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Living in Tasmania stories

Art app wows the world

Edition 150 James Cuda Savage Interactive

One product – a professional art-studio app made exclusively for iPad – has rewarded a bold business gamble and created a global reputation for Hobart-based Savage Interactive.

Procreate offers the most complete software ever devised for digital artwork on iPad and it has won a coveted Apple Design Award (ADA) for its technical, aesthetic, and creative excellence.

“An ADA is kinda like an Oscar in the industry,” Savage Interactive co-founder, James Cuda, said.

“We always used to salivate at the idea of winning one, knowing most people don’t.

“I think only two Australian companies have ever won an ADA.

“They only give out six to 12 a year globally, to the best of the best.”

Procreate has persuaded many artists around the world that the iPad is not only a viable artistic tool, but also proved that tablet computing is absolutely suited for content creation.

“Artists love the expressive power that Procreate provides, extending their existing skills and knowledge into the limitless creativity offered by a comprehensive digital toolbox,” Mr Cuda, said.

One Geek-speaking on-line reviewer wrote: “It’s packed with features that artists love – from true-to-life sets of pencils, inks, and brushes, to advanced layer compositing, to unique digital tools.

“Procreate is a powerhouse of iOS technologies like ARC, Grand Central Dispatch, and OpenGL ES which deliver state-of-the-art performance and responsiveness, 64-bit precision, and smooth 60 fps rendering of canvas sizes up to 4K x 4K.”

Procreate operates comfortably with Photoshop, Twitter, Facebook, Weibo, iTunes, Mail, Photos, and Dropbox.

The package uses Core Bluetooth to connect to accessories such as styluses and is offered as a single price which entitles users to on-going updates.

“Winning an Apple Design Award was a pretty good endorsement and we’re extremely proud of it,” Mr Cuda said.

“It’s a reflection of the heart and brain that has gone – and continues to go – into every aspect of Procreate.”

Now, the eight-person Tasmanian team is planning to launch a new version in the coming months and is also working on a major campaign in a new language market.

Savage Interactive is a spin-off of a successful Hobart brand business, Savage Media, whose key people became disillusioned with “just kinda churning out work and trying to meet deadlines.”

Mr Cuda explained: “When we saw the iPhone we recognised it as a massive step in technology. It just made so much sense. It’s about genius instead of buttons and hardware and stuff.”

Mr Cuda and lead programmer Lloyd Bottomley decided in a coffee shop conversation that iPhone software was something they really needed to pursue.

When they took the idea to the rest of the team, there was unanimous agreement that iPhone software was exactly the space that would align with their strong passion for quality product design.

“But we didn’t do it,” Mr Cuda recalls. “We just went back upstairs and sat down at our desk and continued meeting client deadlines.”

Several years later when Apple launched its iPad, they were ready.

“We thought, we just can’t muck around; we can’t just let life dictate to us,” Mr Cuda said.

Within eight hours a decision was made to close Savage Media and chase the dream.

“It was a pretty traumatic and crazy couple of days, but it was something we knew we had to do.

“If we didn’t jump at that moment we knew we would just get stuck,” Mr Cuda said.

“We closed the office in Murray Street and we moved to a bedroom in my home at Old Beach where we worked to produce Procreate.”

The reduced Savage team – soon to be badged as Savage Interactive – checked out existing apps for iPad and decided, correctly, that they were capable of doing better.

Now they have customers all around the world … and a very different way of working.

“Our major partner is really Apple,” Mr Cuda said. “There are some other partners that we have such as Stylus Makers, but our major partner is Apple.

“What we do [is] generate our own intellectual property and we sell it to a global audience.”

And the Savage team’s international perspective fits perfectly with their Tasmanian location.

“When we started seeing some success, a lot of people said you need to go to Silicon Valley,” Mr Cuda said.

“We kinda got turned off [from the idea] because Tasmania is just an exceptionally special place in the world.

“I have a young family and so that was a big part of my thinking … and the same with a lot of guys here.

“We are new parents and where we are really impacts on who we are; and so The Valley was, really, the antithesis of what we wanted to be.

“We did not want to be schmoozing around in bars trying to impress venture capitalists, instead we wanted to have a great life and make the best products we possibly can.

“Tasmania is really conducive to that … so we have made a very conscious decision to stay here.”

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10 June 2014, Edition 150

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Facts about Tasmania


Tasmania is the southernmost state of Australia, located at latitude 40° south and longitude 144° east and separated from the continent by Bass Strait. It is a group of 334 islands, with the main island being 315 km (180 miles) from west to east and 286 km (175 miles) north to south.


Tasmanians are resourceful and innovative people, committed to a continually expanding export sector. In 2012–13, international exports from the state totalled $3.04 billion. USA, China, Taiwan, India, Japan and other Asian countries account for the bulk of exports, with goods and services also exported to Europe and many other regions.


Tasmania is similar in size to the Republic of Ireland or Sri Lanka. The Tasmanian islands have a combined coastline of more than 3,000 km.


The main island has a land area of 62,409 sq km (24,096 sq miles) and the minor islands, taken together, total only 6 per cent of the main island’s land area. The biggest islands are Flinders (1,374 sq km/539 sq miles), King, Cape Barren, Bruny and Macquarie Islands.


About 250km (150 miles) separates Tasmania’s main island from continental Australia. The Kent Group of Islands, one of the most northerly parts of the state, is only 55km (34 miles) from the coast of the Australian continent.


Twice named ‘Best Temperate Island in the World’ by international travel magazine Conde Nast Traveler, Tasmania has a mild, temperate maritime climate, with four distinct seasons.


In summer (December to February) the average maximum temperature is 21° Celsius (70° Fahrenheit). In winter (June to August) the average maximum is 12° C (52° F) and the average minimum is 4° C (40° F). Snow often falls in the highlands, but is rarely experienced in more settled areas.

Annual Rainfall

Tasmania’s west coast is one of the wettest places in the world, but the eastern part of the State lives in a rain-shadow. Hobart, the second-driest capital city in Australia, receives about half as much rain as Sydney.

Annual Rainfall

Annual rainfall in the west is 2,400 mm (95 inches), but hardy locals insist there is no such thing as bad weather, only inadequate clothing. If you travel 120 km east to Hobart, you experience a much drier average of 626 mm (24 inches) a year.


The 512,875-strong community spreads itself across the land; less urbanised than the population of any other Australian state. Hobart, the capital city, is home to more than 212,000 people.

Capital City

Hobart nestles at the foot of kunanyi / Mount Wellington (1,270 m / 4,000 ft) and overlooks the Derwent Estuary, where pods of dolphins and migrating whales are sometimes seen from nearby beaches. Surrounded by thickly forested rolling hills, the city is home to the state parliament and the main campus of the University of Tasmania.

Capital City

Its historic centre features Georgian and Regency buildings from colonial times. Hobart is home port for coastal fishing boats, Antarctic expeditions and vessels that fish the Southern Ocean.

Land Formation

Mountain ranges in the south-west date back 1,000 million years. Ancient sediments were deeply buried, folded and heated under enormous pressure to form schists and glistening white quartzites.

Land Formation

In the south-west and central highlands, dolerite caps many mountains, including Precipitous Bluff and Tasmania’s highest peak, Mt Ossa (1617 m / 5300 ft). More than 42 per cent of Tasmania is World Heritage Area, national park and marine or forest reserves.


Vegetation is diverse, from alpine heathlands and tall open eucalypt forests to areas of temperate rainforests and moorlands, known as buttongrass plains. Many plants are unique to Tasmania and the ancestors of some species grew on the ancient super-continent, Gondwana, before it broke up 50 million years ago.


Unique native conifers include slow-growing Huon pines, with one specimen on Mt Read estimated to be up to 10,000 years old. Lomatia tasmanica, commonly known as King’s holly, is a self-cloning shrub that may well be the oldest living organism on earth. It was discovered in 1937.


Tasmania is the last refuge of several mammals that once roamed the Australian continent. It is the only place to see a Tasmanian devil or eastern quoll (native cat) in the wild and is the best place to see the spotted-tailed quoll (tiger cat), all carnivorous marsupials.


The eastern bettong and the Tasmanian pademelon, both now extinct on the Australian continent, may also be observed.


The Tasmanian tiger, or thylacine, was Australia’s largest surviving carnivorous marsupial and is a modern day mystery. The last documented thylacine died in captivity in 1936 and although the animal is considered extinct, unsubstantiated sightings persist.

History and Heritage

Aboriginal people have lived in Tasmania for about 35,000 years, since well before the last Ice Age. They were isolated from the Australian continent about 12,000 years ago, when the seas rose to flood low coastal plains and form Bass Strait.

History and Heritage

Descendants of the original people are part of modern Tasmania’s predominantly Anglo-Celtic population.

History and Heritage

Tasmania was originally named Van Dieman’s Land by the Dutch explorer Abel Janszoon Tasman in 1642. The island was settled by the British as a penal colony in 1803 and the original name was associated with the convict era. It was changed to Tasmania when convict transportation stopped in 1853.


A resourceful island culture has generated leading-edge niche industries, from production of high-speed catamaran ferries and marine equipment to lightning-protection technology.


Tasmanians produce winches and windlasses for some of the world’s biggest ocean-going pleasure craft; large-scale inflatable evacuation systems and provide specialist outfit-accommodation services to the marine industry.


The Wooden Boat Centre at Shipwrights Point has re-established the skills and traditions of another age and attracts students from around the world.


Tasmania is a world leader in natural turf systems for major sporting arenas and in areas of mining technology and environmental management. Its aquaculture industry has developed ground-breaking fish-feeding technology and new packaging.


Tasmanians sell communications equipment to many navies and their world-class fine timber designers and craftsmen take orders internationally for furniture made from distinctive local timber.


The state is a natural larder with clean air, unpolluted water and rich soils inviting the production of 100 varieties of specialty cheeses, as well as other dairy products, mouth-watering rock lobsters, oysters, scallops and abalone, Atlantic salmon, beef, premium beers, leatherwood honey, mineral waters, fine chocolates, fresh berry fruits, apples and crisp vegetables.


Tasmania is a producer of award-winning cool-climate wines, beers, ciders and whiskies. Other export products include essential oils such as lavender, pharmaceutical products and premium wool sought after in Europe and Asia. Hobart is a vital gateway to the Antarctic and a centre for Southern Ocean and polar research.


The industries in Tasmania which made the greatest contribution to the State’s gross product in 2010–11 in volume terms were: Manufacturing (9.4%), Health care and social assistance (8.2%), Financial and insurance services (7.2%), Ownership of dwellings and Agriculture, forestry and fishing (each 7.1%).

Getting to Tasmania

Travel is easy, whether by air from Sydney or Melbourne, or by sea, with daily sailings of the twin ferries Spirit of Tasmania 1 and 2 each way between Melbourne and Devonport throughout the year.

This site has been produced by the Brand Tasmania Council © 2014

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