A few weeks ago I was having a hard time trying to articulate my thoughts for a project that I’m doing when Richard came to the rescue by whipping out some little yellow cards from his creative arsenal.
There are two things you need to know about Artefact cards: they are expensive but indispensable. They are credit card sized cards which are yellow on one side and white on the other. You can write on both sides of them and they come with a Sharpie pen as those seem to be the only pen that works with them. Those pens smell good.
They come with an instruction manual with suggestions of how you might use them.
Since I got my own set, I have used them more or less daily. I’ve been using them for anything I’d normally use a Post-it note for. I find Post-it notes eminently unsatisfying: they are not sticky enough to stick to a wall for more than thirty seconds but are sticky enough to collect bits of crap on. They are flimsy and impermanent and curl up annoyingly. Artefact cards on the other hand are sturdy and permanent, glossy and wonderfully tactile. And most importantly, you can shuffle them like a deck of cards and slide them around the table like a magician and so it is easy to try out your ideas in different combinations.
I have used these a few times at work now to illustrate my thinking and whenever I pull them out people are agog and curious. I see people eyeing them up like Golem with that stupid ring. I even had one woman ask if she could take my ‘presentation’ away with her. Which just illustrates what I’ve always known, that people who work in banks are starved of creativity and will grab it greedily with both hands whenever it crosses their paths. Especially when it’s such a perfect concoction of creativity and organisational geekery.
I have a set of cards stuck on the wall by my bed with washi tape. I have one card for each project or commitment that I’m working on (11 currently, ugh). Each night when I go to bed I have a cursory look to see if there is anything that is slipping, anything that needs attention, and I rearrange them. I find this works really well for me and helps to seal some ideas in brain to percolate overnight. It’s definitely helped me focus.
They are brilliant to use as as shopping lists and, because they they are credit card sized, they fit neatly in your wallet.
I’ve used them to knock up some ideas for wedding invitations to give to Gemma. (I know that’s only half an announcement, more on this soon.)
Arthur’s written some ideas of what one can use them for. To be honest I’m not convinced.
Something about these cute little cards makes work more creatively. I’ve found myself drawing shopping maps rather than writing lists, using more squiggles and doodles to make notes rather than just writing. When I started using them I only used the white sides. It felt wrong to use the yellow side which just shows how hard I have to work to undo the left brain supremacy I have gained after fifteen years of indoctrination from the financial services industry.
I am totally and utterly smitten with these cards and am finding new ways to use them every day. They retail at £18.50 for two boxes (including the Sharpie) and I was originally going to write that they’re too dear but actually, there are 90 cards in each box so it they work out around ten pence per card. I’ve had them a month and have used them in anger and haven’t even got half way through one box yet so I think they will last a long time.
You can buy them at the Smithery online shop, where you can also find lots of new creative ideas for how to use them.