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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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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