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Preserving Your Best Travel Memories

Rainer Jenss, Founder, Smart Family Travel
June 01, 2022

As co-founders, Ellen and I are always meeting interesting people at Artifcts. We were very fortunate to be introduced this spring to Rainer Jenss, founder of the Family Travel Association, former senior executive with National Geographic, and an avid traveler. We loved talking with Rainer so much that we invited him to be our first guest author at ARTIcles. Read on to learn more about his story and experience using Artifcts to remember his May 2022 travels in Africa.

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My wife Carol and I recently returned from a vacation we took to Africa with 25 other people, most of whom we’d never met before, but all who had some kind of connection to the tour’s organizers, Henry and Claire Kartagener. In my case, I’ve worked in the travel industry with Henry Kartagener for years. He’s also been directly responsible for getting Carol and me to Southern Africa several times already, including our first visit back in 1992 that took us on a safari during which we actually ended up getting engaged. Thirty years later, we found ourselves returning yet again, but this time as part of a “Friends of Henry” contingent, some of whom had been to the continent before, many of whom had not.

As I’ve noticed on other trips we’ve been on as part of a group, conversations between people often turn to sharing travel stories. Some just recount something that happened that day, while others recall experiences from previous adventures. It’s as though the act of sharing travel memories with others somehow reinforces their meaning – and all the while, hopefully inspiring those who are listening.

It’s as though the act of sharing travel memories with others somehow reinforces their meaning...

I can relate. For me personally the tales from my life’s adventures traversing the planet and displaying some of the things I picked up along the way represent some of my favorite memories and what I’m most fond of in my life. I think we all probably feel that way in some way no matter how much of the world we’ve traveled. Either way, this idea only strengthens my conviction that traveling is one of the most important things we can do in our lives.

...Travelling is one of the most important things we can do in our lives.

Taking it a step further, if I were asked to recall what our conversations were about, I’d say they usually revolved around the things most of us do while traveling, which include (in no particular order): visiting new places, trying new things, meeting new people, buying souvenirs, and of course, sharing pictures. In fact, it would be pretty easy to argue that thanks to the advances in cellphone technology, capturing and sharing the highlights of our journeys through pictures, whether they be bucket list vacations or just weekend getaways, seems to be the most common activity we almost all now seem to engage in.

 

Victoria falls at sunriseVictoria Falls at sunrise. Click the photo to view the Artifct.

But while putting our best-looking pictures on social media has become such an integral part of what we do while traveling, we usually do so without telling the broader stories behind the images we post. Sure, the photos themselves may look great and often make those we share them with envious. But on their own, they rarely capture why the person took it or what it means to them personally.

 

The king protea, national flower of South AfricaThe national flora of South Africa is the King Protea, symbolizing diversity, change and courage.

After recently having discovered Artifcts, I’ve found that it’s now possible to not only preserve and organize the special moments from my travels, I can now do so by also documenting the stories behind them. The very same stories I just might share with fellow travelers somewhere down the road.

Which brings us to what happened when I returned home after spending more than two weeks in Africa with 25 of my new best friends. As usual, I had 100s of images to sort through and edit. But this time, I did so with a different purpose and perspective. Sure, I still tried to pick out the ones that were the most visually compelling. But this time I made sure to set aside some photos of things I usually wouldn’t display in an album or share on social media. Instead, I paid special attention to the photos and videos of those things that best told the story of our trip. Best of all, I used the Artifcts I created to produce a virtual album I shared with those I spent my vacation with. For the purpose of this story, I’ve also made it available to the public in hopes it might inspire others to give it a try. Just go to my Artifcts page to check it out.

Happy Trails . . . and Happy Artifcting!

- Rainer Jenss

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© 2022 Artifcts, Inc.

What's New at Artifcts
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.

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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.

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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.

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