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99U Conference

Kyle T. Webster: Build a Community, Not Just a Portfolio

How do you stand out in an increasingly tech-driven world? Seek out opportunities to build meaningful, human connections.

When we set the theme for our 2019 conference — The Creative Future — we imagined a future where creative skills are more pervasive and prized, and how that might reshape the world around us. As we prepare for the event in May, we’re asking our speakers to share a skill they think is important for all creatives to navigate what’s to come.


An unrivaled innovator in the digital art and illustration world, Adobe Design Evangelist Kyle T. Webster is best known as the founder of, whose Photoshop brushes have been used by professionals at Disney, Pixar, Dreamworks, and Weta Digital. Kyle will be speaking at the 11th Annual 99U Conference taking place May 8-10 in New York City.

Q. What’s a skill that you believe will be futureproof?

A. The art of conversation. No matter how much we fill our time consuming content delivered via technology, we will always long for meaningful human interaction.

Q. What makes you believe in the power of conversation?

A. There is an abundance of goodwill in our community, but it is not easily accessible if we do not connect with one another on a deeper level than a portfolio review. I had the great opportunity to teach a two-week digital painting course in Berlin in 2015. It was one of the most delightful experiences of my life. And how did it come about? Because I went to the American Illustration book release party in NYC and had a wonderful, hour-long conversation with a fellow illustrator who ran the painting course. He had been looking for somebody to teach it with him. Sure, I was qualified to teach it, but so were hundreds of other artists. By putting myself in a position to meet other people, enjoy some conversation, and make a real human connection, this opportunity came to me. Once I had a chance to prove myself, I made the most of it, but I truly believe this chance existed because I had a pleasant conversation and made a good impression on a fellow human being. I am not discounting the importance of doing good work, but what has kept me advancing in my field is the ability to build genuine friendships with members of my community.

Q. What advice would you give to anyone looking to cultivate that skill or characteristic?

A. The world is waiting—get out there. Find people who share your interests and spend quality time with them building meaningful, lasting relationships.


Hear from Kyle T. Webster and more creatives shaping the future at the 11th Annual 99U Conference, May 8-10, 2019 in New York City.

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