0 comments | Posted: 30 November 09 in Interviews, by Nathan Smith
The following is an interview with Kyle Steed, a local designer from the Dallas area, with a varied background: from design, to military service, and back again. You may know him from his involvement in Chat Creative, good humored design feuds with Chris Wallace, or maybe even his day job working at Wave Two.
I asked him to share his thoughts on design, pursuing a formal education, defending one’s faith, and where he sees himself heading in the future…
How did you get your start in design? Were you always artistically inclined, or is it something that you sort of grew into?
We are all born with an inherent gift, such as: music, writing, teaching, or leadership. For me, it was drawing. I spent most of my time in school drawing or doodling in my notebooks. I also loved drawing elaborate house plans. Later in high school I would get my first experiences with painting, collage and Photoshop – the latter being the one that really intrigued me.
I remember sitting and watching a guy named Casey Price make digital collage images in Photoshop and being blown away with the endless possibilities you could create. After high school I moved to Texas. In 2001, I purchased my very first Mac, a Quicksilver G4 Power Mac, which still runs to this day. This was the beginning of my learning career as a designer.
Prior to becoming a designer, you served in the US military. Would you mind sharing a bit about your tour of duty, and what got you through those tough times? While deployed, what ways did you find as an outlet for your creativity?
My Air Force career lasted from 2003-2007. At the time I signed up, I had been working a dead-end job for about a year, wasn’t going to school, and was living at home. I was 21. But I knew God had bigger and greater plans for me. I just didn’t expect the military to be part of them!
Reflecting back on my time of service, I always like to say that basic training was the best time. I’m not sure if it was the immense seclusion from all worldly possessions or what, but I felt very close to God during that six-week period.
Right after basic training down in San Antonio, TX I was shipped off to southern Arizona for six months of grueling training. Going in to it, I was really optimistic, but living in the desert for six months surrounded by negativity starts to wear on you. I felt more alone than I ever had before. I spent countless hours writing, praying, crying out for God in my journals, wondering where he was and why I was there. It really stretched my faith, but all hope was not lost. I still have fond memories of that place and some of the people I met there.
After Arizona, I was shipped to Florida with eager expectations that things would get better. Even though the weather was warmer and the smell of ocean water in the air made for a pleasant change in scenery, the struggle to find good fellowship was hard. I spent three months in Pensacola, focused on getting through school so I could get home for a few weeks before heading to Japan.
When I arrived in Japan on August 19, 2004 I had a strange feeling. Similar to the feeling you get when you visit a new place you’ve never been before, but this new place was 8,000 miles away from home. I could go in to great detail about the next three years, but I’ll try to be brief. The first year in Japan was a time of exploration and heartache. Exploratory, because my friends and I would take day trips up to the mountains and go eat strange Japanese food out in the local town.
Yet there was heartache because I was so far from home and in a relationship with a girl that didn’t work out. Things began to turn around for me after I met my wife. She gave me hope and something to look forward to each day. The last year and a half we spent together in Japan have made some of the best memories.
I was able to find a few creative outlets while in Japan, most of which were tied to my relationship with my wife (we were still dating at the time). We would sent letters back and forth. For my birthday, she bought us a scrapbook. I was able to invest a lot of creative energy into that. I also enjoyed taking lots of pictures while in Japan. Near the end of my time there, I began to paint again.
You recently designed your own hand-drawn vector font, self-titled Steed. Tell me a bit about how this came about. What inspired the letterforms?
I’ve always been a fan of making things by hand. During the months I was brainstorming over my new site design, I was on the hunt to find the perfect font for my name. Well, nothing ever felt right. One day at work I was experimenting with my name in my journal using different fonts, and I decided to scan and illustrate them. Next thing I knew, I’m sketching out the entire alphabet in my journal, and illustrating them by hand – Grid paper saves lives. The whole process took me about four days total to complete.
I still have plans to release the alphanumeric characters as well. Maybe someday I’ll get around to actually making it a usable font, instead of just vectors.
Earlier this year, you wrestled with the decision to use the G.I. Bill to attend college and major in a design related field. Considering the fact that you are already employed as a designer, what spurred this decision? This is particularly interesting to me, because I am self-taught, and therefore maintain a healthy sense of inadequacy when it comes to design.
My decision to go back to school wasn’t an easy one, and one I’m still not 100% sure about. My soul often wrestles with the knowledge that, in the grand scheme of things, a college degree is worthless. On the other hand, it can only help me. If I were to be honest, college is an institution put in place to help make people feel good about themselves and feel like they’ve accomplished something. I feel the same way about the military, but I know there are some who truly want to serve their country. I digress. Yes, I am slowly going back to school for design.
I think studying design principles and methods will benefit me far greater than a degree in web design, or the dreaded “new media” design. I really hate the term new media. For one, I can learn and grow more on my own in web design than I ever could in a classroom. Not that I’m going back to school to learn how to design things, but to better refine my skill and improve upon what I already know.
Without setting up a straw-man as a talking point, for those of us with an ear to the ground related to web design, it has become apparent there are several prominent industry professionals who are somewhat antagonistic when it comes to matters of faith. What, if any, do you think is the appropriate way to respectfully disagree on this sensitive topic?
I think Jesus said it best:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?” – Matthew 5:43-47
Not that I consider these “antagonistic” people my enemies, but I think it shows how important it is that we are to love those people around us.
Lastly, would you please share how you personally came to faith in Christ, and what that has meant to you in the various capacities you have served.
The seed was planted early, via my mom taking my brother and I to church every Sunday. Yet, I don’t consider this to be when I first came to know Jesus Christ. Sure, I had prayed to receive Jesus as my Lord and Savior when I was a kid, but it never really affected my life. I spent my childhood and teen years very selfishly – always about me. When I moved to Texas after high school, I met some good friends that had a passion for the Lord, something I had never seen before. They talked about how good and awesome God is. It was addictive. Over the next few years I began to understand what it means to walk in relationship with Jesus.
Through that time I struggled with doubt and finding my identity, something all people in their twenties go through. This resulted in a life full of hope, faith, and lots (and lots) of grace. The love of my Heavenly Father is expanding in my heart every single day, affecting all areas of my life. I am blessed to have found a wonderful group of Christian designers in whom I can confide, invest, and pray with. I am beginning to see that this “job” isn’t just a job at all, but more of an opportunity to serve God and love people.
Thanks for the opportunity to do this interview.
Discuss This Topic
Comments closed after 2 weeks.