Well Hello 2020!!

2020 is here…. “Are you ready?” Well come along and get ready with me! As I plan for the coming year – I’m thinking about what I missed this past year, what I want to do in the next twelve months, and how I want to FEEL when I look back on the year come next December. You know what I’m talking about…. getting sh@t done!

Today brings with it renewed fire people! Ya, I know… we didn’t all wake up to a different world (eyeroll… sigh) but here’s to inspiring yourself and planning the year ahead with positive vibes! You with me?!

I love searching for good advice, so I looked around the wonderful web-wide-world and found the best advice for ME in the coming year – and am sharing it here with YOU.

In the spirit of new beginnings and fresh starts, here are seven things to consider as 2020 begins.

1. Enjoy Your Resolutions.

Resolutions don’t have to be about doing stuff you don’t enjoy. Don’t make it seem like work. Make it fun by staying focused on the things you LOVE and want to do more of. I love to collaborate, create and share… so I’ll be doing more of that – along with breaking a sweat, purging my clutter to make room for new things, sipping cocktails with friends, and dancing like a fool!

2. Set Goals that Inspire.

I’ll be setting some goals that tap into my passions. Maybe some aerial dance or yoga for me this year. Make it something that inspires you and makes you happy!

3. Take a day off. No really… a whole day.

I love this one because unplugging and disconnecting from all the ‘noise’ around me is when I really discover random, unforeseen happiness. It’s also usually when my best ideas come to me. See if you can spend at least one entire day (yes, 24 hours) without being attached to a device. Put the tech down people and lift your head UP to spend real time with pets, friends, family, or just yourself. You’re pretty good company when you don’t have your face stuck in a screen. I’ll be making time to hear my inner voice and learning to actually listen.

4. Celebrate Victories.

Even if you had a tough year, there were definitely things you accomplished when you were at your best… things that came together in just the right way. This is so true for me. I’ll be reviewing my year, writing down the things I accomplished and recalling how good they made me or others around me feel. Then I’ll drink a toast to what made me most proud!

5. Reframe Failures. Oh Ya!

Even if it was a fantastic year, there are always things that didn’t go exactly as planned. I’ll be reflecting a bit on what I learned, what mistakes I might avoid in the future – or just considering how I might do it differently next time around. Maybe this was just a practice run for the real deal coming down the road in the future… and drink another toast to that!

6. Be Thankful. Do It!

Taking time to be thankful. Unless you’re a recluse and never see anyone, you’ve probably had a bunch of people help you this year, sometimes because it’s their job, but sometimes just because they care and they can. I plan on thinking about those people and making a list of how they helped me… no matter how small. I’ll be writing small notes, sending a card, giving a token of appreciation – whatever I can to make it personal and genuine. Take time to thank people properly because they deserve it. It will make YOU and THEM feel good. I always have the best of intentions with this particular goal but seem to get distracted or overwhelmed by what the ‘thanks’ should be. This year, I’m gonna keep it simple and just pick one and DO IT!!

7. Give a Gift.

Give an anonymous gift to something/someone you care about without any accompanying obligation – that’s right, no need for a return ‘thanks’. Find joy in being someone, or something’s, savior. My soft spot happens to be animals – ANY KIND OF ANIMAL! Those furry little friends that make us feel so loved no matter what, they’re always there when we need them (with zero judgment), and give us so much happiness by just tilting their head. The MSPCA will be getting some extra attention in the coming year from ME! Maybe I’ll become a foster momma for this guy…

(Inspiration & advice via Inc)

I also love this roundup on ‘Ways to Support Your Well-Being in the New Year‘ by Harvard University’s Harvard Magazine.

Don’t be shy… leave a comment and share your own favorites!

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Power of the Purse!

Custom Illustration for Brookview’s Annual Fundraising Gala, ‘Power of the Purse’ 2020 Invitation.


Custom Illustration for the nonprofit, Brookview’s Annual Fundraising Spring 2020 Gala Event, ‘Power of the Purse’, to be used on their Save the Date & formal Invitation.

This is Brookview’s 5th annual Power of the Purse event. They’re also celebrating their 30th Anniversary this year so instead of a luncheon they’ll be hosting an evening gala. How fun!

They let me know they were looking for a custom illustration that was stylish and modern, yet urban and universal. I was thrilled to take this on since I’d been actively looking for ways to add a bit more diversity into my portfolio so this job was a win win for everyone!

Nicole Guilmartin is the event planner working with Brookview for the upcoming fundraiser. She also happens to be one of my favorite people, top client’s and best gal-pals. Nicole recommended me to Brookview when they were looking over the past years’ invites (“big thanks NG!”). She took them to my fashion portfolio and sorted through some of my sample work. They picked out a few of my pieces they were particularly drawn to and then got in touch to discuss their needs. They offered some helpful direction – like wishing to incorporate the logo colors and wanting a more ethnic personality – but then they gave me free range to create what I thought would work best.

I immediately had a vision of a strong, confident lady casually strutting down an ‘any city’ staircase surrounded by classic, clean architecture with some trees in the distance while she carryied a big, bold, beautiful bag. Brookhaven’s logo is primarily green, orange and red so working those colors into her outfit and background was pretty easy. I played with some variations of yellow, coral and brown to add an interesting dynamic to the color palette. While I also liked the idea of a cool, icy blue to play off all the warm tones. Brown, peach, green, yellow, red and a hint of blue became the final palette.


I had so much fun finding reference materials to use. Here’s a Style-Board I created that really set the mood of what I was looking for. A confident, strong, easy-going personality that showed great energy surrounded by leopard print, flowing, pleated fabric, and warm, bold, vibrant colors. Don’t you just love that FACE!!

I sketched out a wide staircase with a traditional-style building with curved architectural details and windows. I placed a pretty bonsai-esque tree in the far distance. Then came the best part – crafting my vision for this special lady. Now for the outfit! I loved the idea of a swaying, pleated maxi-skirt in a bright color, a simple white top, flowing full hair, decorative jewelry and shoe/bag styles that incorporated leopard print. (Keep an eye out for a follow-up post where I’ll share all the ‘real product’ inspiration used for this lovely). Once I had her complete style in my sights, I worked her into the scene. Then came a gray scale composition to guide me through placing the color perfectly.


I’m a pretty impatient artist when it comes to getting to a final project. Don’t get me wrong… I take lots of time spinning designs in my head and testing out different options to make sure I’m bringing the best idea to the table. But I’m like Nicole in the way that once I have that vision in my head for the final design… I want to get it done! It’s probably why I love doing up a messy, rough color-comp once I’ve got the pencil sketch and linework done. Sometimes I have a fondness towards these little imperfect pieces more so than the polished final design. This one is particularly sweet since it’s just colored pencil and show’s a lot of texture and personality.


I love this illustration for so many reasons. Truth is… no matter how clear the vision in my head is when I start working on a concept, it always evolves during the process. In the end, what I create is usually a bit of a surprise to me as well. There many subtle ways the image takes it’s own shape – which is always pretty exciting. Even though I envisioned her to be bold, and confident, and carefree – I had no idea of how she would ultimately look. Upon adding the final touches to this fabulous lady, she has done me proud beyond my wildest expectations. Her sassy, stylish vibe combined with her intelligent, strong, comfortable presence makes her a true beauty to be added to my collection. It’s so nice to meet you Gala Gal!

Get in touch if you have a custom illustration needed for an upcoming event, invitation or if you’re interested in a custom print. I’ll be adding a second version of this illustration with more detail in the background to make for a better balanced composition for a standalone art print.

Feel free to leave any comments – would love to hear what you think!

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Create Gallery Cocktail Menu

Here’s a glimpse of a custom menu designed for the recently opened Create Gallery + Cocktail Lounge. This is an amazing new gallery located in Somerville’s Bow Market that features a rotation of exhibits by local artists and hosts 8 cocktails on tap created by favorite area bartenders. If you haven’t heard of it you should definitely check it out!

When these guys contacted me about this design project, they new they needed something for their new gallery & lounge but weren’t quite sure what. After talking through their initial thoughts – wanting some type of marketing handout that summed up their services that captured their cool vibe – it was time to brainstorm some concepts. They didn’t have any marketing materials designed yet to work off for style so I had to design something from scratch that they could then use to build other future marketing pieces off.

Design Concept

I decided to go with a double sided rack card for the menu. It’s easy to display, carry and offered the right amount of space for what they needed. I drafted an initial outline of what should be included for info and then moved on to the fun stuff – color, design elements, and images! The space has a rich, vibrant wall color of deep terracotta and the logo is a medium toned warm blue – these were such great colors to work with. I used tones of deep to medium orange mixed with medium to deep blues for the palette.

Art Direction & Imagery

CG+CL had a collection of photos but for the marketing piece to be perfect, we needed to get some serious shots from a professional. While designing the layout for the brochure I found several place holders that worked as samples for the final piece. I recommended they do a photo shot with a photographer of their choice and supplied them with a shot list… a potential wish list of things we could use for the brochure, but also that they could use in the future. Their photographer did a killer job getting the images we needed to capture their style while making the menu really POP!

Custom Background

I wanted to add some texture and pattern into the background and since this was a cocktail bar, I figured what could be better than some hand drawn cocktails scattered about. I loved the dramatic element that the textured pattern offered and in the end, it all came together perfectly!

Final Design

I loved doing this brochure – not only because it’s a cool new indie biz that showcases local art and serves tasty cocktails – but also because it allowed me to use a variety of elements to create something unique for them that they really needed and how well it showcased what they have to offer.

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Ultra-Chic Marketing Suite

A visual tour of a stunning, brand-new suite of marketing products custom designed for this busy, ultra-chic event planner, Nicole Guilmartin Event’s.

This week one of my favorite clients (and friends), Nicole Guilmartin, got in touch for some help developing a marketing plan for 2019 and a suite of marketing materials for her growing biz. My quick response… “Hell Ya!”

Nicole’s a bit of a rock star and once she decides to do something, she’s ON IT! I admit, this is my favorite type of personality to work with since random brainstorming chats quickly become real life products to be lovingly shared. Creative convos built to inspire!

First Steps First

We met for the initial consult – a vital task to build the foundation of any project. Even though it’s incredibly important and includes some heavy lifting, it’s still super fun and exciting! We discussed Nicole’s overall needs, gathering details to create a concise outline of specific to-do’s and noting them in priority, along with some future suggestions. I walked away from our meeting with enough info to set her up with a pretty thorough marketing plan that would support the coming year’s initiatives – and the next few after. I gave her flexible options she could adjust according to time and budget, and suggested key marketing pieces that she’d get the most value from to start off.

Mostly, I wanted it to be fun for the both of us and not overwhelming. Nothing takes the wind out of your marketing momentum fast than stress and anxiety before you start! I left the options open to her schedule, needs and budget. When she replied, I couldn’t have been happier…

“Abby, I love this so much. It already makes me feel like I have a plan and can be more organized. You do such a great job especially with the schedule to help me break it into attainable chunks. I need that!!!!!”


Nicole’s natural style, existing logo and website imagery made it easy for me to start pulling together a palette of muted plum, smokey mauve, cool gray and subtle peach tones. I also could play off her modern-chic personality by incorporating some geometric design elements including diagonal lines and diamond shapes. I began sketching concepts for key products that made the most sense for her to start with; a seasonal E-Newsletter, marketing brochure, oversized postcard, stationary, personalize note cards and a truly adorable ‘Thanks a Latte’ Thank you card.

Not every client moves at lightening speed but once Nicole got a glimpse of something she liked, she was on fire! Between January and June, we developed one project after the other until she had her entire branding suite laid out to use within her daily routine.

We started with a Seasonal E-newsletter launched Spring 2019 (view SP19 or FA19) with recent event highlights, tips and testimonials. Next came a double sided marketing brochure highlighting key services, then an oversized postcard to send to potential clients, then two versions of stationary – one blank for proposals and the other stylized for invoices, a custom calling card for everyday notes, and finally a super sweet ‘Thanks a Latte’ card for extra special moments of appreciation.


Some favorite moments during this project (other than working with Nicole) were; building a color palette from her logo and website imagery, drafting the editorial lineups and writing some content for the seasonal email, photoshop’ing a manicure onto her latte image to make it ‘pretty’, and learning about all the amazing work she produces during the year. This final marketing suite was smart, sassy, modern and chic – which suited the gal who’d be using it perfectly!

To see more of the work we’ve done together, check out this custom fashion illustration for the 2020 Power of the Purse Gala or this marketing brochure for Create Gallery & Cocktail Lounge at Somerville’s Bow Market.

I look forward to what the future brings with this creative and collaborative partnership. We’re currently working on a 10th Year Anniversary Event for TWToday.org. This kickass women’s professional-mentorship group for emerging female leaders is celebrating a decade of empowering women through connection! Learn more about this ground-breaking group of ladies and their mission here!

Check back soon to see more details about the individual pieces in Nicole’s Marketing Suite – I’ll be sharing more about each in future posts. Check out the list below for a recap of what was included in this lovely project!

Marketing brochure
Oversized postcard
Note Card
Thank You Card

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