A native of Los Angeles, California, Curtis Steele received his B.F.A. in 1974 in Graphic Design from the California College of the Arts in Oakland. After working for producers of audio-visual educational programs, he continued his education at California State University, Chico, where he received his M.A. in Art in 1976, concentrating in photographic printmaking techniques. In 1977 Steele worked as the Graphic Designer and Photographer for the community outreach program at Butte College in Oroville, California.
Steele joined the Department of Art faculty at Arkansas State University, Jonesboro, in 1978. In 1983 he received his M.F.A. in Art from the University of Memphis, again with the concentration in photographic printmaking techniques. Steele retired after 38 years at Arkansas State University. He held the rank of Professor of Art, and was Chair of the Department of Art+Design. He taught courses in graphic design, illustration and photography. Steele now devotes his time to photography and digital drawing.