Get to Know Shutterfly Designer Pinckney T

Have you ever wondered who the creative mind is behind our beautiful photo book designs?  Shutterfly has a team of designers that work tirelessly to bring customers fresh, fun and sophisticated styles to help you tell your unique story in a photo book.

Meet one of our lead in-house designers, Pinckney T!  Today, she tells me a little bit about herself, and the inspiration she uses to create the radiant collection of photo book styles.

When did you know that you wanted to pursue a career as a designer and what inspired you?

Growing up I felt happiest when I was creating and making things whether it was a batch of cookies, taking pictures or painting. I loved solving problems through design and for as long as I can remember I was fascinated by color, illustration and all art mediums. I had actually thought I wanted to study photography until I took a program at RISD and my interests drew me towards the graphic design program instead. From that moment on I was hooked on design and how different elements (including photos) can come together to convey a message in a beautiful and meaningful way.

Where do you usually find your inspiration?

I find inspiration everywhere! Members of our our in-house team are experts at scouring blogs and design sites for inspiration and we share our findings with each other daily. We also read the latest trend books and take trips to museums together and are always open to new ideas, no matter how “out there” they are. In addition to that I can be inspired by any and every thing around me. You never know when you’re going to see something that inspires you. I keep my camera with me at all times and if I see something I can’t photograph, I take notes on my handy-dandy-iPhone so I remember it later. By doing this I build a library of personal inspiration that I turn to when starting new projects. We also all love, a site that helps us catalog and follow designers and images that inspire us.

Who is your favorite artist (of any medium) and why?

This is a really tough question! I’m not sure I’ll be able to pick just one, but I love Cy Twomley for his ability to express himself and the stories he wants to tell. I love how his paintings blur the line between drawing and painting and texturally his work is so fascinating to look at it’s hard to look away. He uses mathematical equations as design elements, which goes to show you that beauty and art can be found anywhere and in everything.

There are many graphic designers I love and admire but I always feel happy and inspired by Paul Rand. What inspires me most about his work beyond its beauty is the strategy and intelligence behind it. Visually, his use of color and illustration paired with strong typography set him apart and gave his work a distinct voice. He put an emphasis on cleanliness and simplicity to directly and clearly convey a message. He inspires my work daily.

I have also forever loved Alexey Brodovitch, the art director for Harper’s Bazaar from the 40’s to 60’s. His collaboration with photographer Richard Avedon, and the way he integrated type, photography and color was always unique, elegant and always supported the story he was trying to tell. I have a huge black and white photo of Alexey hanging in my apartment that inspires me every time I look at it. Ugh, see? I couldn’t stop at just one.

Describe your style in three words.

If I had to pick 3 words that describe my style it’d be eclectic, vintage meets modern and colorful! Also, I’m not sure that was 3 words. I love playing with color and throwing together patterns and textures that may not traditionally go together. I always get excited when something unexpected works, and this goes for my design work as picking out what to wear day to day.

What creative steps did you take when designing our photo book style, Travel Snapshots.

Travel is always a challenging occasion to design for because every vacation and journey our customers have is unique to them. We always want to do more and provide a broader range for our customers to choose from so they can personalize their story. With this style we began by doing a lot of research and designing a mood board and palette to give us a sense for what this style would feel like. We wanted to create embellishments and backgrounds that would work trip to trip and showcase customer photography, no matter where you are in the world. Immediately we started talking about our love of Polaroid and “old school” framing in a digital photo book style. The frames instantly evoked feelings of nostalgia. Our in-house team looked at a lot of journals, customer photo books, trends in photography and storytelling. We placed photos from different types of trips in the book to see how different vacations would be supported. After a lot of mock-ups and testing with a variety of photos, we end up with a kit of parts and a group of idea pages that support documenting and journaling for your travels, no matter where you go.

Tell us about your favorite design elements within the photo book style, Travel Snapshots, and how our customers can use them to tell their story.

I love the frame embellishments in this style and the subtle pieces of tape that hold photos on the page. These frames evoke a feeling of nostalgia in me every time I use them. They also add style to the pages without over complicating or theming them so emphasis stays on your photo, the most important element on the page! The handwritten type treatments that say things like “goofing off”, “breathtaking!”, and “exhausted!” are also fun ways to help support photos with text.


  1. Joey says

    Its very nice to meet you and learn more about you. I have heard of recently as a fellow guru uses it.
    I love the travel books/template that you hae designed. i haven’t done a full travel book, yet, but i have used the poloroid frame – i saw that in a book another guru did and was fascinated by it. i also love the tape embellishments and fun word fonts.
    Thanks for the great tip and article.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *