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A Virtual Impossibility: Keeping Up with All My Digital Photos

In August, my daughter and I visited Cape Cod. A first for each of us! It is the childhood home of Artifcts co-founder Heather Nickerson, and she and her daughter were the perfect hostesses for this quick getaway. My vacation photo collection included:

      • Whale sightings (94 pictures) 
      • Our daughters playing on the beach and posing at the lifeguard station (16) 
      • Sunset on the harbor (12) 
      • Ptown art alley (18) 
      • Marshlands (11) 
      • Random things that made me smile, like a brass King Neptune figure with sign “Mermaids welcome” and the quintessential lobster lunch (22) 

You get the idea.

Three days and 202 photos later, we were departing Cape Cod on our return journey home to Austin. 

Where was I supposed to start with all those photos? On the plane, I did two things: culled and refined. I culled the near duplicates as well as the less than stellar and “Why did I take that?” images. 

 

view of deleted photos in album on phoneClearly I did not want to miss my chance to photograph the whales.

After scrubbing as many photos as I could, I color and size adjusted several photos that I particularly liked and marked them as favorites to further distinguish them.    

Now what? What do you do with all the digital photos that are so very easy to accumulate?  

Do you post albums to social media and then move on to some new post once the commentary dies down? Or push them into whatever cloud or other storage device you prefer, and look back through them only for the occasional calendar, enlargement, or holiday card? Perhaps send a few to lucky friends and family through one of those digital picture frames? 

I’m choosing to follow the model of Rainer Jenss, who used Artifcts earlier this summer to chronicle his trip through southern Africa day-by-day and creating composite Artifcts to represent the three days we spent on Cape Cod. Each Artifct captures something special, memorable, or otherwise, “Let’s do that again soon!” endorphin-rush worthy. 

I’ve shared these Artifcts with family, with our hosts so they know how special it was, my daughter (so she’ll always remember), and a few close friends who asked me for travel tips for their upcoming visits to the Cape. Bonus! These Artifcts will also make it easier to retrace our steps the next time we visit. One set of Artifcts, so many possibilities.  

Check out my public Cape Cod Artifcts as you consider how you want to easily and meaningfully manage your growing digital photo collection, even if it's only one trip at a time! 

Happy Artifcting! 

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© 2022 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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From Rare Art to Family Heirlooms: Tips From a Master as You Consider Selling Your 'Stuff'

When Anthony Bourdain passed away, he left behind an estate of objects, objects surely with stories. Or not. 

Some stories were no more than, “It belonged to him,” and if you admired his work or his person, maybe that would have been enough to compel you to purchase a piece from his estate auction. Other objects carried the weight of the star and a glimmer of who Anthony Bourdain was in the moment and place when the object became a part of his life. Pieces of his legacy.

Auction Catalog Lark Mason Associates Property of Anthony Bourdain     Bob Kramer Custom Knife for Anthony Bourdain with story about the knife

The auction catalog created for the personal collection of Anthony Bourdain.
 
 
 
So many stories behind those items.

Famous or not, the same is true for the objects of your life. Much of what you own you simply own. It decorates your home or maybe serves some functional requirement—why, hello, Chair. But some objects are more than objects, to you. You know where that print hung above your parents’ sofa. That 3000-piece train collection that was a joy for all and chief resident of your uncle's 500 square foot basement. And don’t forget that seemingly random ceramic jar set. You bought those in a small town outside Lake Garda, Italy, during your honeymoon. 

Other objects come into your life through others, such as the passing of a relative. These are especially challenging objects. You may not know anything about them other than who gave them to you. Maybe you chose a few items to take from your grandmother’s estate or an item was bequeathed to you and you think you can’t go against your grandmother’s wishes and have to hold onto it. 

Objects have histories, people have histories, and it all gets really complicated.

At Artifcts, we simplify and try to alleviate some of the burden stuff can create by making it easy to capture the history, life experiences, and memories behind objects. This holds true whether or not you keep the item.

To understand more about factors to consider when you want to sell an item, we sat down with Lark Mason of Antiques Roadshow fame and who you can often find these days at his New Braunfels, Texas-based auction house Lark Mason Associates. His message was clear: “I wish people understood their own motivations [regarding objects] more. Are they deriving an emotional charge from owning it? Do they want to make money somehow?”

The motivation for selling is vital to Lark Mason Associates because a seller’s motivations can influence whether the sale is a success in the eye of the beholder - What’s the minimum acceptable price? What is the sale timeline? (If you’re in a rush, you may have to forgo some of the value premium in favor of closing the deal.)

So, if you have you decided to sell an item, take Mason’s advice and pause and reflect on your goals and motivations:

        • Are you downsizing and must part with some objects?
        • Do the objects simply no longer fit your lifestyle or current decor, so you want to sell them and use the proceeds to replace them?
        • Do you have legal or financial problems that require you to divest assets?
        • Are these inherited and/or you are charged with dispersing the estate? If there’s a will, what does it say to do with proceeds of any sales (e.g. divide among children, philanthropies, other)?
        • Are you sure you’re ready to let go? Acknowledge your emotional attachments to the items. Artifct to remember and to maybe share those Artifcts with others who have ties to the items. 

As Mason gently noted, once you let go of an item, its identity is changed for good. Someone will bring the object home to a new environment, display it in a new way, not how your grandmother did. Not with the companion pieces or surrounding bookcase. (Although we see attempts to do so! Check out this Artifct.) Not with her favorite music playing in the background. This means then that “Even those ties to what ‘once was’ get weakened over time—now you have random grouping of objects that have been inherited through lethargy, financial, and emotional connections—and shift,” said Mason. 

We know the content of Bourdain’s personal collection moved on to new homes, and to Mason’s point, they likely took on new identities. Maybe the chef’s knife is no longer actively used and sits encased. Or his desk has become a foray table featuring photos of a family Bourdain never met. So it goes for him and for all of us. 

But what legacy do you want to leave behind? And how will you make the most of the objects you accumulate as you live your life? Documenting and readying them for sale is one option, and Artifcts is here to help guide and support you if you do.

Happy Artifcting!

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If you have items you would like to consign or auction through Lark Mason Associates or are in the market for a new piece, visit https://www.larkmasonassociates.com. 

© 2022 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Curious if That Object Is Valuable, Not Just Sentimental?

You've probably heard of TV shows like Antiques Roadshow and Pawn Stars. Maybe you're a top fan? Sometimes curiosity gets the better of us and we just want to know if this family heirloom, collectible, or other object is worth more than our sentimental attachments to it. Sometimes we are working to be better prepared for the inevitable. We can't take the stuff with us in the end and someone will have to deal with it when we're gone.

Now paid members of Artifcts can send Artifcts to Heritage Auctions Appraisal Services, Inc. for free valuations. Just open your Artifct, and click the button, "What's it worth?"  We have Valuation Services FAQs ready for you, too!Button that says "What's it worth?" follow by text "Request a free valuation. Learn more."

Our process offers a seamless result. When ready, your free valuation will appear in the Documentation section of your Artifct, and you'll receive an email notification so you know it's ready and waiting for you. You can even choose to ask Heritage Auctions for a no obligation appraisal estimate in case you expect you will need one for insurance, estate, or other purposes.

Acknowledge and consent to terms of free valuation request on your Artifct from Heritage Auctions

Which of your Artifcts may have hidden value? Find out today with our new "What's it worth?" feature.

Happy Artifcting!

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© 2022 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Pint-Sized Perspective on Decluttering and Moving

This piece for ARTIcles was inspired by a neighbor who spoke with Artifcts co-founder Ellen Goodwin about the woes of all that "kid stuff" to get through in preparation for a move this summer. Thank you for being our muse! And if you missed our adult-sized version of decluttering to move, give it a read ->  

From the time Violet was a baby and stretching well into toddlerhood, she moved a lot, bopping around Maryland, Virginia, and Texas. Her age made it easier on us, the parents, in that she didn't fully realize what was happening. She was also in a phase of life during which she naturally was outgrowing everything from books and toys to baby furniture and clothing at a fast pace, so purging during each move was simplified a bit. 

Then she turned six.  

"I'm ooo-l-d," she whined. Insert palm in face on every parent who hears this sweet nonsense. Mitigating her pain somewhat was the fact that her 6th birthday was in fact extra special - it fell on Easter. So, we called it "B-Easter," and managed an impromptu egg hunt blended with tea party, followed by chalk, bubbles, kites, and bikes. Not bad! 

photo of chalk on pavement "Happy B-Easter"

What we were less prepared for was the storm brewing behind this sweet looking little Texan's face after sharing a few days later that they would be moving. You'd think we stole her puppy! "But you did make a New Year's Resolution to buy a house this year," teased my husband. (True story! What kind of "resolution" is that?!) 

Violet began plotting. How could she pack EVERYTHING? How could she make her new home JUST like her current home? She packed boxes herself. She filled bags and tried knotting them closed before I could even look and confirm it was really just full of her Beanie Boos. It was cute and annoying simultaneously. We had to get going! 

colorful collection of Beanie BoosClick the image to view the Beanie Boo collection Artifct.

While the word "fair" is banned in our household Try it! It's amazing how many other, more informative words your kid will use when fair is off the table it was deemed "fair game" to use her passions and personality to help manage the situation. Decluttering was going to happen as packing proceeded. Not everything was getting on the moving truck, whether you were 6 or 36. And we did not want to end enemies.  

Tried & Tested Pint-Sized Strategies

Here are the strategies we used with our 6-year-old, and more recently with a set of adult children who were equally disinclined to part ways with a lot of stuff all at once.  

  1. Don't make it an "all at once" task. Friendly disclaimer: We know, sometimes a move is unexpected and abrupt. This then does not apply. In general, you have some notice, maybe even months, to prepare for a move. Consider starting with your child's least used and noticeable items in deep drawers, backs of closets, bins and boxes that have collected dust, and 'stuff' that truly doesn't fit (or work!) anymore. Something small each weekend. Let them play and experience it one last time if they want as they sort into piles to rehome, donate, recycle, resell, or maybe even trash. Smallest box is for the move.  
     
  2. And time it. Ask them to focus on the task for no more than 15 minutes. For 6-year-old Violet that was less than one episode of Sofia the First and totally manageable.  
     
  3. Know thy child. Appeal to sweet spots. Violet loves, loves, loves to be a helper. Extending that to helping others who have unmet needs for new books, clothes, and toys was a major source of success and pride. She even made cards to go with her donations. And the donations were not generic. We brought some into a women's shelter, for example, where we knew who would directly benefit locally. Seeing is believing, even when you're six. 
     
  4. Take photos and videos (and Artifct it!) of special items that don't make the cut. Have you noticed how kids of all ages, even at 56, love to browse photos and videos on their phone, in social media, etc.? We even have a video of 2-year-old Violet dancing and the moment she stops you can hear her say, "I want to see!" Sometimes you just like to see something to trigger that happy nostalgia or moments of pride from that hard one roller skating derby or large collections of anything that can't possibly come or maybe will but cannot be displayed in its entirety.  
     
  5. Embrace porch or garage sales. There's simple logic in favor of selling a large amount of 'stuff' even for low prices and gaining the power to buy that new whiz-bang toy or container of slime or funny hat all by yourself! Kids don't generally have money of their own and this is a good opportunity to reward their help in the decluttering process. Violet sold books she'd outgrown and a several movies too. 
     

Special Case: Moving to a New Country

Another friendly disclaimer: In a country as large as the US, another state can sure feel like another country ... No matter the excitement and motivation to make the leap and move to a foreign country, I empathize with what you will go through in terms of energy, cost, and general discombobulation. Every move we made was hard but heading into a foreign culture amplifies the desire for the comfort familiar objects, foods, music, and more can offer.  

International moving and shipping fees, or conversely long-term self-storage fees, may mean your decluttering and downsizing tasks are more extreme. This is definitely a time Artifcts can help. Want to show off your transformer collection ... special dolls ... cool bike ... but can't take them with you? Artifct to remember and show your new friends what your life was like in your home country! 

We bet you can adapt these ideas to your own kids. Or, if you are a professional organizer, we hope these tactics can help you as you work with clients in similar situations.

Happy Artifcting! 

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© 2022 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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What Have You Done for Your Legacy Lately?

When you hear the word "legacy" what comes to mind? Estate planning, memoirs and videographies, maybe heartfelt donations to causes you support? For some, the reaction is a bit different. Maybe you think legacy is only for the rich. Or maybe you are among those who think, "I'm not that important," or "My actions in this life should be enough, no?" If you think that way, that might stop you cold, preventing you from doing anything about your legacy. 

We'd like to encourage you to look at legacy from a fresh perspective. 

Myths, legends, campfire stories: What do they all have in common? They are relatable and they carry on through time by virtue of being shared. But what happens when, like in the children's game Musical Chairs, the music stops, and maybe you stopped or failed to share those stories? They die with us. That, dear reader, is legacy lost. That's your personal history, a history built through the years, that is irretrievable.  

What’s left then are the other forms of legacy that are more tangible. We chatted recently with two researchers in this area of "legacy" and have distilled what we learned about facets of legacy into four themes:  

  1. Financial … as in money, real estate etc. 
  2. Material (possessions) … you know, the 'stuff' of a life lived, some with sentimental value, some with monetary, some with both (which is which?!) 
  3. Reputational or symbolic … capturing our stories, words of wisdom, and other marks made on the world 
  4. Instructions and wishes … including how to dispose of an estate, invest money philanthropically or otherwise, make sure So-and-So gets an education, etc. 

We think a lot about legacy at Artifcts. Core to our mission is ensuring you can capture the value to you of all the ‘stuff’ that you collect throughout your daily life in a fun, personalized, and easy way. Why? We want to make sure whoever your “they” is knows the true value of an item before it’s too late. Do not let the next generation miss out on all those life experiences and stories that make you... you! Everyone has a story or two worth sharing.

Consider these examples from the Arti Community - it was the legacy of the person and their story that made each special: 

  • No one wanted Grandmom's three brass trays until they heard her story about buying them and her meeting with a king cobra. 
  • That sandal would have gone in the trash (still may) without the lesson learned. 
  • Her “famous” biscuit recipe would have been lost forever if her granddaughter hadn’t asked. Now it can be recreated from generation to generation.  
  • That delightfully wacky clock might have been first on the auction block but now they know that this was a memento from a special family moment. 

Don't wait. Take a step and craft your own legacy. Grab an old photo. Dust off that knickknack on the shelf. Take a fresh look at the art on your wall. What stories from last week or decades ago lay hidden in plain sight? Create an Artifct today. 

Happy Artifcting! 

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© 2022 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Three Peas in a Pod: Sports, Stuff, & Stories

If you are a parent, a friend of a parent, neighbor of a parent, or contemplating parenthood, you've probably noticed that sports consume a vast amount of time & energy for parents and child athletes alike not to mention money and storage space for all that gear. And then, they get older, and the equipment larger and more expensive.  

We’ve found ways to cope and find the humor in this sporting reality. Surely you've seen bumper stickers like "swim taxi" or heard someone say, "I'll be working from my {barn} office," as Artifcts Co-founder Heather Nickerson often quips as she departs for her daughter's horse riding lessons. 

You may already be using Artifcts as your top ally in keeping track of the key moments, good luck tokens, awards, gear, and other memorabilia you can't (yet?) part with.  

broken baseball cleat without laces    child in hockey jersey and gear standing outside an indoor rink

Click the image to view the baseball cleat or hockey jersey.
 
 
The owners tell us neither of these has been given up (yet)!

Inside the World of Swimming 'Stuff'

Today we're focusing on that last bit, the hall of fame worthy gear, but not from a parent. We're pivoting to the sport of swimming and the Texas Swimming & Diving Hall of Fame.

Charles Logan spent the better part of 12 years as the Director of the Lee and Joe Jamail Texas Swimming Center at The University of Texas at Austin. And lucky for all who enjoy the phenomenal Olympic-level center, Logan has long had a passion for collecting swim memorabilia. Much of his collection (but not all!) now resides in frames, glass display cases, and special exhibits at the Texas Swimming & Diving Hall of Fame, with notable contributions from Texas athletes and families. 

Picture of an old postcard with a caricature of a swimmer on the front

 
 
 
 
This Artifct is part of a private swim memorabilia collection. Click the image to view the Artifct.

To clarify, the stuff resides at the Hall of Fame; until very recently, the stories did not.

Those stories were locked in Charles' memories of a lifetime of collecting and chasing histories. That of course meant that when massive crowds visit the facility for NCAA competitions and championships, Olympic qualifying events, and regular long and short course seasons (not to mention hours and hours and hours of practice) the swim memorabilia left people to wonder, "What is this?” “Why is it here?" and “How does it all connect?” And for all those who never visit the Hall of Fame in person, it’s simply lost history. 

Joining forces with Artifcts, the 'stuff' now has stories and is ready and waiting to inform and entertain Hall of Fame visitors and maybe even inspire a whole new generation of swimmers. We invite you to a virtual tour of some of those exhibits on Artifcts! 

black swimsuit with white T on it  Vintage USA Olympic Swim Team Luggage, bag and suitcase    vintage swim patch collection on a swim jacket

View the complete collection  ->

And if you're visiting the Texas Swimming & Diving Hall of Fame, be on the look out for Aritfcts QR codes sprinkled throughout!  

Artifcts QR code on a swim mannequin

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Have a space in your life like the Texas Swimming & Diving Hall of Fame making you say, "Hmmm?" Contact us at Hello@Artifcts.com to discuss personal concierge options and non-profit and enterprise support. 

© 2022 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Show Me the Favorite Moment in Your House

From mementos to heirlooms, your home’s interior can be as colorful as you and your Artifcts. Some of us skew maximalist in nature, maybe because life is busy and we accumulate stuff, maybe because we’re our family keepers and don’t want to let go of it. Others of us tend toward minimalism, but maybe still rebuff the idea of a strict minimalist home lifestyle. Personally, I need to be surrounded by color, texture, and 3D ‘stuff’ that is meaningful to me. Don't tell me to digitize all of my stuff and be happy to let it go either. 

Now, don't get me wrong, like many, I dream of hiring an interior designer to simplify and beautify my space. I follow several on social media. But I’ve also always imagined a designer’s work to be incredibly challenging. Or is it only a client like me that's challenging? 

The last thing I want is a house full of thingamabobs from your local mega chain store, upscale design house, or otherwise. It feels impersonal, as though I’m living in a hotel - brilliant (maybe) but benign enough to please most. I want to be surrounded by family, friends, and memories, and that takes custom "Been there, done that," "She gave it to me when I was 10," "I got it when I traveled through Italy," stuff. The stuff of Artifcts. 

So, I met up recently with a couple interior architects and designers to ask, almost like therapy, “Am I difficult?” It turns out that, no, I’m not difficult or alone in this quest for meaningful stuff and life moments to surround me in my home.  

Allison Shields, Founder of AM Shields based out of Santa Fe, New Mexico, shared with me how a home interior she designed recently moved her to reflect on how very different her personal design view sometimes is from her clients’ perspectives. And guess what? ‘Stuff’ was at the heart of it. 

"Everything I own has a specific story, a relationship to where it started. An object can throw me into a vortex of remembrance of that trip I went on. Even as a child, everything was curated and meaningful to our family. This client I had recently was the opposite. It was a shocking experience. They were not just minimalists. There wasn’t a book they’d read or photo of a family member incorporated into their new home. Nothing personal, and yet they loved the results.” 

 

Hallway with gallery of dozens of framed artwork on a deep red wall@AMSHIELDS "Hallway to Heaven" featuring her mother's art collection.

This type of depersonalized living is probably on the extreme end of home interior design. Maryana Grinshpun, the Founding Partner and Design Director at Mammoth Projects NYC, remarked that often people in NYC, no matter their wealth, do not have the luxury of stuff and clutter. There’s just no space! 

But even then, some piece or another will typically make an appearance in the design. “Clients usually will tell me even before I show up that they have something important, something that connects them with their story, that needs to be incorporated. For one client it’s grandma’s stool from the old country; for another, a surfboard. And why not? Telling stories through objects is compelling. And my job is to see the world through my client’s eyes, create that curated view, and build a design story around it.” 

Maryana and Allison agreed, too, that the greatest challenge as designer is that you start with a blank page each time. And the first line can be the hardest to put down. It starts to reveal the character of the people who live in a space and the space itself.  

Each Artifct can help define the first line in a more personal way than any Pinterest board you might pull together. As you look around at the moments that fill your space, we want to leave you with a few thoughtful tips and a few of our own personal Artifcted moments in our spaces to help inspire you: 

  • Here's a quick and easy fix: Try re-arranging. Space at a premium? No budget for a new look. Ask a friend or neighbor for ideas on how they would rearrange a key room in your home, like the living room. Then try each arrangment. You might be suprised how it breathes new life into your space. 
  • Sometimes it's not the space. It’s how you’re living in it. Don’t love living in your space anymore? Has stuff been relegated to the back of your closet or other storage space when it would bring you more happiness to be able to display and enjoy it? Might be time for a little help for a designer who can help you balance what comes out and make it pleasant and functional, too.
  • If you bring in a pro, try oversharing. You might have a lot of stuff, even too much stuff, but little or no inclination towards design. That’s okay. Be honest about your obstacles to date in designing your living space and bring the stuff into the discussion. Let the designer know, “This art is meaningful to us. Can you do something with it?” 
  • Objects can help with tight budgets. Few people have five and six figure budgets to commit to home interior design, so then what? Look again at what you already own and consider how your possessions can play into a new look and feel for your home. You might just realize you have this thing or a collection of those things that will help get the job done whether you're doing it on your own or bringing in professional reinforcements! 

   

Click any image for a peek into a "favorite moment" incorporated into one of our co-founder's homes.  

We’d love to be inspired by your Artifcted moments at home, too! Share with us on Instagram (@theartilife) or on Facebook (Artifcts). 

Happy Artifcting! 

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ABOUT THE FEATURED DESIGNERS

A.M. Shields. A design and interior architecture firm creating thoughtful, inspiring and unexpected spaces for commercial and residential clients. The A.M. Shields web site and portfolio are under their own redesign at amshields.com and am.shields.interiors (Instagram). Contact Allison at allison@amshields.com for a consult. 

Mammoth. A NYC-based design-build studio and one-stop shop for a seamless renovation, including interior design, construction, and furnishing. Check out Mammoth online at mammothnewyork.com or mammoth_projects (Instagram).

© 2022 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Latest Features and Improvements | June 2022

In our March product update, we asked you all for feedback. Every conversation and every email since has been all about what you love most and what leaves you wanting more as you learn your way around Artifcts. Today we're delighted to announce two new *beta* features direct from the Arti Community available to you on Artifcts.com.

More photo options? More friends? We've got you covered!

RETRIEVE FILES FROM OTHER SOURCES

We hear you. Chaos in the digital age afflicts us all. Our clients consistently have to remember whether a video or photo they are looking for is somewhere in that great big "cloud," in one of numerous personal email accounts, on a desktop hard drive or removable backup, or somewhere else altogether. And if you're over a certain age, maybe you have CDs, floppies, or hardcopies yet to be digitized, too. Chaos, truly. 

Today we're moving another step forward to helping you Artifct despite the chaos. New to Artifcts.com, you may now add files from sources other than the device you're working on, including: Google Drive, Box, OneDrive, and Dropbox. This means less need to email, airdrop, or otherwise transfer files from place to place as you create your Artifcts. Just choose the file source and follow the prompts.

Create a new Artifct —> 

drag and drop or choose Google Drive, DropBox, OneDrive, or Box

 
 
 
 
Create an Artifct and try this new feature!
 
 
 

CREATE A NETWORK FOR EASY SHARING AND MORE

We also know clients feel frustrated when they have to dig for an email address or remember an Artifcts screen name to share an Artifct with someone. We're testing a second new feature that allows you to create a network to simplify sharing, searching, and inviting others to Artifct with you. You can add existing contacts from Gmail in a single click, add individuals one-by-one with name and email, or upload a CSV file that includes your contacts. Not sure what a CSV is or how to get your contacts into a CSV file? We have FAQs to help!

Create an Artifcts network with custom, Gmail, or CSV contacts

 
 
 
 
Build your network. Sign in and visit Account Settings > Content & Network.

Once you have added contacts to your network, you can click to 'Invite' them to join Artifcts for free. You can also follow them once they have joined Artifcts. 

Expand your Artifcts network —> 

 

And again, we're an email away at Hello@Artifcts.com if you'd like to share feedback as you give these features a test drive or as you dream of new blue sky features you'd enjoy as you make yourself at home at Artifcts.

Happy Artifcting!

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© 2022 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Father, World Traveler, and Now Downsizer: The True Story of One Man's Triumph Over 'Stuff'

World traveler and five kids. Need I say more to justify how so much stuff can accumulate over time?

At one point in my life, I was moving every few years - living in four different countries overseas in a span of what seemed like no time at all. I've lived the last 19 years in the same house without the natural “cleansing” of a move (although I’ll admit I once had a trash canwith trashthat got packed and moved). And now, as the fourth child goes to college and we have only one left at home, it's time to downsize. It's time to change the narrative of our daily lives.

The children's reactions so far have included stress, from the change, and frustration with the perceived erasing of memories as we ask them to realize they’re moving on and we want to as well. As a person who looks to logic to control emotion and justify circumstances, I try to rationalize that the memories are just that, memories that cannot be taken away. However, those memories are triggered by objects that connect me to a specific time or moment in my past. Objects that often have stories behind them. 

Picture of a cardboard box full of sticks, rocks, and railroad ties

 
 
 
 
Some people tell fish tales. This Artifct is about survival.
 
 
Click the image to view the Artifct.

I’ve realized during this downsizing process just how many of my memories exist in boxes that no one has laid eyes on for a decade or more. If I had collected an actual object to trigger each memory I wish I could recall, I would have run out of space long ago. I've also accepted that nobody, including me, will reminisce those forgotten times or places if those memory triggers are not available.

Along came Artifcts. As I downsize not only what's around the house, in my office, and otherwise a part of our daily lives, but also everything that remained in boxes for decades, I’ve started documenting them in Artifcts.

1980 yearbook from Stonewall "Sabres" Middle School in Manassas, Virginia

Well, hello yearbooks! Click to view the Artifct.

 

It’s much easier for me to share and show those objects, and more frequently recall and tell the stories, using the ‘story box’ (aka the Artifcts app) I now carry around in my phone. There’s little chance of me being near my real boxes of stuff when I want to humble-brag about an object or tell a story about a commonality I discover with someone I've just met. But I’m almost guaranteed to have my phone on hand and the Artifcts app with it.

With Artifcts, I’m also more apt to capture and preserve the objects and stories in the moment as I acquire something (or even sometimes skip the acquisition and just document the memory). Just as importantly, I realized I'm regularly using Artifcts to capture memories as I go through boxes with my mother and other family members, and I have them tell the stories. When a loved one is gone, or I’m gone, it gives me great solace to know my memories can carry on and be used to tell the next generation about what Dad or Grandpop had and did in life. All these little objects form a mosaic, painting a wonderful picture of why we are who we are.

Again, it's rarely the actual object that’s important. It’s the memories triggered by the objects. Artifcts has enabled me to let the objects go as I downsize, or consciously document the importance of an object I keep so my kids will understand what it is when I’m not around to tell the story. Until then, I want to easily access to my objects, or memory triggers, so I can tell the story in person. My kids will probably want a “number of stories told” counter added to Artifcts so they can limit the number of times I reminisce. But reminiscing is a parental right, right?

- Matt Ramsey

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© 2022 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Nostalgia: Mental Disorder Turned Cultural Megaphone

Did you know that in the late 1600s and extending through the days of the U.S. Civil War nostalgia was considered a mental disorder? The term nostalgia is derived from the Greek nostos, or homecoming, and algos, or pain, or in other words, “a longing to return home.” Soldiers suffering from nostalgia were considered a risk to their regiment, brigade, or other unit and could have been discharged from service. 

Fast forward nearly 150 years and nostalgia today earns companies billions making what was old new again. Insiders call it the nostalgia economy. In-person and virtual marketplaces for vintage, antique, second-hand, retro, and upcycled have thrived. ThredUP, a publicly traded online consignment and thrift store, claims that the global secondhand apparel market alone will topple $220 billion in the next five years, a figure it revised upwards dramatically over the last year. Check out the 2021 and 2022 reports.   

Marketing mascots and slogans, tv show reboots, and collectibles all play into the nostalgia economy. Just think of all the children's toys – original Barbies, Nintendo and Atari gaming consoles, Hot Wheels cars, Pokémon cards, and so much more. Or iconic clothing. Even my 12-year-old tried out “mom” jeans as well as a preppy accordion-pleated skirt straight out of the 1995 movie Clueless (although she claims Pitch Perfect, 2012). And don't forget pop music as well as vinyl-devoted music fans. “Vinyl records” videos on TikTok have nearly 650 million views! And finally, my favorite retro category – machines. I’m looking at you typewriters, hand tools, and polaroid cameras. 

Text asking if you have collected any nostalgia-based items during the COVID pandemic

Join the conversation with us on social media!

Nostalgia-motivated buying has transformed collectibles auctions, too, by drawing younger than ever bidders. According to a February 2022 article in Antique Trader, Dallas-based auction house Heritage Auctions reported that 37% of first-time bidders in 2021 were millennials. What collectibles brought in the money? Nostalgic items like playing cards and video games along with a Harry Potter book. (I can’t believe the first book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, came out 25 years ago!) 

Social media has accelerated micro trends and communities in all things nostalgia, offering a never-ending, scroll-happy stream of throwback goods (often for sale). People can "Discover” online, Covid-safe, communities of like-minded fans of whatever vintage item bubbles up next. But like fast-fashion, and fast furniture that we featured last week, people also talk fast-nostalgia. Is anyone else wondering when they will realize why that “it” thing fizzled to start with, maybe starting with wired headphones, as featured in a November 2021 article of Teen Vogue 

Headline from Teen Vogue: Wired Headphones are the New "It" Accessory - and We Should Have Seen It Coming

 
 
 
 
Click the headline to access the Teen Vogue article.

We have a special appreciation for nostalgia and its place in our lives here at Artifcts, uniting us through our shared histories and connecting us to the world we've grown up with and the cultures we've come from. Reminiscing can renew feelings of joy, and often temper the sorrows since we know that we tend to look on the past with rose-colored glasses, safely detached from daily life.  

We hope that here at Artifcts we can all take concrete steps to harness that nostalgia for good and find meaning by linking the past, present, and future. Where will nostalgia take you next in your Artifcting journey? 

Below are three nostalgia-strong Artifcts from our co-founders' personal collections. You can click an image to view the related Artifct. What nostalgic items are in your Artifcts collection? 

pink and blue pastel vintage piggy bank    Collection of vinyl Christmas records    pair of black, thick-framed 1960s eyeglasses

Click an image to view the Artifct.

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© 2022 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Who Wants This Rocking Chair?
You have likely heard the expression "fast fashion." Today I'm fixated on "fast furniture." Relatively cheaply made so we can all afford it and maybe have fun trying new and trending styles, it wears out all too quickly and then off to the landfill it goes. Shockingly, the EPA estimates that 9 million U.S. tons of furniture and furnishings hit the landfills every single year.
Of course it is not all fast furniture to blame. Sometimes no one wants it anymore, it has irreparable damage, and/or it fails to meet today's safety standards and cannot be donated or resold through secondhand stores. Our options then are to cart it around and use or store it out of guilt because of the memories and the distaste for so much waste in the world. Or, yes, we send it off hopefully to be recycled but more than likely to accumulate in landfills.
I have an item I fear is on this pathway. It is a children's sized wooden rocking chair gifted to my siblings and me by our grandmother. My mother let me bring to my home so my daughter could use it. Now littles in the neighborhood enjoy it. But, what next, when they too outgrow it? Do I keep it forever? Really?! I don't think guilt hoarding is a legacy my grandmother is aiming for.
 
Ellen and Violet, generation apart, same wooden rocking chairClick the image to view the Artifct.
I've watched throughout the pandemic as truckloads of "junk" head out of our neighborhood. I suspect it's because we were all spending dramatically more time at home and maybe felt restless or like the walls were closing in, so "Let's make more space!" because that, that we can control.
And now I wonder: What are you holding onto? What do you have luxuriating in pricey, climate-controlled storage, aka your home or paid self-storage, and consuming more money than it might be worth (from a sentimental and/or market value)? And, what's your plan for it all?
List of categories of items people tend to hang onto
Share with us on social media or, even better, Artifct it and share via Hello@Artifcts.com and maybe we'll feature it and your story!
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© 2022 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
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The Story of the Rhino (of) Wimberley

Today we’re taking you to Kenya via the eclectic and artsy hill country town of Wimberley, Texas, to share the story of a photographer’s journey through music venues and the depths of oceans to the great continent of Africa, and the rise of a small Texas town as a champion (and namesake) of a southern white rhino. 

But before we talk rhinos, we must talk elephants. It’s too good of a story to pass up. 

In November 2019, award-winning photographer and long-time Wimberley resident Rodney Bursiel made his way to Kenya to capture the majestic elephants of the land. With only about two dozen of the “Big Tuskers” remaining, each are named, tracked, and closely studied. Inspired by photographers like Nick Brandt, Rodney arrived in Amboseli National Park with high hopes of photographing two of the famed large-tusk elephants: Craig and Big Tim.  

As luck would have it, Rodney came face to face with Craig, “I was enamored and downright giddy by the opportunity to get so close to this magnificent being!” A few hours later, Rodney would get word that Tim was about an hour away from his current location, but his day had already been long and was quickly losing light, so he decided to head out before daybreak the next morning to pursue him.  

Despite a 4 am departure, Rodney was too late. Tim had ventured off into an off-limits area of the park. Rodney never found Tim on this journey, and sadly a few months later in February 2020, Tim died of natural causes. This was a crushing loss to conservationists who expected Tim to live another 10 years, and a lost opportunity for a photographer hoping for a second chance with Tim. 

Fast forward to August 2021, a ‘next’ trip to Africa in the works, and more elephants on the agenda, Rodney learned about Najin and Fatu, the very last northern white rhinos on the planet. The LA-ST two! “You want to do something to help. Be a part of it!” said Rodney. Trip plans were scratched, new ones created. “Remember Tim!” Time seemed to be of the essence. 

Through a fortunate series of introductions, Rodney connected with James Mwenda, Grand Ambassador and former Ranger for Ol Pejeta Conservancy who knows these nearly extinct rhinos intimately, having protected and cared for them 24/7 for seven years. And this time, success! Meet Najin and Fatu, through the lens of Rodney Bursiel.  

Black and white photo of two northern white rhinos, Najin and Fatu

 
 
 
 

Last September, freshly returned to Wimberley from this once in a lifetime experience, Rodney wanted to share his experiences through an immersive and philanthropic experience in his hometown. He and his partner brought together the people of Wimberley for an enchanting evening with entertainment by a Masai tribal dance group, an authentic menu prepared by Kenyan Chef Njathi Kabui and, of course, a conversation with Rodney and James Mwenda. Rodney unveiled his latest photographs of beloved Africa and together he and James wove the tale of Najin and Fatu to help raise awareness about the plights of these animals for a new budding community of wildlife conservationists.  

 

Surely it’s not surprising to learn that protecting large game in Africa is a never-ending endeavor, poachers are relentless and of course nature takes unexpected tolls, too, as in the case of Tim. A vast community exists to protect and conserve these animals. Photographers play an important role in making the animals real, instead of the stuff of childhood imaginations and stories, as well as bringing them to the forefront of media and philanthropy.  

The Ol Pejeta Conservancy chose to thank Wimberley for its financial support by naming its 15-month-old southern white rhino—the closest relative to Najin and Fatu—Wimberley. The Conservancy’s choice was very intentional. White rhinos are more docile and less skittish than the black rhino, making it easier for photographers like Rodney to return and continue to support the very survival of a species through photos, stories, and, most importantly, the sharing of knowledge globally. 

What’s next for Rodney? “The rhinos will always be near to my heart. The more I experience, the more I learn, the more I want to help raise awareness. I will continue my work with Ol Pejeta Conservancy and expand my efforts with other existing conservation outlets.” 

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Interested in learning more and supporting rhino conservation and efforts to combat illegal wildlife trade? Visit the Ol Pejeta Conservancy at www.olpejetaconservancy.org. 

To view more of Rodney’s work, visit rodneybursielphotography.com. If you’re local to or visiting Wimberley, his photography will be featured in a few upcoming gallery events, including Art on 12 (Wimberley), opened May 14; A. Smith Gallery (Johnston City, TX), throughout August; and The Wimberley Inn, a one-night only installation in November. 

© 2022 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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