kyle steed

Wallace vs Steed

Wallace, I accept your challenge!

The Details

In this design-off, we will select a verse from the Bible from the book of Romans. Then based off each verse, we will each design a t-shirt concept for We will have one week to design our shirts and one week of voting to determine (me) the winner.

Smack Talk

Chris, we all know you're a great guy with a good heart, but let's face it, you still use a pc. Don't go thinking just cause you got yourself a fancy new iMac that changes anything, I know you're still running Windows 7 on it. Plus, I'm not so sure about that whole shower thing, when I came and visited you I only remember you taking a shower once, and I saw no evidence of deodorant.

In the immortal words of The Doors: "The Time To Hesitate is Through".

Defending Your Offense

I am not a huge sports fan, but I love the spirit of camaraderie that is found in a team. It's the need to accomplish something greater than ourselves that drives us to work hard. But sometimes all we see is the negative side of our work, and that really stunts our growth as designers. So what do I mean by "defending your offense"?

1. Know your strengths, but more importantly your weaknesses.

This past weekend as I sat on the sidelines at my wife's roller derby game, I couldn't help but notice how poor their defense was against the other team. Now granted they were playing last years undefeated team, there were still major holes in their strategy. But I didn't connect the dots as to how this relates to us as designers until I watched Joel Beukelman's new video blog, equality for brand and logos alike.

If we are really strong at creating logos, graphics or websites (our offense) and are weak at getting feedback, networking or speaking to clients (defense), then we will almost always end up with just a good (not great) product. And isn't something worth doing, worth doing well? A good way to examine what your strengths and weaknesses are is to make a list for yourself. Here is an example of a list I made.

Defense Offense Strategy

Defense Rating Scale

I know for me it helps to put stuff like this down on paper so I can visualize what I need to work on. If I didn't do this I would just toss the information around in my brain until I became too tired of thinking about it that I would forget. But now I've accomplished two goals; 1. Get my thoughts on paper and 2. Clear up space in my head for more important matters.

2. We need to take the time to build a strategy for success.

Making a list, and actually going by it, will help build a solid foundation for our success. Remember that it's hard to know where we're going if we don't know how to get there. And while it may be difficult to admit our weaknesses, because I know we're all perfect, it will help us create a "game plan" as to how we can improve upon them.

But lists are just the beginning. Getting it down on paper shouldn't be the stopping point. We need to put our words in to action. And that is the best part about this whole thing, we will each have a different plan of action that is unique to our situation. For me, I landed my current job a year and a half ago with just a small amount of knowledge about the web mixed with a willingness to learn, and now I am able to create fully customizable websites in more than one language and style it all up with some sexy css. But this is just the beginning for me. I am by no means close to the top of my game. But I'm here, I'm working at it and I'm loving the challenge.

If you are doing something that isn't fulfilling you, start doing what you love. Do it whenever you can. Paint in the evenings. Wake up an hour early and write in a journal. Stop wishing you had your camera by your side, and take it with you everywhere you go. Just stop wishing you could do more, and actually do it. There is plenty of time in a day to be creative.

3. We need to embrace, and participate, in the community around us.

Social networking has really re-defined what it means to network. I know that may sound redundant, but we are no longer limited to our local design meetups (even though I highly encourage you to do so). The major players like Twitter and Facebook are at our disposal. We are only limited by our imagination as to how we use them.

Twitter adds a whole new depth-of-field that never really existed before. Even though we are limited by 140 characters, it forces us to refine our message and say what really matters. This opposed to other new networks like tumblr or posterous (which are great) that act more like micro-blogs, and then you might as well just post on your blog anyways. But before I get off on a huge tangent, Twitter (when used effectively) is able to expand your network faster than any other service.

But don't get caught up in the hype of trying to outperform everyone around you. There will always be those people who are smarter, faster and stronger. We need to focus on our strategy and play to our strengths... and weaknesses. I like to think of what the tortoise said, "Slow and steady wins the race".

Happy Birthday To Me

Today is a special birthday vlog. This week has been crazy busy, with my Mom being in town and all. But I wanted to share a few things that have really struck me recently.

1. Yesterday I watched this clip of Gary Vaynerchuk at the 2008 Web Expo where he talks about doing what we love, and forgetting the rest. Not necessarily that we quit our day jobs, but that in our spare time we really dig deep in to what we our passionate about. And if we can turn our passion in to profit then that's even better.

I have a huge amount of respect for every single freelance/independent designer out there who is making a living. They are the ones pouring their hearts in to projects that they love, not projects for some other company or organization. One day I will cross that threshold, but for now I am going to kill it in my spare time.

2. Tinychat is blowing up. I've been on it at least 3-4 times over the last week, and it's a great way to put a face with the name of the people you talk to on twitter. I've had some great conversation already, but I'm really excited to explore the possibilities it offers us.

Earlier this morning I had a chat with fellow artist and twitterer Brad Colbow about his work. I've been following him on twitter and on his website for quite a while now, but tinychat allows us to break the visual barrier and meet semi face-to-face. While we were talking he showed me a board game he designed for his daughter last christmas called Soapy the kitty game. Brad is seriously talented.

Finally, I have to say I'm extremely grateful for Garth Humbert throwing a few projects my way. I met Garth through Aaron Irizarry and have to say he is another talented, freaking awesome guy I have met via twitter. I am really looking forward to collaborating with him on these couple of projects and whatever is to come in the future.

Here is a sneak peak snapshot of me sketching away on one of the projects. (via @charleswilliams)

Thanks everyone.

p.s. - If you haven't heard already, Squarespace is giving away 30 iPhones in 30 days. Genius marketing scheme? Or the end of twitter? Either way I want one.

People Not Popularity

I'm back with my second video blog, thanks again to all of you who left a comment, critique or other piece of advice. I value what you have to say and it's helping me get better at this.

Today I wanted to talk about relationships, and how important they are in the realm of social networking. Regardless of how many followers I have on Twitter, because sometimes it can be overwhelming, I am glad to have a group of people to really invest in. And that's what I think we should focus on, people not popularity.

Other links to check out

Why I never want to be an expert by Seth Simonds Who Do You Know? (Part II) by Nate St. Pierre

Vlog #01

Here in my first "official" video blog I talk about the design community and give some shout outs to a few people worth mentioning. I recorded this last night in bed, armed with just a few notes on what I wanted to talk about and my sleepy dogs for comfort.

This is part of a process where I'm learning things don't have to be perfect in order to be posted. So please, I would love to hear any and all comments (so long as they're constructive) and any tips to making it better. Hopefully this will become a regular part of my blog.

Links Mentioned

Brandon Muth - on twitter @brandonmuth Matt Simo - on twitter @m_a_simo Joseph Allen Kohlhas - on twitter @joseph_allen Designer(d) Advice from Joseph Allen Kohlhas Arcade theme and free wallpapers at From-The-Couch

our space

Kyle and Amanda Steed

This is a story ahead of it's time where a man meets and marries a woman he met on myspace.

I arrived in Japan August 19, 2004, exactly one year after entering the Air Force. I had no idea the many trials and triumphs that awaited me. One thing was for sure though, I had a very strong unfamiliar feeling when I first arrived.

That first winter was the coldest, harshest winter I've ever experienced. And not just because of the weather, but because of a recent break-up. I had fallen for a girl, bad, and she tore my heart in two. I felt more alone and hopeless than ever before with no one that could help me. It was my darkest hour. Then to make matters worse I had to travel 4 hours south to Yokota, alone, to have an operation done on my ear. This was December 2004.

Being alone those 2 weeks for my operation just about drove me crazy. My mind was on a dangerous emotional roller coaster. I called and called (and called) my ex-girlfriend and even at one point became so enamored with jealousy that I called one of her friends asking "why hasn't she called me, is she with another guy?" I know, I was unstable at best. Even today, almost three years later, I look back at those feelings and wonder how I ever got to that point.

Yet, there was a silver lining to the dark clouds surrounding me. In the hotel I was staying in they had a small internet cafe. I made myself right at home checking my email and curiously navigating around this new site called MySpace. It was great, I had never seen anything like it. I could search millions of people all over the world who had the same interest as me. And then it happened, as I was filtering search results based on the college I had attended before the military I found her, Amanda Lindsey. I didn't know her, had never seen her before, but her profile picture jumped out at me and I felt something familiar. The first contact was made.

Jan 2, 2005 5:47 AM

"I spend too much time on the internet, not enough time with God, and entirely too much time doing things I shouldn't be doing."

Hello, you don't know me, but I like looking for people I might have known before I moved away. Sorry if this sounds weird, or creeps you out, I'm not like that, but I saw what you had to say and totally could relate, especially to the forementioned quote. I hope you find some time in your day today to spend a little more time with God, I know I need to. But in whatever you're doing, may God bless it.

-Kyle Steed

With my ear still in tact and a new spark of hope I returned north to Misawa, my home in Japan. Even with a huge hole in my heart I had found a new friend that understood my pain. Amanda had also just come out of a long-term relationship and was able to relate to my situation. It was nice to be able to express my inner pain to her and have her respond with understanding and care. (Unlike like my ex, who deemed my emotions as weakness.) I poured myself, writing paragraph after paragraph, in to emails about my life and faith and likes and dislikes to Amanda. I kept waiting for her to block me or tell me to get lost, but she just came right back putting her heart out there. Even from the very beginning she respected me.

From that point forward our relationship only grew stronger. Even with a 14 hour time difference between us, we learned to adapt and overcome. We eventually transitioned from strictly email-based communication to talking on instant messenger. And there was the occasional late night drunk chat. (Those were fun.) We didn't know it yet, but there was more than just a solid friendship being built. Every week that went by we became closer. My old wounds were slowly closing and my heart was beginning to warm next to hers. Then her letters came.

Seeing her words written by hand instead of glowing from the monitor in front of me really brought new life to our relationship. I would sometimes hold the paper to my nose in search of her scent. (I guess that's one of those animal instincts.) The letters were a special treat for both of us because we still spent most of our time talking online. But when we would get a letter it was like finding a hidden present under the tree at Christmas. My face would light up whenever I saw one of her envelopes in my mail box. There is something special about a handwritten letter. Maybe it's the sentimental value they hold. Or maybe it's the feel of the paper between your fingertips as you sit down to read what the other person wrote. The only way to feel any closer was to talk on the phone.

May 13, 2005 8:24 PM

I had butterfly's going on BIG TIME dialing your number. but I'm glad I did though.

It's still crazy that I actually spoke to you, like you were so close but still impossible to see.

Love, K

That first time I called Amanda she was asleep in the backseat of her friends car on the way to the beach for an all-girls weekend. But she had posted a bulletin to myspace before heading out that weekend with her phone number and a note that read "if you need to talk, call me on my cell." Now I don't know if she meant that for me or not, but I took it as the perfect excuse to call her. You see, I had been planning this call for a month or two and I thought I was going to wait until her birthday in August. I'm so glad I didn't. With each day that passed talking on the phone and writing letters our hearts were being knit together from 9,288 miles away.

There was no "magic" moment where I realized Amanda was who I was going to marry. It was more of a collage of all the events that had led up to that night on the phone where I asked her to marry me. The phone? Yep. Now I had never heard of, or imagined myself, asking the woman I loved to marry me over the phone either. But when you're separated by the entire Pacific Ocean and half the United States there isn't much you can do about it. And we knew the distance was only a temporary measure. Plus, God had brought us together so we knew we would make it. However, that still didn't change all the scrutiny we got from friends and family alike.

Of course I expected some people not to understand, i.e. - the guys I worked with in the military. They would always tell me that Amanda was going to be some fatty with 2 kids and a wooden leg. (Or something crazy like that.) I just ignored it. But when my Dad told me "how do you know she's not a con-artist that just wants to take your money" I couldn't help but laugh. And what money? I was in the military. But you have to understand that my Dad can be a bit extreme with his paranoia at times, he calls it being cautious, but I think he just needs to relax. He finally came around though after he and my step-mom met Amanda and her family for dinner one night. (I can't imagine how nerve racking that must have been meeting my family before she met me. What a Rock Star!) Even if they thought we were crazy, our families still supported us.

I flew home December 09, 2005 and we were married five days later at the County Courthouse. I don't think words can explain the relief we both felt when we first saw each other. All that weight of waiting for each other fell off the instant our eyes met. I still love to see peoples reactions when I tell them that we only spent time together, in person, for five days before we got married. Next month we will celebrate our three-year anniversary and it's been an amazing journey so far. My only hope is the next thirty years will be as great as these past three.

weekly update

In case you've been living under a rock or this is your first time here, you are now looking at the updated version of This past week I spent a great deal of time giving my site a much needed face-lift and sketching out the future of my presence on the web. The best part about this make-over is I finally combined the power of WordPress with my site, thanks to Chris over at CSS-Tricks for his helpful video tutorials. So now instead of arriving at a static page you will come here, but you can still see examples of my work, find out who I am and contact me by using the simple nav bar up top.

To give you a little inside look at what's in the future for me and this site I present you with a short unordered list:

  • improve the quality and creativity of each blog post
  • reach out to other designers, photographers and other creatives for interviews
  • publish a WordPress theme
  • eat more fruit

So there you have it, a quick update on the life of me, Kyle Steed. If you're interested in having your work displayed on my site with a brief interview please contact me and we can discuss the specifics. Otherwise, I hope you enjoy the new look and please subscribe to my feed for all updates and happenings going on at