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Mapmaker, Mapmaker, Make Me a Map

Ellen Goodwin, Artifcts
April 27, 2022

Not all maps are created equal, I think on this point we will all soon agree!

Stepping into my converstaion with mapmaker Ken Czarnomski, I thought he was an artist, specializing in maps. And not just any maps. Maps accurate according to GPS, but also humanized by way of incorporating natural landmarks, informal trails (human and animal), and remarkable vistas.

But Ken instead considers himself a “broad stroke naturalist”—meaning that he knows enough to get himself into trouble, so to speak, but is not a specialist in any particular species (insects, grasses, flowers, etc.)—who happens to make maps. Ken borrows from his background in architecture and his learnings in natural sciences to consider for each map he designs what would appeal and engage regular people like us.

The truth is that Ken's maps mean a healthy life for him, too. “If I can’t hike one day, I can still go in, even if at a shuffle rate.” The region of Western North Carolina where Ken resides outside Waynesville makes this statement all the more practical, because the Smoky Mountains are ranked as the most biodiverse in the United States. With over 1,900 species in just a quarter mile stretch, a person can encounter 30 and even upwards of 50 unique species of flowering plants.

That’s lucky since the “what” people are interested in is always a surprise to Ken. For some, it might be flowers. Others may only want to learn more about the trees. Still others are there to learn about mushrooms or salamanders. Western North Carolina accommodates!

And just where did his artistic talents spring from? Ken shared with us that before he developed his cartography skills, he painted. He preferred organic natural themes in watercolor and ink. His largest work was usually 24" x 36," but he has smaller works in sketch pad size. Sometimes he would produce and sell his watercolors while traveling. His passion for art and fieldwork, in fact, used to make him late routinely for his university classes. Tsk, Tsk!

Birth of a Mountain painting from 1969

Later, as Ken turned from his formal career as an architect, his global explorations brought him into the world of maps. Hiking in Ireland back country in 2012, local park rangers and ecologists kept pulling him off course to see areas beyond the usual tourist haunts, and he found himself thinking, “Wouldn't it be great if others had access to the data that could safely lead them to see the world beyond the usual?” So, Ken took a fresh look, with an open mind, at how he could make this happen in the area where he lived, and his first map was born.

 

Just pause a moment and think about the map shown belown. It’s functional and beautiful. Now think about the type of maps you might be more accustomed to when you stay at a resort or hotel or rely on generic maps on your GPS. It’s functional - surely you won’t get lost. But does it grab your attention, invoke curiosity, and invite exploration?

Illustrated map of the Swag, with vignettes of related scenery The Swag, Google Maps street view

Ken’s maps take weeks to layout and still more to illustrate, even with his use of software tools for data and design. Just take a close look at the vignettes embedded in the maps and you’ll understand - there is so much to enjoy!

Painting of the Great Smoky Mountain Elk     Painting of a Summer Garden

Click a vingette to view its Artifct

For each map, Ken goes out to first experience the site and engage with local environmentalists who might guide him to a location or sketch out important features to explore. How else can he produce an experience in 2D that’s not only beautiful, but also savvier than a simple machine or Google Map?

At the end of the day, you might guess correctly, this is a work of passion. Ken’s lucky in this work and plans to continue it for years to come. “I guarantee I’m never bored. I’m always seeing something new."

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© 2022 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

What's New at Artifcts
Latest Features and Improvements | Sept. 2022

You’ve started an Artifcts collection. You know stuff and stories go better together! Now what?

Artifcts already take your stories and memories beyond anything you can do with traditional photos, inventory lists, or social media. Now we have released a set of new features we hope will make it still easier to bring families, friends, and stories together across time and distance.

But First... Remember Networks?

Earlier this summer we introduced Artifcts networks so that you could easily import your contacts from your email or add individuals one by one to create a network and make sharing easier. You also gained one-click access to 'Invite' others to join you at Artifcts free and share in the Artifcting experience.
If you haven't created an Artifcts network yet, we encourage you to start building yours now (or click to learn more >) so you can easily take full advantage of all these new features!


Introducing Sharing Lists and Invite-Only Circles

Now your Artifcts networks can also help you instantly share Artifcts with lists of people and form invite-only circles. Why would you create lists and circles? Save time, connect easily and privately with all the people you want to, and gain access to more Artifcts you care about no matter who has them and where. 

SHARING LISTS

Lists save you the step of sharing an Artifct with each of your nearest and dearest over and over again as you build your collection. Simply create a list, choose it when you share, and each person on the list will instantly receive your Artifct in their inbox. Popular sharing lists among our early testing group included: immediate family, neighbors, friends from school, colleagues, and travel pals. 

INVITE-ONLY CIRCLES

Think of circles like group chats, but here your language is objects, photos, recipes ... and their stories! Anyone you invite into the circle can share Artifcts with the circle for all circle members to enjoy. The sky is the limit: train car collectors group, ceramic artists network, church groups, quilting circles, virtual family reunions, and more.

And, as always, list and circle members only need to have a free Artifcts membership to view Artifcts you share!

Pop up form to create a list or circleCreate your first sharing list or circle >

Another New, Powerful Feature: @ Mentions

The joy of each Artifct you create is that it is so much more than a photo with a caption, scrapbook, or video. Each Artifct weaves together any combination of photos, video, audio, text, and documents in one place to give more color and meaning (and usefulness!). 

Simply type @ as you write your Artifct 'Description,' and you will be able to select from people, other Artifcts, sharing lists, and circles to link into the story, historic account, or (maybe) tall tale. Learn how to use this feature on our YouTube channel. 

Pennant banner navy blue and yellow with phrase Oh Whale

Check out the "Cape Cod Whale Tale" >

Reorder Artifcts to Shape Your Story

Did you know that the singer Adele required Spotify not "shuffle" the songs on her newest album, ensuring the playlist mirrored the curated sequence on her album? She tweeted in part: “We don’t create albums with so much care and thought into our track listing for no reason. Our art tells a story and our stories should be listened to as we intended.”

While we don't "shuffle" your Artifcts, they do appear in the order you created them ... until now! If you feel the same as Adele, go ahead and customize the order in which your Artifcts appear, as co-founder Ellen Goodwin shows in this video on YouTube.

Change the position number or click and drag to reorder your Artifcts in the pop up

Change the position number or click and drag to reorder your Artifcts.

 Choose 'My Artifcts' and click 'Re-order' >
 

Artifcts' App Got an Upgrade

Find yourself scrolling back through your mobile device's photos in a trip down memory lane and wish you could instantly add a photo (or video or audio snippet - even a voice message!) to Artifcts? Now you can! 

With the photo you want to use selected, click the share button, and scroll through your apps to find the Artifcts app. If it's your first time choosing the Artifcts app, you might need to click "more" or a three dots (...) symbol to find the Artifcts app. Don't worry, your phone will learn to show the Artifcts app after you use it a few times.

That's all for now. 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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Gift Your Loved Ones a “Why”

Do not dismiss the power of answering the “Why?” Here are four of its superpowers: 

1. CONNECTION

If you are going to make your niece cart around a sitting Buddha sculpture for her remaining days as part of your last will and testament, you could at least tell her why!

Wills and estate plans by nature focus on the what and often neglect the why. And that’s if the will even references an itemized list of tangible assets! The reality then is loved ones may act out of obligation to respect your wishes and hang onto the items you give them but with a tinge of disgruntled acceptance. 

2. REDUCED CONFLICT

Imagine two people who feel equally attached to an object that once belonged to a deceased loved one. In the will, the object goes to one of those people. To squash any potential disappointment or misdirected anger at the recipient, the owner could share the why and explain the bond between the person and/or object and recipient. Closure, in this case, is another great gift of the why. 

3. LASTING MEMORIES & LEGACY

Your loved ones want to remember you. But memory is fickle. And sometimes, that's your own doing. Did you make up three different versions of events as to how that painting came into your collection? Did you ever tell the story? Set the record straight with any combination of photos, video, audio, and a brief (or long!) story as you Artifct the truth of that object. 

Your loved ones want to remember you. But memory is fickle.

4. BETTER PREPARATION

How many of you reading this have an up-to-date will or estate plan? Odds are you do not, at least according to a report from Caring.com, which said that two out of three US adults and half of UK adults do not have a will.  

Introducing items you cherish into your plan and/or at least into the discussion if you're working with a real live estate planning attorney helps to ensure that your assets will be directed to the correct people, your wishes carried out. It also helps the professionals you rely on to guide you to better understand you and support the full scope of your financial, insurance, tax, and estate plans. 

Join us tomorrow as we discuss these themes and more during Evenings with Artifcts, with guest speaker Dutch Miller. RSVP now > 

Happy Artifcting! 

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Did we miss a superpower of “why?” Let us know at Editor@Artifcts.com and we may feature your addition! 

© 2022 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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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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