Real Talk


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:


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

Computer gif by Kitiya Palaskas.gif

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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


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.