone pursuing their creative career full-time. Both are great!

Success is finding one thing and sticking to it
I hope not, because otherwise I've failed big time! I'm someone who is constantly pivoting in their career. I have so many interests and I want to pursue them all, and no one can stop me dammit. Picking just one of these interests to pursue for the rest of my creative life makes me feel totally claustrophobic actually. Why not dream big and aim for success in all your chosen fields, you don't need to pick just one!

Success is being a martyr to your craft
Gross, no. We've all met a martyr. You can recognise them by how tired and unhappy they look. I know this because I used to be one. I used to feel like if I wasn't working on my brand 100% of the time, I was failing it somehow. But slaving away late into the night, not taking breaks, thriving on stress, not eating, not showering (ew), being too busy for your friends and family... none of this makes you a 'success', it just makes you burn out! We all go through busy times as creatives, it's part of the process. But realising the importance of finding balance, nurturing your mind and body, and not feeling guilty about taking time out will actually make you better at your job, not worse.

Success means constant motivation, inspiration and dedication
No mate. Having these things is lovely and feels awesome, but it's also normal if you don't feel like this 100% of the time. Creativity can come in waves, and sometimes you're just not vibing. You would never consider someone a failure during the times they weren't 100% jazzed about their creativity, so why would you think it about yourself? 

Real Talk by Kitiya palaskas.jpg

I think it's important to say that despite feeling like I don't believe in these definitions of success anymore, sometimes I can revert back to them out of habit, and I have to try really hard to snap out that damaging way of thinking. It's a work in progress!  But if there's one main message I want to convey this month, it's that SUCCESS IS RELATIVE. It means different things to different people, it can even mean different things to the same person (at different times in their lives). Some people might not think about it that much, but to others it could be the driving force behind everything they do. No one person is the same, and no single creative path is the same, so success is going to look different for each and every one of us.  I think it's important to define success for yourself, and try to not let external factors influence this. It's also important to be open to your definition of success changing over time, mine certainly did, and will again I'm sure.

I hope you enjoy the thoughts and resources we'll be sharing in this first month of Real Talk. There's a lot of juicy stuff to discuss, so let's get stuck into it!


Get some Real Talk in your inbox!

Real Talk is an online wellbeing project for creative people, written and curated by me! Through a monthly newsletter we share original articles (like this one) and exclusive curated content that we feel will compliment the topics we’re discussing in our articles. Things like TED talks, podcast episodes, videos, wellbeing exercises, worksheets and many more inspiring resources. Sign up to our newsletter to get your monthly dose of Real Talk and be empowered to improve your wellbeing so that you can lead your best creative life!

 

Real Talk

WELCOME TO REAL TALK

 

This is an article from the original Real Talk blog, which is now archived here on the KP website!
Happy reading!


Kitiya Palaskas Real Talk Project.png

Hello! Thank you for finding this little corner of the internet, I'm so glad you're here. My name is Kitiya Palaskas and I'm the creator of Real Talk. I am a craft-based designer who has been working in the commercial design industry for the last 8 years. I am proudly self-made and have built my niche career from scratch through a combination of trial and error, persistence, and many, many Google searches on topics like "how to run a design business", "what is an invoice", "marketing tips for total idiots", "how to not be socially awkward in networking settings", and other similar things.

Over the course of my career, the internet has been an amazing resource to educate, empower and inspire me to be a boss - there is literally no end to the incredible information out there to help people build and run successful brands or business ventures. Because of this I feel like I can say with confidence that when it comes to running my creative business, I got this. But over the years I have realised that there is another side to being a creative person. It's something I didn't really consider or think was important initially because I was so excited about the career I was building and too busy learning all those business-y things so I could one day become the cooler, more powerful, more ethnic version of Martha Stewart.  I didn't realise that this 'other side' is actually as equally important to having a successful creative career as learning how to run a business. I'm talking about wellbeing

Real Talk Project by Kitiya Palaskas

Creativity is personal, it comes from inside us. It's an expression of our personality, a reflection of who we are. It makes sense then that all the things that affect us on a personal level are inextricably linked to our creativity. I often wonder why it's easy enough to reach out  for support about things happening in my personal life, but then seems taboo somehow for me to speak up about the same issues facing me in my creative life. There seems to be a stigma attached to this kind of sharing. Luckily we seem to be in a special period of time right now where wellbeing issues are more openly discussed than ever before, especially online. A safe, nurturing space is being formed where we can reach out, speak openly about our issues, seek help, and feel better. The walls surrounding these topics seem to be breaking down and being more transparent and open about our experiences is becoming the new normal, which is why I feel this is the perfect time and place for me to launch this project.

But let me back up for a minute. Hands up if you are a creative person that has ever experienced one of the following (keep your hand up if you're like me and have experienced ALL of the following, multiple times):

  • Fear of failure

  • Self-doubt

  • Lack of motivation

  • Jealousy

  • Insecurity about your creative future

  • Creative block

  • Overwhelmingness (Is that a even a word? Well it is now.)

  • Imposter syndrome

  • Guilt

  • Burn out

  • Pressure to succeed

I could go on...

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I think you'd be hard-pressed to find a creative person out there who hasn't experienced one or more of these things at some point in their careers. That's because just like in our personal lives, these are a natural and normal part of being creative. For me (and maybe you) however, I haven't always been as willing to admit to them, because up until a few years ago I literally thought I was the only one experiencing stuff like this. Everyone around me seemed to be kicking goals and killing it at their creative lives, 100% of the time. As much as I felt confident and proud about my place in the creative industry, I was scared to admit that I sometimes had other feelings about it all too. I wanted everyone to see me like I saw them, killing it and kicking goals. I also didn't want to whine about feelings and how hard things could be, despite being privileged enough to be able to do craft every day and get paid for it. So I never addressed any of these issues or reached out for help when I needed it. Over time this caused all sorts of turmoil for me, including a mega dose of creative block which crippled me on and off for the better part of 2 years. 

Somewhere in the midst of that gross phase I was invited to speak at a design conference. Rather than showing a highlights reel of my portfolio, which seemed like the safe thing to do, I decided to take the plunge and be honest about some of the things I'd been going through that year. I don't know why I to choose to bare it all for the first time ever in front of an audience of over 500 people, BUT, I had been given an amazing opportunity to share my story, and felt it was important in doing so to shine a light not just on my creative achievements, but also the realities, good and bad, of my creative life. So I did it, and guess what, it didn't bomb! The feedback was so encouraging. Many people reached out to tell me they had been through similar things and experienced this stuff on the regular too! The solidarity that I felt in knowing I wasn't alone in these experiences was so wonderful. Over the years since I have been making more of an effort to be open and realistic about creative wellbeing and how I am feeling. The more I do it, the more normal it feels, and each time I realise I am not alone and that the dialogue I am having with others is helping me to build an arsenal of amazing tools to assist me in leading a happy and healthy existence as a creative person.  

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So, what is Real Talk exactly? Well, it's the culmination of my efforts to be more real about creative life. Real Talk is a safe space for open dialogue about creative wellbeing, structured around a different theme every month. It's a place to share insights and experiences about all the feelings-y things we go through and how to manage them in our day-to-day creative lives. It's also a platform to share inspiring stories and valuable resources from all over the place. I should probably insert some sort of disclaimer at this point so here goes: I'm not a medical professional, nor am I an expert on these topics outside of my own personal experiences. I'm just a gal with lots of feelings trying to make sense of everything so it doesn't get in the way of me making stuff. I'm also not trying to re-invent the wheel with this project. I know there's already heaps of great stuff out there about this so I'm going to try and find all the best bits of that and share it here too. Alongside this I'll be sharing original content (thoughts, opinions, stories) by me and a bunch of creative people I know and love, and also YOU if you're interested (hit me up)!

I really want to form a community around this project, and encourage you to share your own thoughts and experiences by commenting on posts here and on social media. What Real Talk won't be is a place for judgement, or calling out, I want everyone to feel they have a voice within this community and that they can confidently share their stories to a like-minded audience that is willing to hear them. Also, I love an epic rant as much as the next person, but will aim to keep my content empowering and constructive, even if we are talking about things that can be painful, frustrating or negative. If at any time you have thoughts on how we can improve what we're doing here and make it more valuable for everyone, please don't feel shy to speak up. 

Anyway, thank you for taking the time to read our first post. To stay in the loop about what's coming, including an announcement about our first theme, follow us on Instagram (@real.talk.project) and sign up to our mailing list via the form below. 

Thank you so much for being here, I can't wait to get the ball rolling and see where this project takes us!

Speak soon,

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Real Talk is an online wellbeing project for creative people, written and curated by me! Through a monthly newsletter we share original articles (like this one) and exclusive curated content that we feel will compliment the topics we’re discussing in our articles. Things like TED talks, podcast episodes, videos, wellbeing exercises, worksheets and many more inspiring resources. Sign up to our newsletter to get your monthly dose of Real Talk and be empowered to improve your wellbeing so that you can lead your best creative life!

 

Real Talk

THE DESIGN CONFERENCE 2017

 
KitiyaPalaskasTDC2016

Wow, I can't believe it's May already, like how did that even happen?! Some of you may not know this about me, but this time last year I was working part-time at a university, trying to juggle a full-time freelance career alongside a 'day job'. 2017 is actually the first year that I have been 100% devoted to my design practice, having only dabbled occasionally in the full-time freelance life prior to this.  

In the spirit of full transparency, as I promised would be the way I wrote these Real Talk blog posts, I have to admit that the thought of leaving the comfort of a sensible uni job with great benefits and a regular pay check was super scary. But I knew that I would never be truly satisfied unless I was doing my creative thang full time. As a lot of artists who have experienced similar lifestyles can probably attest to, having a secure day job made me kind of complacent. It was just too cushy of a situation to want to try for anything else. But, as I knew would happen eventually, I reached a breaking point and knew I needed to ditch the day job in order to be truly satisfied in my career (and life!) so I took the plunge. It's now May and despite my initial worries, I haven't starved, haven't been evicted from my home, and am somehow making this work. Sometimes I am pleasantly surprised by this, but mostly I just wonder why I didn't do it sooner! I know without a doubt that this was what I am meant to be doing with my life, which feels so good.

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Anyway, the reason why I'm telling this long-winded story is because this time last year I was also invited to speak at The Design Conference (formerly Analogue Digital), an inspiring creative conference and accompanying series of workshops/exhibitions/events put on once a year up in Brisbane. The conference is coming up again in a few short weeks and I just watched the video of my talk from last year. Apart from wondering despairingly if my face truly looks like that when I talk, it made me reflect on the year it's been, and how far I've come since then. My presentation at TDC was not only the first time I'd spoken in front of a huge audience (I am talking terrifyingly huge), but also one of the first times I had spoken publicly about all aspects of being a creative person, in particular all those real talk things that a lot of us may feel nervous to admit to, but that every single one of us experiences at some point in our creative journeys. 
My talk at TDC 2016 actually inspired and empowered me to be more open about discussing these sorts of things, which in turn led to these Real Talk blog posts! 

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If you're looking for some fresh inspiration, the wisest real talk from a bunch of talented and experienced creative legends, or just a huge a kick in the ass to get motivated to chase your passion, you should definitely consider attending The Design Conference this year. It's being held from May 24 - 27 at the Brisbane Powerhouse and registrations are closing soon! Head to https://thedesignconference.com.au to find out more and book your place. 

In the meantime, here's my video from last year's conference. Apart from the gut-wrenching stage fright I definitely felt empowered by sharing this talk with last year's audience, so I hope that in watching it, it gives you a little inspiration boost and perhaps empowers you to keep doing your thing! 

 

Real Talk

REAL TALK - HELLO 2017

 
Kitiya Palaskas just do you

Setting intentions and goals for the new year has always been important to me, especially where my design practice is concerned. Sometimes I'll have set goals I definitely want to try and achieve, and other times it's more of a wish list of stuff I'd like to happen. Either way, writing this stuff out helps to set me on a good path for the year, and motivates me to get started, especially when I'm stuck in holiday mode and all I want to do is listen to Sean Paul - Temperature whilst drinking from a coconut. I thought I'd share some of my resolutions/intentions/goals, or whatever you want to call them, in the hopes that maybe they'll inspire you to write some for yourself, or at least think about how you want your 2017 to look. Here we go!

Keep it personal
Last year I spoke at a bunch of conferences where I was asked to share insights about what it's like to be a designer. I'd seen a few talks like these, but always felt a bit disconnected from the speakers, because I felt like they mostly spoke about the ups of being a designer, and not necessarily about the downs that I know from experience are a normal part of working in the creative industry. So when I was writing my speeches for these conferences I decided to take a different angle, and share some pretty personal things about the awesome moments I've had as a designer, but also about the struggles, steep learning curves, uncertainties, fears and other tough stuff I'd been through trying to forge my career, because you know we've all been there. I was worried that I'd sound like a bit of an emo speaking about it all, and that it might be an overshare, but was pleasantly surprised when I received a positive and encouraging response from my audiences. It empowered me to be more vocal about the realities of my creative life as a way to provide people with real life advice that they could actually use on their own career journeys.

This year I'd like to keep that personal theme going,  despite it being scary to talk about stuff like failures, slip ups, and embarrassing moments in this world of perfectly curated content that can sometimes make you feel that everyone but you is kicking a series of endless goals. Okay admittedly that sentence did sound a bit emo, but you are reading the blog of a former goth that used to listen to AFI and paint tears and spiderwebs on my face with black eyeliner so what do you expect! Anyway, I want to be more open and honest about my experiences, in an empowering and inspiring way, without being a Debbie Downer, so expect to see more blog posts like these this year filled with my juicy thoughts about all the elephants in all the rooms. 

Make real connections
There have been times in my career (and last year it seemed to happen a lot) where I have to admit, I got mega tunnel vision and got swept up in things like follower numbers, likes per post, algorithms changing the way my posts are seen, and all that noise that comes with using social media as your main promotional (and procrastination) tool. I still find it insane that there is a whole made-up and intangible world called The Internet that has the power to permeate and affect us in our actual 3D lives. Think about it for long enough and that concept will seriously trip you out. 

Anyway, things got so insane inside my tunnel that I even started to link the rise and fall of my social media numbers to how successful I felt I was in my career and even how legit of a person I was! That sounds so ridiculous but was actually a thing that happened to me and maybe has happened to you before (can I please not be the only one?!). This year I want to focus on cultivating more meaningful relationships with the actual people behind the likes and comments. I want to try and forget about the numbers, because at the end of the day that's all they are. Instead I'd like to keep making real connections with the actual people that are making the effort to support me and are doing things like posting cute encouraging messages, a series of carefully curated emojis, or a Law & Order meme that is so totally on point that I cry laugh for hours. It shouldn't matter if there are 3 or 3000 of these amazing legends out there, it should be more about the quality of the connections you make with them, online and in real life. 

Get out more!
Speaking of IRL, sometimes you get so frenzied and busy that you forget that there's real people out there doing amazing things in your community, or you see it on social media but you don't have time to actually show up so you just like the post. I love being part of the creative community in Melbourne, so I want to make it more of a priority this year to attend events, exhibition openings, markets (as a punter, not as a stallholder!) and all the other awesome things that people are creating every day for me to engage with and be inspired by. Doing more of this is also another way that you can make great personal connections. 

Just do you
Above all, I want to keeping trying to be as me as I can this year, which sounds obvious but is actually something you can lose sight of sometimes!  I want to speak in my voice, the way I would if you or I were sitting in a room chatting (even if you were kind of zoning out because I talk way too much.) I don't want to put on a weird Kitiya Palaskas business voice or tell you things I think you want to hear, or that make me look good. I'm just gonna do me.