Ashley Brooke Quintana gives credit to being a recent graduate in a bad economy and getting laid off for leading her to a job as a retouch artist.
She attended UCF from 2005 to 2008 and also attended Seminole State College of Florida during the same period. She graduated from Seminole State College with an Associate of Science in interior design.
After graduation, she landed a job at a prestigious interior-design firm. It wasn’t until she got laid off for being the most recently hired person that she decided to move back home and work for her parents.
“My parents have a beautiful photography studio where they desperately needed a retouch artist — or so they said. I of course took the job,” Quintana said. “My parents encouraged me to experiment with my art, using Photoshop and their large printers. My dad constantly said, ‘Just play around, see what happens,’ so that’s what I did.”
She continued to work at the photography studio, mastering Photoshop and later began sketching a few illustrations for fun. Quintana describes herself as an “incessant doodler” and a “lover of paper.”
“When I was little, my mom would make my sister and I write thank-you notes after every Christmas and birthday,” she said. “She would address the envelopes and hand us a book of stamps, construction paper, markers and glitter. It was a chore that became a hobby.”
Although she enjoyed the job at her parents’ studio, she knew it was only a temporary gig before she figured things out.
One day she used the Epson printer she received as a wedding gift to print and create her first stationery pieces. From that day forward, Quintana had a new passion, vision and mostly obsession: stationery. She knew she had to start from scratch to make an illustration company. Keeping true to herself, she named it Ashley Brooke Designs.
What made her stationery and paper designs so popular so fast was the custom illustrations. Living in a society of emails, SMS messages and social network messages, Quintana believes stationery holds a warm, personal value, especially if it’s customized.
“People love to feel special [and fancy]. There is nothing quite like having a custom fit whether it is a dress, suit or paper,” she said. “When something is just so undeniably ‘you,’ you’re bound to get excited. That is what custom-illustrated stationery is, it’s tailored just for you, so it’s really hard not to get excited.”
Reviews and raves about Ashley Brooke Designs began to spread around and outside of Orlando. Becka Robinson, a 2007 UCF alumna, met Quintana at a business seminar and the two became friends.
“I’ve gotten the honor of watching her business grow like crazy in the last few years,” Robinson said.
ABD still provides services to Robinson’s Orlando-based photography business. Bigger clients outside of Orlando quickly began to flock to Quintana’s site for more information about ABD. One of those clients was shoe and accessories designer Lindsay Phillips, whose products can be found in stores nationwide.
Phillips spotted Quintana’s trademark illustration on numerous blog sites before contacting her about doing a Christmas card and possibly meeting for lunch, too.
“Honestly, Ashley is probably one of the most talented illustrators I have seen. We are lucky to have her in Orlando,” Phillips said. “Ashley has been my go-to artist for any illustrations. She just gets me, and I know I can hand something off to her and not have to even think about [it].”
The artistic pair has collaborated on sketches for Phillips’ accessories and even personal announcements for Phillips. Phillips plans to use ABD for sketches for her awaited spring 2013 shoe line.
Even with all the high-profile clients calling the ABD studio, Quintana remains humble. Although a recent stationery piece done for Kathie Lee and Hoda from the TODAY show is showcased on her site, she also showcases her roots: an illustrated piece of a couple clad in black and gold with a banner that says “Knights” underneath.
“ABD has evolved so very much over the last four or so years, even though our vision isn’t the same as it was on day one or even the same as it was last year, I love the direction we are going in,” Quintana said. “And I am so excited to see the next chapter for ABD.”