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TIPS & TRICKS
Not Sure What to Write? Tips from Guest Jeff Greenwald

He's authored 1000s of articles, several books, and what's maybe the first known travel blog. And on Thursday night during Evenings with Artifcts Jeff Greenwald shared with us simple but powerful tips, and a healthy dose of perspective, to help us craft our own stories behind the objects of our lives.  

Watch the full Evenings with Artifcts event here.

  • It is hard to write about an object with no personal meaning but even harder when it has tremendous personal meaning. Bear that in mind and go easy on yourself. 

  • Start with something true. This is the trick to writing anything nonfiction. For example, start with a little line about where you got the object: “I bought this in a street market in Istanbul.” And from there go on to describe the scene a little bit and what happened there that connects you with the object.  

Start with something true.

  • Other starters for your Artifcts:  

        • Where were you when you acquired the object? 
        • Was it a gift? Who gave it to you? Tell a bit about them. What was your relationship with them that they felt they should give you a gift like that? “The moon Rocket was a gift for my friend Dave Mccutcheon, and he and I have been friends for many years and share a love of robots and spaceships and dinosaurs... all those things we loved when we were kids.” 
        • Why is it important to you?
        • What feelings does it evoke in you?
  • If a story comes to mind, you can just start jotting it down anywhere. Let your thoughts go where they will. It can be a collection of random thoughts that you can look at later and put together into some sort of a story structure. 

  • We all have stories. Writers block comes from our internal critic. It challenges you with, “Why would anybody want to read it? What could you have to say? What makes you think you're so great that anyone should listen to anything you're telling them?” You have to tell yourself, “I have a right to do this because I’m a human being with a story, and the story deserves to be told whether or not you, my internal critic, thinks that it does.” Push the internal critic aside. 
I’m a human being with a story, and the story deserves to be told.
  • If you value the stories and need motivation to begin capturing and preserving those stories with Artifcts, make a deal with yourself like Jeff did. Jeff made a pact to give away the objects once their stories were told. Maybe you’ll choose to Artifct twice per week. Or perhaps you’ll start with those items that are most meaningful to you.  

  • A bit of advice Jeff shared from esteemed author Kurt Vonnegut: Write your stories as though you are writing them for one person, as if you are telling this person each of the stories. It gives all the stories a similar tone, a singular voice. 

  • Always include when and where the object was acquired. These are important details.

  • Struggling with a title? Write out 10 of them. It will help you to start to shape your story, too.

Our stuff, the objects that we collect, that inspire us, they are really not what's important. We do not need to keep them. The only thing that is important are the stories, and the only way to keep the stories is to tell them.

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© 2022 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Debunking the Top 3 Myths About Our 'Stuff'

As we approach the end of Artifcts’ first year in business, Ellen and I can’t help but get a little nostalgic about all the people whose paths we’ve crossed as we launched Artifcts into the world. Our collaborators have ranged from world travelers to authors to experts in home organization and downsizing. It’s an ever-growing group of people with one thing in common: ‘stuff.’ Lots and lots of stuff, and all the history, memories, and stories that go along with it.

Most of the time, our conversations evolve at a breakneck pace with one comment or observation very quickly leading to another and like magic, new Artifcts are born. Sometimes, however, we must first overcome skepticism related to our relationships with stuff or just sheer inertia. If you know anything about us, you know those hurdles don’t last long.

We have observed over the past year that most skepticism is directly related to three main myths about all our stuff. (And yes, even as Artifcts’ founders, we’re sometimes guilty of these too.)

Myth #1: No one wants my stuff.

Yes, it's been written about ad-nauseum in major print and digital publications, but we think based on our experience over the year, they’re missing the mark. True, your children may not want random pieces of furniture with no history, story, or memory associated with them, but, that dining room table, the one they grew up with, that’s probably a keeper. Love letters that Grandpa sent to Grandma during WWII? A family treasure.

Taking a moment to document and share the story, history, and memory behind the item makes it much more valuable and not just in the financial sense. We’re talking about heart value here, the emotional connection that binds one generation to the next. We often hear from Arti members that once they share the story, memory, or meaning behind the item, it suddenly goes from “No one wants it,” to “It’s been rehomed!” Sometimes even the most insignificant object can take on new meaning once the story is discovered. Click here to view the story behind co-founder Ellen Goodwin’s recently rehomed and repurposed treasure.

 

Myth #2: Photos are worth 1,000 words.

Sorry, Dear Reader, we beg to differ with you here. I spent an entire weekend at a genealogy conference listening to people talk about how they wished their ancestors had written more than just the date and, if they were lucky, who was in the photo. What was the story behind that pose? That trip? That house? Photos are only worth the words that are somehow (safely) attached to them.

Trust me, I know first-hand. I’m still trying to track down details of photos my mother saved from high school. Who, what, when, where, and most of all (to me at least), why? Why that photo? We can almost always guarantee winning over the most skeptical of skeptics when we share the photo example. Still curious? Take a look at one of @Grandmom’s public Artifcts to learn the story behind her photo.

 

Myth #3: I don’t have anything old, valuable, or otherwise “Artifct-able.”

Good try, but we’re not buying it. We’re redefining Artifcts together. Your Artifcts don’t have to be old, historically significant, or valuable. An Artifct is anything that has meaning to you. It’s that simple.

That drawer of birthday cards, love notes, and letters from my family and friends. Yep, all Artifcts. No monetary value whatsoever, but I’d be sad to lose them. Same thing with all my daughter’s artistic creations. Chances are she’s not going to be the next Picasso, but I cherish her paintings, drawings, and ceramics all the same. And if she happens to be the next Picasso? I’ll have the history and stories securely documented! Hello provenance.

We'd love to hear from you! What do you think? Convinced? Not convinced? Have another Artifcts myth you’d like us to bust? We’re game! And if you need only another little nudge or two, stay tuned. We have a lot more coming, including habit change tips, handy checklists, and even our first Arti Evening series!

Happy Artifcting!

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© 2022 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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So, You Want to Be a Pro Artifcter? Fresh Tips!
The Arti Community is full of inspiration. From the Artifcts shared to the discussions we have during Arti Events, here are some of the bright ideas circulating lately to help you Artifct.

Location is really flexible. Really.

Because you can write anything you want for "Location" in your Artifct and it’s always private, people use it creatively. A home organizer said her clients use this field to indicate future location of items, e.g. to donate, sell, dispose, or pass along to friends or family. A genealogist said he uses Location to indicate the file path/folder where he stores related materials to a specific Artifct, such as 100s—truly, 100s—of photos and documents.

Voicemails are trending.

You can include voicemails as a featured media file or as a document only you can access. One gentleman told us he’s Artifcted the voicemails he’s been saving for years on his phone, including a message from his daughter before she deployed in the US Navy. Life moments captured forever in the voice of loved ones.

You can of course create your own voice messages to include with Artifcts. Check out our tips if you need help!

Downsizers unite!

The spring moving season has seen a lot of people turn to Artifcts as they prepare to move, relocate, and/or downsize. People are Artifcting items that have sentimental value but either no functional value or not enough space in their new home to make the cut. They keep the memories safe in Artifcts while parting with the 'stuff,' saving them moving costs and precious square footage.

Access our downsizing, moving, and organizing tips here.

The pictured Artifcts below were shared with us by an Arti Community member who is in the midst of his downsizing journey. Click the propeller to view the Artifct.

Artifct of Propellers from Art Arfons' Garage Artifct of Budejovicky Shred Bucket Artifct of 1978 Battlestar Galactica Action Toy

So much better than a baby book.

For our final tip today, we turn to several of our youngest 20-something Arti Community members who have told us that they use Artifcts to capture what they may otherwise forget - a bouquet from a recital, original artwork, that college acceptance letter, and more. Forgetting is not about being a specific age. Life's busy and disorganized. We all forget!

One of our members told us that she wishes her mother had Artifcts when she was younger so she'd have a virtual baby book of all her firsts and special moments. In her words, "Artifct when you're still young so you have a lifetime of memories when you're older."

Below is a snapshot of an Artifct created by our co-founder Ellen related to her high school graduation. One Artifct can cover a lot of ground!

Artifct of Wrightstown High School Graduation materials
 

Happy Artifcting!

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© 2022 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
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Five Lessons From Artifcting With My Mother

I recently spent a few days back home in rural Wisconsin Artifcting with my mother. And guess what, we're still on speaking terms! I’m not a minimalist, but I do like to keep control of how much stuff is in my small home. Otherwise, I feel like it just zaps my mental energy. My mom is more sentimental and tends to hold onto things “just in case” so our styles can … clash. (Or at least seem to. Read a-ll the way to the end.)

Living in a 100+ year old farmhouse for the last 40+ years means that my parents have had a lot of time to accumulate and collect a delightful array of 'stuff.' As I'd hold up another object, open another drawer, or pull out still more boxes, the common refrain from my mother was, "I just set that aside to deal with another time." Sound familiar?

As a business owner and an adult child (and now parent myself), you can imagine I took a lot of mental notes along the way as we Artifcted together. I asked my mom for her notes, too, and am sharing our combined insights here to help you as you organize, declutter, downsize, or simply take a pause to reminisce and Artifct along the way. 

Two quick points before we dive in. For context, my mom did not have items pulled out ready to Artifct, because my visit was a surprise. I had a list I wanted to ask about – and we did work through it! – but we started working in my parents’ old bedroom, which they now use for storage. We had plenty of boxes, bags, closets, cedar chests and more to work with. Also, we Artifcted on mobile, iPad, and laptop to find the format that my mom liked best. Verdict: iPad.  

handwritten list of objects on notepad

Lesson #1. Know your goal.

My parents are not moving anytime soon. And the two of them occupy very little square footage in their home. There is no immediate need to get rid of anything. So, what then was our goal? Honestly, I wanted to start to become a bit more aware of which objects in my parents’ home had hidden meaning to them. My dad was more interested in a bit of clean out. My mom just wanted to spend time together, Artifcting. She said, “It’s fun to enjoy the process and remember along the way. You have to think, 'Hmm, why did I keep this thing?'” What this meant then was that as long as we created a few Artifcts together and had some recycling, trash, and donations to show for our time, we would please everyone. 

What and how much you want to Artifct is a key question, too, for us when the Artifcts team works in person with people through our concierge services. That way, everyone is pleased to have met mutually agreed goals. 

Lesson #2. Is anything off limits? 

I think by virtue of having moved so many times as an adult and living in a small house with an open floor plan with very little storage, there’s really nothing off limits in my home. My mom was more anxious about me digging into cedar chests, boxes, and paperwork without her first going through it. She wasn’t even sure what she had or what I would trip over, and she wanted to make the discovery first. Totally fine! We found a system so she could see or speak to an item first and then I’d help organize items for Artifcting, giving to another family member (usually one of my siblings), disposing, donating, or otherwise rehoming. 

Lesson #3. Take breaks to photograph. 

We wanted to get through large amounts of ‘stuff,’ but we also wanted to put things where they belonged to keep our working space clear. So, we’d take breaks to photograph items we wanted to Artifct later. These photo breaks were nice stress relievers, too, because sorting through so much can be a bit tiring and emotionally straining as you are washed by wave after wave of nostalgia. We’d also grab coffee and a snack during this break. 

Lesson #4. If you’re together, get the full story. 

Time is the devil. We all know this, but we like to ignore it. My brother was out of town, but I had my parents, my sister, and extended family (just an email or text message away) to help fill in the blanks about the history or backstory of photos and items we came across. We used these family resources then and there, sometimes even recording video or audio of the funnier or sappier stories on the fly (Check out tips for audio & video in our FAQs!), to capture what we could.

Sometimes we were unsuccessful in that the long history – “Who gave this to you, and when?” – was lost already but the current history – “I’ve just always loved this pin,” or “My sister gave it to me for a gift at some point,” – was a compelling reason in and of itself to Artifct an item and revealed my mom's why (as in, why did she still have this item anyway). 

Vintage flower pin with gold trim  vintage red floral apron with wooden handled wire pastry blender

Click either image to view the related Artifct!

Lesson #5. Glad I asked! 

Some 'stuff' really is just stuff. No great story or history attached. At least you won’t have to wonder and stress about it one day if your friend or family member is no longer here and you are helping to disperse the estate. That chest of drawers you think is interesting? Those old matching sweatshirts? They look cool and served a purpose, but they have no remarkable stories. Totally fine. Keep and use or move along to someone else who will. No guilt! (Side note: My mom wasn't interested in the sweatshirts anymore, but I was and even had my own story to layer on top of them!)

Chicago paper company two-drawer cabinet     Vintage matching sweatshirts for Jimmy and Ding Dong

When I returned to Austin and took a look around my home, I had an ah-ha moment that would surely make my mother feel vindicated because as it turns out our styles do not clash as much as it may seem.

When she insisted on keeping multiple bags of old blankets because, "They're wool and could someday make good quilt lining," I took a breath and moved on but was frustrated. I was thinking that surely at 70+ years old my mom has a good idea whether quilting will actually be a part of her future, even if she lives to 100.

And, yet, I admit, I have bins in my attic with undergrad and grad school papers and books. Why? I always think, "What if I decide to teach?" you know, become a "professor of practice." Thing is, even if I did, would I really go back to these papers? And if that were remotely useful, why not just scan them and file neatly with a backup in the cloud. Okay, okay, Mom, keep your ratty old wool blankets. 

Now, everyone, if you get nothing else from this tale, remember, these Artifcts are for you. So, enjoy. Find the pace and process that works for you!

Happy Artifcting (with Mom)! 

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© 2022 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Latest Features and Improvements | March 2022

We’ve got great updates for you!

As we continue to welcome new people to the Arti Community, we’ve received valuable feedback about how you’re using Artifcts in your day-to-day lives and what new features and refinements would help you as you Artifct. We’re excited to share with you a few of the latest updates to your Artifcts experience. 

Options to personalize Artifcts 

Bubbling to the top of recent requests from the Arti Community was the option to add a background image to your personal Artifcts galleries. Some members also wanted to easily share these galleries and some “About me” information. 

Done! Now when you visit My Artifcts you’ll see a pencil icon indicating you can personalize the space. You will be seamlessly redirected to your Account Settings to add a banner and “About me” text. 

In addition, you’ll notice a new icon to access your personal QR code that when scanned leads people to your Artifcts gallery. Add it to a business card, social media profile, certificate of authenticity on your creations, and more! 

To learn more about getting started, visit our FAQs.   

Artifcts gallery page personalized with banner and text

Search got an upgrade 

Our new search engine will return even better, more relevant results. You can even now search according to screen names, e.g. searching @heather or @egoody will show you what our founders have Artifcted lately. 

Bonus! When you’re signed in, you’ll see your recent searches and viewed Artifcts directly in the search bar at the top of the website. 

And remember, on any Artifct, click a tag or category to immediately view other Artifcts according to that theme. 

Test it out with this search for #LeaveNoTrace Artifcts that honor our natural national treasures. 

New drop down menu from search field featuring recent searches and viewed Artifcts

New sharing options 

You can now share and manage access to each of your Artifcts directly from the privacy icon displayed on each Artifct. No need to go in and edit your Artifct. 

Want to share an Artifct to social media? You can also now easily toggle the Artifct to Public from the sharing pop up and continue to share as you please! 

For simplicity, you can always grant ‘View’ access to your Artifcts automatically from your Account Settings > Security & Longevity tab. This feature now applies automatically to all of your Artifcts, but you can opt out as you add new people to only give them access to future Artifcts, if you prefer. 

Try sharing one of your Artifcts privately or publicly. Or visit your Account Settings to give someone ‘View’ access to your Artifcts collection automatically! (You can always change your mind!)

         

Reorder your files to flow with your story 

Make it easier on yourself and others to view the photos, videos, and audio files that go along with your Artifct description or story. Simply click and drag to reorder them as you please!  

Your cover photo does not need to be first. We usually choose a cover photo that’s most beautiful or compelling! 

Try now by editing an Artifct in your collection! Sign in on Artifcts. Or create a new Artifct. 

We'd love your feedback, always. You can contact us at Hello@Artifcts.com.

Happy Artifcting!

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© 2022 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Rescue Mission: That's more than a photo! Artifct that.

I'm a gregarious person by nature. So, when I'd visit home during undergrad and chatter away about economics and business, it was somewhat disappointing to be met with polite disinterest. My siblings went to a private art school. Surprise, surprise, their stories, supported with paintings, sketches, and designs, were far more captivating.

I imagine historians and genealogists must suffer a similar reception as they try to get others excited about newly discovered ship passenger manifests or wedding announcements from obscure 19th century newspapers. Black and white details with no life behind them, no immediate relevance to embrace. 

Recently, however, I've come to appreciate how even seemingly random photos can provide the spark connecting us to each other, to histories, to futures unknown, if given the opportunity. The ice hiker shown above? He might be a lost cause. A researcher could find an explorers club to assist, trace the clothing, authenticate the age of the paper maybe? We've had more luck with personal photos and histories of late at Artifcts. In fact, if you've read Our Story, you've seen a black and white photo of woman who in some ways is the silent third founder of Artifcts.

 

Artifcts co-founder Heather Nickerson's mother

 
 
 

The photo grabs you. Who is she? What (or who) is she looking at that is making her smile? Who took the picture? When was this picture taken and where? Truth is, her end-of-life was the inspiration for Artifcts and our efforts to remove so much of the potential burden from our loved ones who are left to parse through our belongings after we're gone. Instead, through Artifcts you can pass along memories, heritage, and legacy, and not just 'stuff.' Not a mere photograph, but a history. You can read about that very photo's history here.

When you can, you should just ASK!

Here's a second photo that captures my interest in the same way, sparking the same questions. And, I wonder: If someone sold a framed photo like this through an estate sale, consignment shop, or flea market, would it captivate a curious, anonymous buyer? It could just as easily fit into the decor of a modern home as one with a farmhouse chic decor or even a cozier older style. 

Co-founder Ellen Goodwin's mother

 
 
 

I found this framed portrait buried in an unused bedroom at my parents' home. My mom was instantly recognizable to me, but I could not guess her age or anything else about the photograph. I had to ask her. Turns out, one of her older brothers was dabbling in photography and asked her to sit for a portrait. Now I'm plotting a rescue mission from the obscurity of that bedroom in Wisconsin to my home in Texas where I can enjoy this unique glimpse of my mom in her youth.

I bet you have photos like these in your own family, many probably with as yet undecided fates. Yes, museums, artists, and others sometimes buy them in bulk. But we're eager to help you all to capture that history before it slips away.

Artifct a few choice photosyour favorites, the most outrageous, or maybe the ones that make you go, "Hmmm." You can easily share your Artifcts with friends and family to meaningfully connect and reconnect over (nearly!) lost pasts and new stories shared for more "I never knew that about you!" moments now and into the future.

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If you are interested in photo and/or video digitization services, maybe our Partners can help! Learn more here.

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© 2022 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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