Alumni Spotlight: Shelby Taylor ’16
Shelby Taylor, a 2016 graduate of the School of Industrial and Graphic Design (SIGD), was recently promoted to Art Director at CALPAK, a company that designs and manufactures travel accessories like luggage, carry-ons and more. She now leads and maintains CALPAK’s brand presence through product design, graphic design, web design, messaging and content creation.
While she’s always loved to travel, it didn’t initially occur to Taylor that she could specialize in designing luggage. In 2015, she and several other students, led by SIGD faculty member Shea Tillman, traveled to France for a week-long design workshop. She remembers researching luggage in an effort to find a suitcase that could take a beating while traveling the streets of Paris and Lyon, and that was when she first discovered the CALPAK brand. Two years later, she noticed the company had a ‘careers’ page on their website. “The only position available was for a graphic designer, but my gut told me to apply and wait to see what happened,” she recalled. “I had a phone interview a few days later, a Los Angeles interview the following week and the job within an hour of leaving the building. Fate is funny sometimes.”
Taylor began as a designer at CALPAK and moved up to senior designer and then design lead. Now as Art Director, she takes the company’s goals and objectives and analyzes supporting data to create the brand’s visual experience. While she used to design new products and promotional campaigns, her duties have broadened greatly in her new position. She now communicates yearly trend reports and design direction to the production team, works with other leaders to explore various brand opportunities and directs editorial campaigns and commercials on set. She also presents strategy decks that encapsulate the visual identity on a yearly basis. “My focus is now on the art of storytelling,” she stated. “In short, I spend my days curating the CALPAK essence with thoughtfulness, intention and fun.”
Taylor leads CALPAK’s creative team, which includes a few internal creators and a vast network of supporting designers, photographers and stylists. She remains a big fan of the company’s products and says her favorite pieces are from a collaboration with celebrity hair stylist Jen Atkin. “She came to us with a very singular purpose: to create luggage for career women like her,” Taylor stated. “Every design detail, down to the luggage cover and packet of free stickers, was thoughtfully considered by her and it shows. Hands down, it is the best luggage I have ever traveled with.”
She says that while Auburn’s Industrial Design program was challenging, the lessons she learned in SIGD have stuck with her throughout her career. “I used to think the Industrial Design program was difficult for the sake of being difficult. With all of the late nights, rough design critiques and computer crashes, I assumed I was learning about humility. But in fact, Auburn was teaching me about resilience.” Taylor encourages students to find healthy habits while they’re in college that foster and nurture creativity and allow them to protect the passion they have for design. “Creativity is a unique and precious thing. It makes us sensitive, analytical, empathetic, impatient and, even in the best working conditions, vulnerable. My ability to communicate critical design solutions and maintain my love for what I do is a direct result of my education at Auburn.”