Michael Kay — Partner
I first learned about visual communication as a young photojournalist, but from working at a newspaper was drawn to graphic design. After a few years of producing and designing publications, including one of my own, along came the emergence of the Internet in the mid-1990's. The potential of web sites to communicate and innovate was too compelling to resist.
Eager to learn from experience and my talented peers, I cut my teeth at companies which broke a lot ground in defining this new medium. As a staff member at Hotwired (of Wired magazine), CondeNet, and Phoenix-Pop I saw how critical my common-sense approach was to this medium. The approach of creating stuff that puts the audience (users) first, to give them something of value, no matter what the day's trend brings. Since then, I have integrated the more formal practices of Usability and Information Architecture into everything I do.
After growing within these organizations, it was time to set out on my own, designing and building Web-based solutions for small to medium businesses and organizations. Recently I have joined forces with Dyske Suematsu, who has been a close friend since the days when we were roommates while studying at the School of Visual Arts in New York. We have always maintained a connection, sharing what we have discovered from our distinct perspectives.
In late 2006, I moved from New York City to Buenos Aires, Argentina. Though just a few years ago, at the time it was not common to be so far away geographically from one's clients. However, it worked out, even better than I had imagined, and since then I have developed strong working relationships with clients and colleagues in many places (a few of whom I have never even met face-to-face).
The cultural contrasts of having a presence in two countries informs the work I do both professionally and creatively, and I now also work with some clients over here in the southern hemisphere. Although physically 5000 miles apart, Dyske and I have collaborated with great success on both complex and simple projects; and today I see plenty of other people working at a distance.
Manny Kivowitz — Partner
I was that kid – the AV geek who took pride in running the film projector at school assemblies, volunteering for the AV department so I could get my hands on “professional” video equipment and becoming a yearbook photographer after acquiring my first SLR camera at age 14. I simply loved capturing and telling stories through film and video and have been pursuing this passion ever since. I’m still that kid today, just a lot more experienced.
My first industry break was an opportunity to work for an up and coming commercial director in 1985, followed by a series of gigs working for photographers, commercial production companies and corporate communication groups. I was on a roll. Before long I felt confident enough to take a shot at setting up my own shop, KSK:STUDIOS, it’s still running today.
KSK was a simple start up, myself, a state of the art broadcast camera package and a short client list. Over the years, the company grew and I shifted my focus from being a director of photography to developing my budding skills producing and directing, “real people” interviews became a specialty.
The company grew and a talented team of people including Dyske Suematsu joined KSK, helping build it into a full service, cross platform, production company. We built a reputation for tackling challenging projects, an ability to effectively communicate complex ideas and for maintaining high aesthetic standards on every job.
I’ve worked with a broad mix of clients including top names from Madison Avenue, Wall Street and Main Street and I’ve co-developed and produced original content projects including; a 17 episode series for MTVN’s VH1 & Logo networks titled “Can’t Get a Date”, a children’s creative movement series titled “Move ‘N Groove Kids” and a wide variety of web based projects together with Dyske Suematsu.
Today, I’m focused on working more intimately on communication projects with clients both large and small, a feat that requires me to operate on a simpler level. Less overhead management has meant more time to focus on the project and allows more time to be creative. Joining Cycle extends my ability to confidently offer top tier design services to my clients knowing that they will receive the attention they deserve and the quality they expect.
Dyske Suematsu — Partner
Growing up in Japan, I was always jealous of the English alphabet. It is ironic that Japan, a culture known for its simplicity, has such a visually complex language. I dreamed of using only English, and not having to worry about memorizing a seemingly infinite number of characters in Japanese. That dream came true when I moved to the US through an exchange program to attend high school in California. After a year, I loved it so much that I decided to stay in the States indefinitely.
After two years of high school, I moved to New York City to attend the School of Visual Arts from January 1987 to June 1990, and received a BFA in Fine Arts. Since my primary focus in college was conceptual art, I worked in a variety of mediums, including drawing, painting, sculpture, video, computer programming, photography, printmaking, and performance.
At night, I attended The Juilliard School of Music from September 1988 to June 1990 to study history and theory of music, as well as analysis of modern compositions. During the summer of 1989, I also attended Mannes School of Music to study orchestration and ear-training.
After graduation, I wanted to experience something entirely different from the art world, so I got a job on Wall Street. I sat next to traders on trading floors, creating custom pricing applications for so-called “Interest Rate Derivatives.”
Then came the Dotcom boom. I quickly left Wall Street and worked for a few small Dotcom companies as programmer and designer. In 1997, I met Manny Kivowitz, the principal of KSK:STUDIOS which at the time was a commercial and video production company. Desktop computers were just becoming capable of handling motion graphics for video, so I took the opportunity to develop it as a business with Manny. I worked with him on a freelance basis until 2001. Then I decided to join KSK:STUDIOS as creative director, overseeing several designers. Since then KSK has built its reputation for seamlessly fusing quality graphic design with film and video production, and for building websites that integrate high aesthetics and functionality.
In 2004, I decided to leave KSK to start my own business. I felt it was a good time in my life to do so, and so far so good.