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Artifcts & Painful Life Events Like Cancer

April 01, 2024

Reading time: 5 minutes

Life is life: A mixed bag of good and bad, amazing and terrible. We all know this and that each of these types of events shapes us. But what about these life events and your learnings from them do you want to remember and maybe even share?

In the context of cancer, we’ve walked through challenging times with some of our Arti Community members. Their life experiences have given us a window into how Artifcting can support those directly affected by cancer including the patients and the family and friends.  

Today we are sharing four examples of how Arti community members* have used Artifcting along their cancer journeys to inspire you or a loved one as you lean on Artifcts to help you through and beyond.

* Names and personal details are changed to protect the privacy of those who have shared with us.  

Margie: Decades Ago

Flower bouquets and messages of support.

When Margie joined Artifcts, she started Artifcting by going category by category through her home. One day she’d Artifct jewelry, another travel mementos, next family photographs and bibles, and so on. Artifcting quickly became a life habit. She Artifcts gifts, new to her antiques she purchases on outings with her friends, and so on.

One day back in January, while browsing through her old photos and sorting out those she wanted to Artifct the stories behind, she came across several of flower bouquets from more than a decade ago. She remembered. Each bouquet was an expression of support and sympathy as she went through treatment for breast cancer.

“I wanted to remember. It’s a wonder who shows up in these difficult moments,” said Margie.  

Bright mixed flower bouquet 

Message inside: "Thinking of you makes me think of sunny blooms."

Steve: There’s Only Today

Every pivotal life moment and framed reminder. Go!

Learning you have an inoperable tumor is a sobering moment. Everything you have dreamt for yourself for your days and years ahead is immediately vulnerable. Steve spent the first weeks of his partial diagnosis taking up Artifcting. He’d always thought Artifcts was a brilliant idea, but as years passed, he had yet to take the step to begin.

“When you realize tomorrow really might not come, priorities change.”

He Artifcted every day for weeks. He started with the present and worked backwards through time – his professional career, the lives and births of his children, his first home, university and high school days, and his own youngest years. He created all his Artifcts using photos he had easily at hand on his phone and in cloud storage. His Artifcts were brutally honest and often humorous, full of color and personality. Almost nothing he Artifcted was an item of value. 

The day came when the inoperable tumor became operable, there was simply no other choice. After a successful surgery, Steve turned to Artifcting his most financially valuable items and designating his future plans for each using the “In the Future” field in each Artifct. He’d come full circle from wanting his loved ones to know HIM to wanting to take the burden off of them, letting them know what to do with all his “stuff” someday, hopefully many years from now.

Corinne: The End is Near

Personal insights and family experiences captured in photos and mementos.

It’s human nature to want to be seen and heard, known for who you are, and remembered. Corinne had lived a full life, one that included a husband, children, multiple careers, and years of travel around the world, practically no corner unexplored. Twice she had been diagnosed with cancer. Twice she had survived.

This time was different.  

Her life-long best friend, who was retired, moved in with Corinne and her husband to help provide full-time care and to spend her final weeks together. Corinne, a professional writer, had one last goal to accomplish: a memoir. But how best to rapidly sum up a life and all the insights, lessons, and more she wanted to share with her children, grandchildren, and others? 

“I had already started to Artifct. My collection started with a few trips I took and blossomed from there. Now I knew it was time to start filling in the gaps. I set up tags I wanted to use to organize chapters and themes, and I got to it. Many Artifcts didn’t have any photos of items to start. I just recorded an audio or video to set the scene for the Artifct. [My friend] helped me to take and add photos and to search my files for originals I wanted to include. I want this memoir to be more than a book. I want it to be as full of life as my life truly was and be my thanks to them all for making it so special.”  

An Artifct with photo from Kenya

When writing memoirs, more often than not, travel will make an appearance. Click the image to view an example from our co-founder Ellen.

Ellen: Lest I Forget

The ins and outs of my cancer journey.

Okay, the name on this one is not changed, this is me, co-founder of Artifcts. I didn’t create any Artifcts about my cancer in the first months after my diagnosis. I had no compulsion to immediately because I had already Artifcted everything I valued most in my home, attic to desk drawer. I didn’t know what I wanted to Artifct about my cancer itself. It was all too raw and uncertain, to be honest.

Eventually I did create Artifcts about my cancer, but only after my surgery. The first was an Artifct with flowers, gifts, and cards. It was about the objects, mostly impermanent, as much as remembering how remarkable and humbling the outpouring of support was in those hard days. And the support came from tried-and-true friends of 35+ years and brand-new friends of no more than a week or two.

My second Artifct was in essence a journal. I don’t keep a journal or a diary. But in the months when I was not Artifcting, I was keeping a Word document by date full of the details of my appointments, thoughts, and experiences. I wrote it because I knew how easily I’d forget the details and emotions as time passed. And I wanted to be able to look back and remember so that if I ever met others going through a similar experience, I’d have my own personal experience to look back on.

Three Artifcts in a row, each about cancer

These Artifcts are private, but shared with Ellen's husband and daughter.


No matter the painful life twists you’re facing, from disease to divorce to loss, we hope Artifcts can help bring you peace of mind and help you to relive and capture the moments you value most, one object, one photo, one "thing" at a time.


© 2024 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Collection Management Made Easy and Meaningful  

Artifcts thanks Sarah Reeder, Artifactual History Appraisal, for her contributions to the following article.

Reading time: 4 minutes

You may have one or many collections, intentional collections and accidental collections. Part of the fun of collecting is keeping track of it: Knowing what you have and what you’re still hunting for, what is sentimental vs. valuable, and what is okay to sell some day versus you’d prefer to pass down to someone special.

Short checklist about collections

We know a thing or to about accidental collections. Try out our free checklist available here.

If you were a professional archivist, librarian, or appraiser, you’d have a ready tool in your pocket to help manage your collections. It’s called a finding aid. But guess what? As you Artifct your collections, you are implicitly leveraging the best of finding aids, but in a friendly form that all can enjoy and benefit from. 

Here’s your peek inside the world of archivists where we show you how finding aids and collection management are made easy and meaningful with Artifcts!

What Is a Finding Aid, and Why Should You Care?

Unless you are a collections professional (archivist, librarian, appraiser…), the concept of a finding aid is likely foreign to you. For the longest time at Artifcts we even mistakenly referred to them as finding keys. Oops!

A finding aid is exactly what it sounds like: A tool that helps you locate items within a large collection in a fast and efficient way. A finding aid is a guide that describes the contents of an archival collection. A well-designed finding aid makes quick work of determining the topical relevance of any collection. After all, what good is a collection if discoverability hinders locating and using elements within the collection in the future.

Many of us have experienced the feelings of dread and being overwhelmed upon contemplating many boxes of inherited items that probably have something important contained in them but what and where? Imagine if you had a finding aid that told you exactly what was important and where you could locate it!

This is the magic of what finding aids do.

To a large degree, information within a finding aid is standardized per guidelines from the Society of American Archivists, “Describing Archives: A Content Standard,” better known simply as DACS. Standardization means a professional could work with or for any gallery, library, archive, or museum (aka GLAM) and their collections without much difficulty. They might simply display the information differently than one’s accustomed to.

A finding aid would have information such as: reference code, title, date, extent, name of creator, description, dates, and location. Does that list look familiar? If you Artifct, it should… 

For those of us who didn’t go to Library Science school, in our daily lives we probably do not want to think about taxonomies, metadata, bytes of storage, or even finding aids. We want to enjoy and share the meaning behind the items we’ve collected and ensure the stories and value behind them live on!

Enter Artifcts: Solving Age Old Problems of Finding Aids for Every-Day Collectors 

What we created at Artifcts is the solution to several age-old problems of finding aids in an individual and family-friendly fashion. And this means great things for you all!  While finding aids are brilliant tools for professionals, they are disconnected from how most of us describe and catalog the ‘why’ of our collections. We need more multitasking support in our lives.

Here’s how you can use Artifcts to preserve the history and the value of your collections beyond the constraints of traditional finding aids.

Use those QR codes.

If you were to work with a professional appraiser, archivist, or collections manager of any type, they will likely offer as part of their services a description of the collection and list organizing the inventory within your collection, a finding aid of some sort. But how do you link that list to your physical collection? At Artifcts, you can print a QR code or use Artifcts QR code stickers to link the physical and the digital.

music box with Artifcts QR code on the bottom of the base

An Artifcts QR code unlocks the story and value!

Record your stories.

Move beyond “scope notes” and “meta data” inherent to the archivist’s expertise – “This is a 19th-century {name of item}” – and breathe life, context, and personal meaning into the objects in your collection, e.g. “This is what Great Great Grandma brought from France when she moved to New York. And I’m giving it to you now.”  

Artifcts offers the options to share your story, indicate what you want to do with items in the future, and supply critical other information like where on earth you’ve stored the item in your home or elsewhere and the supporting documents (receipts, appraisals, and more). 

Connect the dots.

We typically describe each Artifct you create as connecting the dots, because only you know how photos of those specific items relate to shape a story or history. But we help you go a step further, too. You can use our @ feature to cross reference one Artifct with another, tying together pieces of a collection and pieces of a story that others may not otherwise realize relate.  

Description field on Artifcts with menu open showing options for linking with @

Simply type @ as you add the story or description to your Artifct to link to other Artifcts.

Leverage your community.

Let’s not forget the value in sharing and collaboration to learn more about items in your collections. Through Artifcts Circles and the option to give ‘Edit’ permission to other paid Artifcts members, you can crowdsource information from your loved ones and experts alike to capture important details about your collections that may add historical and family history information as well as increase the value, too. 

Preserve what is.

Add the photos, videos, and original documents you have to your Artifcts. There’s a spot dedicated to securely preserve each as is. No compression. No conversion. What you upload is what you can always download again, too.

In our spring 2024 series finale of Evenings with Artifcts, our expert guests shed light on the 'why' and 'what' of collections.

Ensure that if you work with an appraiser or other collections manager in the future, they provide documentary support through Artifcts, so that you can protect and share the value of your collections with friends and family as well as knock off those “to dos” with your insurance company, financial planner, and estate attorney. 


You may also be interested in these ARTIcles by Artifcts:

What to Consider When You Plan to Donate Art and Other Collectibles

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

Everything You Wanted to Know About Appraisals but Were Afraid to Ask

How to Artifct that Collection

© 2024 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Artifcts® Platform Now Supports Publishing to Custom-Designed Books with Partner Akin

Whether you think about photo books as unique and personalized gifts or dream of publishing a life memoir, we love our books! Today Artifcts announced a new partnership with Akin ( to offer simple, custom designed books to Arti Community members who wish to publish their Artifcts to books. 

You need only look at the explosive growth of photo book companies to support everything from build-your-own to instant print from Instagram or your phone to know how much we love to have and to hold books. 

Together, Artifcts and Akin have made it simple and affordable to publish a custom-designed, premium quality, personalized book of your Artifcts.  

“Not everyone enjoys spending hours combing through photos, uploading them into software, stressing over layouts, colors, and font choices,” commented Artifcts Co-founder Ellen Goodwin. “Our partnership with Akin means you can simply choose the Artifcts you want to publish, share them privately with Akin, and they’ll lay out the book in the template of your choice and ship it off to you! The whole process for our members takes minutes!” 

Artifcts excels in innovation that places the needs of its Arti Community members first. People expect to share their stories with meaningful context that includes photos, audio, and video. Artifcts has ensured this promise translates to printed books, too. Unlike a standard photo book, for every Artifct you publish, you can include a QR code that allows the viewer to scan and access additional photos and video tied to the story. Your book can come alive. 

“We don’t want our members to worry about the book creation process. We want people to enjoy spending time reliving their stories, and recording what they value most,” said Artifcts Co-founder Heather Nickerson. 

For more information, visit Concierge & Other Professional Services or review the FAQs available at 


© 2024 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 

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Not Sure What to Write? Tips from Author Jeff Greenwald

He's authored 1000s of articles, several books, and what's maybe the first known travel blog. And during the Fall 2022 series of 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.


© 2024 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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