To celebrate the comeback of our iconic Ready-Made pen, we teamed up with Sylvie Lee Vo of studio SYLVO to design the brand new Cruelty-Free Bunny sticker that will also be making its way into every Ready-Made package. We were grateful to have Sylvie sit down with us for our MOTHERSHIP series where we highlight our favorite people to showcase their talent and expertise. Read on below to learn more about Sylvie and her newly launched website, studio SYLVO, her brave career switch, details on the studio SYLVO x Ready-Made collab, and what projects are in store for her in the near future. Besides her website, you can also find Sylvie on Instagram (@sylbiee) as well as a curation of her playful stationery and art prints on her Etsy shop, SylvieCeres.
First of all, tell us where you are!
Hello from sunny Pleasant Hill, California! It’s a small suburb east of San Francisco, close to my hometown of Walnut Creek.
Congrats on studio SYLVO! Share with us about what you do.
Thank you! studio SYLVO has been in the works for a while, so I’m super excited to finally be able to share it. I’ve been selling my artwork and designs under the business name SylvieCeres Designs since 2013 but recently rebranded to studio SYLVO.
I’m a self-taught artist and designer specializing in playful paper goods and simple, thoughtful gifts. My work is varied, but I’m mostly known for my whimsical watercolor work and delicate line drawings. I’ve also designed and self-published a couple books.
What was it like switching careers and venturing out on your own?
I’ve actually made a few different leaps in my career. The first was in 2013 when I decided I wanted to become a professional “creative.” I grew up in a family of engineers and healthcare workers so the concept of making a living as a designer or artist felt very foreign. At the same time, I was meeting a bunch of incredible writers and designers through my job as an advertising account executive and thought to myself, “I wanna try that!” So I quit my job, moved back in with my parents, and took design classes at a community college. It was humbling and thrilling at the same time. After several internships, I landed a job as a full-time graphic designer and worked happily as part of an in-house marketing team for several years.
In 2019, I began daydreaming about taking my creative pursuits even further. I had already started selling my artwork, cards and books as a side hustle but had a lot of FOMO for all the ideas I wanted to work on but didn’t have the time and energy to pursue. studio SYLVO is my commitment to those ideas. At the end of 2020, I called it quits on my 9-5 once again and now find myself in the thick of another big transition. In a weird way, I feel as though I’ve come full-circle to where I was ~8 years ago. I’m not living with my parents, but I do feel humbled, thrilled and completely at the mercy of what the future holds. Overall, I view venturing out on your own as a tremendous privilege and I take care not to waste any opportunities.
Where do you draw your inspiration, and what does your process look like?
For better or for worse, my brain never really shuts off, so coming up with new ideas just happens naturally. Some of my most inspiring moments happen while exploring new cities, reading an insightful book, or during long car rides; anything that keeps me away from my phone or laptop for an extended period of time. My absolute favorite way to come up with new ideas, though, is brainstorming with other talented people- like the amazing team at Ready-Made! <3
My creative process is... unstructured. Sometimes I’ll have a very clear vision of what I want the end product to look like and I’ll just chip away at that until it’s complete. Other times, I’ll jot down a word or phrase or little sketch in my notebook, knowing it’s the start of something but not knowing where it will end up. I might not return to that idea until weeks later, and I might be in a much different state of mind at that time. It’s kind of like building an exquisite corpse with future versions of yourself. Usually I’ll have a mix of both things going on; short-term & structured vs. longer-term & amorphous. I like variety and I try to always involve a physical medium (like watercolor or ink illustration) rather than working solely on the computer.
Could you speak a little about the studio SYLVO x Ready-Made collaboration?
I’ve been a huge fan of Ready-Made since I learned about them in late 2019 so it's a bit surreal to have this opportunity to work together. I first reached out to Jennifer in a pretty unconventional way: I had ordered something from Ready-Made in the wrong size and needed to make an exchange. On a whim, I included one of my products (a mini calendar) and a fan letter in the return parcel. Jennifer emailed back and we’ve stayed in touch and cheered each other on ever since. How’s that for a meet-cute?!
After daydreaming about a collab together for a while, Jennifer reached out earlier this year asking if I’d be interested in working on a sticker together. Our brainstorming started really broad but we eventually landed on doing something small and packaging-related to promote one of Ready-Made’s core tenets of being cruelty-free. We chose a bunny as the main focus of the sticker since it is a universal symbol of being cruelty-free, but we also wanted to add in some clever Ready-Made flair. Cue the bunny’s chic jewelry, idyllic blossoms and holographic background. I’m really proud of the end result, which feels like the perfect blend of cute, savvy, and space-y.
Can we get a sneak peek of what you have planned for 2021?
Yes! For studio SYLVO, expect lots of fun pattern-based products like wrapping paper, doodle books, and thank you cards. More quirky greeting cards and limited-edition art prints. A foray into non-paper soft goods, like apparel, hats, accessories, etc... Overall, I’m trying to keep it easy, light and airy. I’m experimenting with following my intuition rather than overthinking my designs and looking forward to seeing where this road takes me.
I’m also co-founding another business called Mei-Mei Moon, which will be launching later this year. It’s a retail brand focused on luxury sleep accessories for kids and adults. We’re so early in the development process that I can’t share much more, but hopefully there’ll be more to share soon. :)
Portraits of Sylvie by Nataly Zigdon (@natalyzigdonphoto)
Images of studio SYLVO designs and print assets and sketchbook provided by Sylvie Lee Vo