Freckle News

Interview with a Freckle: Johnny Le

Johnny is the newest member of the Freckle team.   
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  After a few weeks of settling in, we thought we would sit down with him for an 'unterview', and get to know the person behind the CV.

Johnny is the newest member of the Freckle team. After a few weeks of settling in, we thought we would sit down with him for an 'unterview', and get to know the person behind the CV.

What do you tell people you do at awkward speed networking events?

I’m a visual communicator that specialises in branding, print and digital design who also knows my way around a camera. Outside of this, you’d probably find me on a bike, in a cafe or cooking in the kitchen.

Where were you before Freckle and why the change?

Before I started at Freckle, I worked as a designer within the property industry, creating branding and marketing collateral for property developers and small home builders. I also had a semi-illustrious career as a construction site photographer until I was replaced with a drone.

Sadly, the previous agency I worked at had to close down, but in a way it was a good opportunity to escape the property bubble and find out what else was out there in the world of design. The opportunity at Freckle was too good to pass up so I quickly jumped on it.

What are your greatest strengths and ‘quirknesses’?

I’m a naturally curious person who’s always looking for new and exciting things. I enjoy the experimenting in my design process, finding new approaches to create something unique. My quirkiness would have to be my absolute hate of velcro, it’s the nails on the blackboard for me.

Everyone has a good app idea, what's yours?

Sometimes I find myself in a “Ready, Steady Cook” situation at home, where I have a bunch of random ingredients and no idea what to make with them. My idea would be to enter those ingredients into the app, which would then come up with some recipes base off those ingredients. It’ll be a great way to save food and money. 

What could Freckle clients ask you about, that you could expertly talk about for three hours?

I could probably talk my head off for hours on the different types of paper stocks, print finishes and print production processes. I’m a big fan of tactility in design and how it can be used to create a deeper connection to a visual concept.

You're on death row, what's your last meal?

It would definitely be a bowl of ramen from a shop called Shin Shin in Fukuoka, Japan! I travelled an hour and a half on the Shinkansen to try it when I was travelling in Japan and it was the best I’ve ever had.

What will your ‘Freckfest’ talk be titled?

I’d call my Freckfast Talk “Connecting in a connected world”. In a world connected by social media, I’ve noticed that we’ve become distant in our face to face social interactions and have increasingly become socially isolated. So I want to explore ways we can get that face-to-face social interaction back.

Interview with a Freckle: Jacquie Synnott

Jacquie is the newest member of the Freckle team. Following her job interview and getting settled in, we thought we would sit down with her for an 'unterview', and get to know the person behind the CV.

Jacquie is the newest member of the Freckle team. Following her job interview and getting settled in, we thought we would sit down with her for an 'unterview', and get to know the person behind the CV.

What do you tell people you do at awkward speed networking events?

I manage the daily workflow between our designers and clients, ensuring all jobs are looked after and effectively run from start to finish. When I’m not doing this, I’m probably at home taking photos of my cat.

If you weren't at Freckle, where would you be?

Before Freckle I was working as a full time Graphic Designer at a large Australian architecture firm called Architectus; creating in-house visual communication pieces including HR campaigns and property marketing collateral.

During this time (and for some time before!), I wanted nothing more than to work in production management, at a small branding agency and focus on freelance graphic design projects in my spare time. When the opportunity at Freckle arose, I grabbed it!

What are your greatest strengths and ‘quirknesses’?

My strengths lie in the technical aspects of design. From creating technical drawings to technical spreadsheets… I enjoy the methodical process of design problem solving.

I also know my way around a table-top hand loom! All thanks to a bad flu and access to YouTube just over 3 years ago, I’m now a proficient hand weaver. I guess you could call this my greatest ‘quirkness’!

Who aren't you?

Out of all the things in life that I am not, I would have to say I am not the type of person who confuses purple for blue.

Where do you see yourself in 5 minutes?

Replying to 3 emails at the same time, whilst dreaming of dumplings for dinner.

... 5 days?

Planning a trip to South East Asia to make the dumplings a reality!

Are you a Mac or a PC? Dog or cat? Tea or coffee?

I am a cat sipping on a takeaway coffee in front of a MacBook, and I know many people who can vouch for this.

What could Freckle clients ask you about, that you could expertly talk about for three hours?

Around two years ago I worked at a creative production design studio in London specializing in the design and installation of retail window displays and pop-up shops. This is during the time when my love for production design blossomed. If a Freckle client was to ask me about the creative production involved in an event or retail space, spanning from signage to installation manuals to props, I would be able to chew their ear off on the topic! Firing off questions such as “Is it legible? Is that at eye level? Is it adjustable??” so on and so forth…

What will your ‘Freckfest’ talk be titled?

With all the construction and general development happening in Sydney as of late, I’ve become extremely interested in urban design within big cities. I think I would base my Freckfest talk on a great book I’m reading called Happy City by Charles Montgomery. This isn’t set in stone though; you’ll have to wait to find out!

Have you got good guts?


Four years ago, a life-changing event set Fiona on a path of discovery which she shared with us all at our latest Freckfast.

How many times have you made a New Year’s resolution to eat healthy? I know I have, but often my good intentions have fallen by the wayside. Four years ago, though, something happened to change all that. I was placed in the isolation ward at Royal Prince Alfred hospital for a week followed by five months recovery at home. Six months after my hospital stay, I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. This life-changing event motivated me to set out on a journey to assist with my medical management. I did extensive research; I was looking for a diet to heal, stabilise and recover.

There’s a lot of conflicting information out there but, for me, the big find was GUT HEALTH. Guts are amazing! They are core to our health and wellbeing, influencing everything from the function of our immune system to mental health and energy levels. Did you know that your gut is home to some 1000 different types of bacteria and serves as your number one defence against all disease? Like I said, amazing!

I discovered that all sorts of conditions can be due to a leaky or bad gut: gas,  bloating, IBS, food intolerances, seasonal allergies, regular infections, colds and flu, chronic fatigue, depression, anxiety, eczema… the list goes on. More often than not, food is to blame. Excessive consumption of many things like alcohol, caffeine, sugar, gluten, dairy (from cow’s milk) and processed foods can alter your gut flora triggering chronic inflammation. I used to think of inflammation as the swelling and pain caused by arthritis or a sprained ankle. I now know that it is an underlying cause of some of the world’s major health problems and chronic diseases, multiple sclerosis being one of them.

So, what can you do to beat inflammation? A good way to start is by trying to maintain a healthy pH within your body by eating more alkaline foods. This doesn’t have to mean huge changes to your diet. Something simple like adding lemon to your water every morning can make a big difference. It’s one of the many tips in the book Love Your Gut by Sally Joseph (a good friend of our Director Tiff!). Sally’s book also contains recipes and a 2-week restart programme. I highly recommend it.

With so much information about the best diet to follow splashed across our screens, it can be difficult to make a choice. On the Daily Mail website, there seems to be a different article about diet and health every day. One day we are encouraged to eat meat, but the next day it is all about salmon. Then we are told to eat oily fish for glossy hair, sweet potatoes for healthy skin, kale to boost collagen. Paleo, Raw, Atkins, Ketogenic… there’s no end to it.

My preferred option has to be the Mediterranean diet, and this is not just because I am married to one spunky Sardinian! Although, Sardinia just so happens to have one of the highest populations of centenarians in the world… No, I like the Mediterranean diet because it is a really easy food plan to follow, plus it’s totally delicious! I include lots of olive oil along with plant-based foods, fresh fruits, beans, nuts and whole grains. The diet also comprises fish, poultry, eggs and a small amount of red meat. And – wait for the best part – WINE!  Everything in moderation 😉

I believe that making important changes to my diet has really helped me manage my MS symptoms. And I think eating well can make a difference to everyone. In Australia, obesity has doubled in the past 30 years. We’re now officially ranked as one of the fattest nations in the developed world. Beyond the individual health risks and quality of life associated with obesity, take a look at the huge economic burden it generates (financials are, after all, my area of specialisation!) In 2008, the Australian Bureau of Statistics estimated the total annual cost of loss of productivity and carers’ costs due to obesity to be around $58 billion. Whatever happened to everything in moderation?    

So, time for change. Will it be easy? Nope. Worth it? Absolutely!

Fiona cracks us up at Freckfast, held at Quattro Passi in Darlinghurst

Fiona cracks us up at Freckfast, held at Quattro Passi in Darlinghurst

Are we alone in the universe?

Thoughts, ponderings and infinite questions by Jim, Senior Designer

Space is big. Really big.

Space is big. Really big.

Grab a cuppa, settle in and join me as I take you on a warp-speed journey into space, the universe or more specifically, some of the theories that surround the question: are we really alone? 

Space is big. Really big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemist’s, but that’s just peanuts to space.

Douglas Adams, The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy

Adams was right. There are 400 billion stars in our galaxy alone and 170 million galaxies in the observable universe. Astronomers estimate that there are 70 sextillion stars in the known Universe. Try wrapping your mind around that.

Space is big, so big that when Stephen Hawking tells us it’s endless, we’re happy to accept the fact and get on with our lives. Or are we? Delve a little deeper, and you’ll discover humanity isn’t comfortable with the idea that space is endless. And that we might be completely alone in this vast void probably concerns us even more.

So, are we alone?

We've pondered the nature and size of space, and our position in it for many thousands of years. But, it’s only in relatively modern times that we’ve tried to address some of the big questions with mathematics and science.

One of the first people to tackle this was an Italian physicist called Enrico Fermi who, in the 1950s, formally posed his famous question, commonly known as The Fermi Paradox.

Put simply; the Fermi Paradox raises two completely contradictory observations.
If the greater Universe is indeed infinite, then it stands to reason that there must be an infinite number of habitable worlds with intelligent civilisations living on them. 

This is an absolute mathematical certainty. 

If that's the case... where is everyone?

In 1961 one of the founding members of the SETI Institute, Frank Drake, decided he was just as uncomfortable with the concept of infinite space as everyone else and attempted to address the contradiction of The Fermi Paradox once and for all.

He set out to calculate the possibility of intelligent life arising, flourishing and, crucially, communicating in our galaxy. To do this, he scaled down the scope of things to something our human brains could more easily fathom.

The Drake Equation uses eight variable factors including:

  • the rate of formation of stars in our galaxy;
  • the likely percentage of those stars supporting planets in a habitable zone, i.e. not too close or too far from its sun, with water and atmosphere; and
  • the likely percentage of those planets sustaining the necessary molecules to spark life.

The Drake Equation rather optimistically calculates that there are between 5000 and one billion intelligent communities capable of interstellar communication in our galaxy alone.

Obviously, these are huge variations in outcomes, but even at a minimum, you’d still expect there to be someone close by, right?

Well, not necessarily.

Scientists are a pretty pessimistic bunch, and they don’t believe anything until they have evidence, can examine it and prove its existence.

UFOs, Chariots of the Gods, the Nazca Plains Markings, Project Bluebook... they’re all fantasies to scientists, and they've come up with a whole bunch of theories to explain why we are essentially alone!

These numerous theories are collectively known as filters. Check these out and see if you agree.

1. Intelligent civilisations are just too far apart

If space is infinite, we might simply be too far away from one another to make contact. We’ve sent probes into space declaring our whereabouts and the nature of our species. However, by the time anyone or anything receives our messages, humankind may have been extinct for millions of years. Similarly, signals we receive from deep space - and we’ve come tantalisingly close on a few occasions - may have been transmitted by long-dead civilisations.

2. It’s too dangerous to communicate

I love this theory, and so does Stephen Hawking. Think about this: whenever civilisations with differing technologies have met on Earth, the results have always been disastrous. Think about what happened with settlers in North America, South America and Australia.

Perhaps it might be in our best interest to keep quiet and stop trumpeting our presence to the galaxy. After all, there may be hugely intelligent and malevolent species out there that thrive on enslaving everyone and everything they encounter. What if the galaxy teems with beings and they’re all thinking, “Shut the f*s# up Earth! You’ll blow our cover!”

3. The Zoo Hypothesis

This one is plain rude! Earth might simply be a biological oddity allowed to exist for the amusement of higher beings, like a reality TV show. We’re all a little bit dumb, and nobody wants to have a conversation with us any more than we want to have a chat with a sloth.

4. The Simulation Theory

Nothing is real. Everything we experience is an elaborate imaginary construct... you've all seen The Matrix.

5. Aliens are real, and they’re already here!

If you've ever seen a sci-fi movie like Invasion of the Body Snatchers, The Thing, The Fiend Without a Face, etc. then you'll be familiar with this idea, too.

The list goes on.

But the most compelling argument, in my opinion, is known as:

The Great Filter

The Great Filter theory was first proposed by Robin Hansen in the late 1990s and has since become perhaps the most compelling argument for why we might never reach the stars.
Essentially, it can be defined as a pivotal event in the development of a civilisation that brings about its devolution into a less civilised state, or its destruction.

In other words, all civilisations will fiddle around too much with science and blow themselves up.

By definition, any advanced civilisation can only achieve intelligence through its quest for knowledge and territory, and its need to procreate and expand.

This is the one constant of The Drake Equation that we know we can apply to any civilisation, be it our own or any alien civilisation in the Universe.

If single-celled microbial life evolves anywhere in the Universe, just as it did here on Earth 3.7 billion years ago, it will immediately begin to multiply and compete for space and sustenance. If that single-celled life succeeds and evolves into multi-cellular lifeforms, it must develop sexual reproduction techniques and therefore must develop an inclination to compete for compatible lifeforms with which to share its DNA.

This inclination inevitably leads to a quest for dominance even in non-sentient creatures. All creatures strive to dominate the best territory to feed, mate and spawn. It’s the absolute driving principle behind all life, human or otherwise.

All life is hard-wired to compete, to question and to wage war for territory and resources, and it's considered by many to be inevitable that our inquisitive nature, devious intelligence, greed and territoriality will either wipe us out or prove to be the greatest test of our evolution.

Some believe we've already passed the test with two World Wars, while others predict it's in our (near?) future. But if we can pass the test with our knowledge and technology intact, then we may well be able to unlock the secrets of the Universe.

Or perhaps we might discover that there’s nobody out there. After all, it's no more impossible than the impossible size of space.

I'd like to bookend this little article with another perfect quote from Douglas Adams who once again beat science at its own game when he wrote:

It is known that there are an infinite number of worlds, simply because there is an infinite amount of space for them to be in. However, not every one of them is inhabited. Therefore, there must be a finite number of inhabited worlds. Any finite number divided by infinity is as near to nothing as makes no odds, so the average population of all the planets in the Universe can be said to be zero. From this, it follows that the population of the whole Universe is also zero and that any people you may meet from time to time are merely the products of a deranged imagination.

Thanks for reading!

Adobe ‘Make It’ Conference 2017: Design. Passion. Sharpies.

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I spent my Thursday blissfully binging on inspiration at Sydney’s beautiful new ICC, a kind of in-the-flesh ‘Netflix & Upskill’.

Adobe has expanded its product range and community massively over the past few years and its annual Asia Pacific ‘Make It’ conference has grown to match. This year featured an eclectic array of exhibits, workshops, speakers and demonstrations, great food and drink, and even a live musical/dance performance.

The vibrant festival of creativity reflects our gradual shift into what James Noble, founder of Carter Digital and awesome speaker, calls the Design Age. Already, we’re seeing that it’s no longer about the technology nor the information, both of which seem to be outpacing us all. Now there are few gatekeepers and few limits. The personal video recorder in your pocket is probably better than what professionals used in the 80s, and much smaller too. Technology is merely a conduit and our approach to projects should reflect this. We need to take the technology considerations away, design a solution to the problem and then add back in the technology required.

I attended ‘Adobe Make It’ as a graphic designer, but the attendees I met were from a range of professions — I even found an accountant! And why not? In the Design Age, creative problem-solving is becoming more important for all of us, because, let’s face it, when the friendly robots take our jobs, some of the only roles left for Homo sapiens will be the creative ones. But whether you’re a creative or not, I think some of the things I learnt at ‘Make It’ can be applied to your career. In the Design Age, we are all becoming creative problem-solvers with abstract, multi-directional-hyphenated titles on our business cards. So here’s what I wanted to share – and it’s all about passion, a running theme at this year’s conference.

It’s great to be passionate about what you’re working on, but Gareth O’Brien from animation agency Buck asserts that it has been an important business metric for his team. The difficulty lies in justifying so-called ‘passion projects’ for a busy individual or team, especially when there is business to be done and money to be made. But for Buck, 'passion projects' have been important in creating new revenue streams: Gareth notes that when you look at the agency’s work, there is often a clear line from passion project to similar paid client work immediately after. The underlying message: Make what you want to make more of and you will proactively define your career. And that’s not all. By pursuing a passion project, you can win design awards, learn, do something you believe in (like help a non-profit with a campaign), improve team culture, and have fun, too!

Watch the talks from the main stage speakers as well as the pre-conference Sessions on demand  here .

Watch the talks from the main stage speakers as well as the pre-conference Sessions on demand here.

Sounds good, doesn’t it? But how on earth are you going to fit passion projects into your already-packed calendar? Gareth offers some advice. The project needs not be something you just made up. You can use a real brief from a real client; the ‘passion’ part can be you going above and beyond to explore an exciting angle or add value beyond the budget. In fact, having the boundaries of a real brief can be creatively beneficial. And also, passion projects need not be huge undertakings: we can all think about ways to work on tiny side-projects every now and then.

Of course, the concept of passion projects is nothing new: many creatives have created careers by investing time in exploring, playing, and honing a style or a craft they’re naturally interested in. Two speakers were striking examples of this because of their niche specialties. Kitiya Palaskas ultimately made up a new job description for herself: she’s a ‘craft-based designer’ who makes designs out of felt, and piñata-esque props for various creative applications. Meanwhile, Timothy Goodman has recently become well-known for his illustration work using his preferred medium, the humble Sharpie. Both designers used passion projects to build a habit of constant practice and experimentation, and kept one eye open for opportunities to create unique income streams in their personal businesses. And both have published books to showcase their success: Piñata Party and Sharpie Art Workshop.

All the speakers at ‘Adobe Make It’ made the case for stoking your creative fire, not only because life is sweeter that way but also because creativity can make a difference to what your business looks like moving forward. So whether you’re a graphic designer or an accountant, whether you work on them in your personal or professional life, passion projects have a place — more so than ever as we enter the Design Age. I left ‘Make It’ with a recharged inspiration to, well, just make it. I’m going to brush the dust off my Wacom tablet and start making something, for fun and for profit. And I’d encourage you to do the same. Not sure where to start? Just pick a place — any place — and go from there. To quote Tim Goodman: “You gotta make a lot of stuff before you start making stuff like yourself.”