Greetings from Sydney and welcome to the inaugural post of this fine blog!
My name is Alicia Freile and I’m the Design Director here at Tango Media. I’m an American living in Sydney, Australia… which has been a dream of mine since I was very young. Initially, I blame Olivia Newton-John and her appeal to me as a little kid, wearing the signature headband and leotard, belting out “Let’s Get Physical” and not really getting what the song was about. I found out she was from Australia and my interest in the country was piqued…
And then “The Facts of Life” gang went down under, courtesy of a multi-episode special. I believe there was some scandal involving an opal. And Tootie had the hots for an Aboriginal guy. Good stuff. ‘Crocodile Dundee’ weighed in, as did ‘Muriel’s Wedding’ and ‘Strictly Ballroom’. And INXS, of course.
But life down under remained a pipedream for years… I went to university in small-town Pennsylvania, did the obligatory semester in the UK, graduated, and started my career as a graphic designer specializing in books. Before I knew it, I had spent over 8 years in Philadelphia.
So my dream to live in Australia was put off until I reached the ripe old age of 32, when I uprooted myself from Pennsylvania to Sydney in order to earn my masters degree in design management at the University of New South Wales. That was 4 years ago, and I’m still here… Living on the opposite side of the world, designing books for clients across the globe (thank you, internet!) and enjoying life down under.
I’ve decided to start this blog to discuss life as an expat designer, all things visual, relevant and irrelevant musings and whatever else pops up along the way… As an American designer living and working abroad, I know my experience is a unique one and I’m happy to share that online.
I’ll provide a little insight into my background as a designer, to provide a good viewpoint on where I’m coming from with this blog… I was initially drawn to book design because the final product didn’t seem as disposable as other types of designed materials. A college friend of mine mentioned it would be the worst thing ever to see something you designed in the gutter. She had a point, it’s not a happy moment when you see your very own design, which involved hours of work and revisions and kerning and colour correction… in the trash. Luckily, I was able to get into the book world and stay there, despite a move across the globe.
I’ve worked at one American graphic design agency (which specialized in book design), at one book publisher in the US and one in Australia (both times as an in-house designer), at two American universities as an adjunct design instructor, and finally at Tango Media as the Design Director. I’ll save all the wacky part time jobs I’ve had for another day…
The fear of seeing my work in the gutter has faded, and now my motivation to keep designing books is because the work is interesting. I’m always learning something new within each project’s text and I like that. I’m lucky… I get to do something that I love every day.
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