Living in Tasmania stories
Art app wows the world
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.”
10 June 2014, Edition 150