11 Oct 2017
Self-Publishing Spotlight with Sylvie Lee
Combining her playful, light-hearted artistic style with a desire to help people find time for a little self-care, Sylvie Lee’s beautiful mood-journal, Feelings, offers people an easy, accessible way to track and reflect on their thoughts, feelings, and moods each day. We caught up with her to find out more about her inspiration and hopes for her most recent project, and her day-to-day as a creative professional.
The most important thing is to be fearless!
This book is quite different to your other pieces of work—what inspired you to create a mood journal?
Although the tone of the finished product is playful and light-hearted, the concept for this book actually comes from a more serious place. As I’ve gotten older, more and more friends have opened up to me about their struggles with anxiety and depression. In speaking with them and researching little ways to help, I learned that tracking your mood and journaling regularly can be beneficial. While this book is in no way intended to replace professional help, I created it as a self-care tool for me, and for my friends who struggle with anxiety, depression, or just plain moodiness.
Feelings was designed to be inviting, with simple, straightforward questions that are fun and easy to answer. I think a quick, daily check-in is less intimidating and overwhelming than committing to a more stringent mindfulness regimen (though I definitely admire anyone who can stick to those!).
Are you planning to sell Feelings over the holidays? How do you plan to promote and market it?
Yes, I am! I’ll be selling the book through the Blurb Bookstore and promoting it by posting about it on social media. I will probably create an Instagram giveaway to drum up excitement and encourage my friends and followers to spread the word. I’m also on the lookout for any opportunities to share the journal with bloggers or influencers who are excited about the idea and want to help amplify it. Many sites put together “Holiday Gift Guides” at this time of year, so I’m going to do my best to make it onto those lists.
If the book does well, I’d like to take the earnings to do a larger offset run. The upfront costs will be more, but the per unit cost will be significantly lower. And, I’ll be able to sell it on Amazon and take advantage of Blurb’s warehousing and fulfillment services.
What are 10 things that excite and inspire you? Ideas, objects, places, colors, people, books, music, articles of clothing or jewelry, art tools or gear, anything.
In no particular order:
– Painting—especially watercolor, acrylic, and gouache
– Calligraphy and hand lettering
– My extremely talented co-workers
– Visiting my favorite outdoor spaces: the ocean, thick redwood forests, colorful sunset skies
– Cooking and baking
– Walking around museums
– Exercise—especially swimming, yoga, and strength training
– Spending time with friends and family
– Going to the movies
– Collaborating with people with very different skills and backgrounds
How do you keep the creative ideas flowing? Do you have a practice, a routine, or a mindset that you employ every day?
I like listening to 5-10 minute guided meditations on the train on the way to work. I think of it a bit like clearing the mental cache. When your mind is storing too many ideas, thoughts, and feelings, it can be really hard to focus on the task at hand. When my mind is clear, it’s so much easier to get things done. I find it much easier to communicate my ideas in a straightforward visual design as well.
What do you do when you want to finish a project but feel stuck?
I am always working on a dozen different projects at once, so I deal with this dilemma in two opposing ways. I either take a break from it and work on something else or I set a deadline for myself and don’t allow myself to work on any other projects until I finish the project in question.
What is your favorite thing to do or make?
I love to make things with my hands. I feel most accomplished when I’ve made something beautiful and tangible. This applies to both art and food!
Who are two artists you enjoy and what do you like about them?
I love Richard Tuttle’s work, especially his paintings. I love the way he mixes bright, whimsical colors with neutral tones and commonplace objects in a way that feels beautiful, effortless, random, and thoughtful all at once. His philosophy on art is also very inspiring and validating—senseless beauty as a response to a senseless tragedy, art as a means to process grief and suffering.
I also love the quiet precision of Agnes Martin’s drawings and the way Alex Katz is able to breathe life into his portraits while simplifying his subjects into texture-less colors and shapes.
How would you describe your style? What influenced you?
My style is very playful, colorful, loose, and abstract. My grandmother was a classically trained Chinese watercolor artist and gave me a few lessons as a child. I’ll always be grateful to have seen her talent and skill firsthand.
How do you find time to balance work, play, and your many different creative projects?
This is a tough one! I love what I do so much that “work” often feels like “play,” but I could always use more hours in the day. I take advantage of my long commute by working on the train, but I do have to set limits for myself as well. I try to maintain a consistent sleep schedule, stay away from the computer for at least one day on the weekends, and log off social media. You can’t do quality work if you’re sleep deprived, working non-stop, or constantly comparing yourself to others. The rest of it comes down to planning ahead and knowing how to prioritize your projects.
You can’t do quality work if you’re sleep deprived, working non-stop, or constantly comparing yourself to others
What would be your one piece of advice to other creatives looking to develop a side hustle?
When you’re first starting out, really challenge yourself to know when “done” is better than “perfect.” I’ve seen so many talented people sitting for way too long on projects that are 95% there. You might not ever feel ready or good enough, but sometimes just the act of getting your work out there is where the value and learnings lie. Start small if that feels more feasible to you, but get your work out there! You can always refine your product and find ways to improve on future iterations. The feedback and insights you get from putting your work in front of real people will build your confidence and be more valuable than any hours spent perfecting your kerning or tweaking color palettes. Once you have an understanding of what’s working for you, you can spend more time really refining those last few details. In short, the most important thing is to be fearless!
If you think you, or someone close to you, could benefit from a little daily self-reflection, you can find Sylvie’s journal, Feelings, for sale in the Blurb Bookstore. BUY YOUR COPY TODAY.
Inspired to get your own creative side-hustle up and running? Find out just how quick and easy it can be to set your work up for sale with Blurb.