First of all, I'd like to wish you all a very happy 2014 - I always love the feeling of sitting at the desk on the first day back with an entire year of opportunity ahead, and hope that you're feeling the same.
This year will be a big one for Artefact Cards - it's splitting off from being a Smithery side project to becoming a company in its own right, and there are all sorts of exciting developments ahead.
That's not to say that all Smithery links will be broken, of course. In fact, it's quite the opposite.
Every year part of my time with Smithery is dedicated to doing three in-house projects to explore a certain territory (Artefact was one of those projects in 2012), and this year that's going to be about Playing With Ideas.
I'll write up more detail on what that means over on the Smithery blog next week, but in short it's about further exploration of how introducing playful ways of using the cards in various work situations.
Towards the end of last year, I found myself in various situations where I was running large workshops for various types of people, and started to realise that I hadn't taken the playful nature of the cards far enough before.
By stealing a idea or two from other playful activities, often on the hoof, I saw that the quality and quantity of ideas that people could produce in a relatively short period of time benefitted greatly from the increased playfulness of the sessions.
Now, this isn't really news, per se, as books like Gamestorming by Dave Gray, Sunni Brown and James Macanufo show us. People have been using various games to improve they way they generate ideas for a while. If you've not read Gamestorming, then please do, as it's a brilliant collection of idea generation games collected from all sorts of different organisations.
What I'm more interested in doing is pushing the 'playfullness' as far as I possibly can. Too often, I wonder if people stop too soon at enjoying themselves too much, as work shouldn't feel like fun.
So where is the edge you can take people right up to, that border between work and play?
And what happens if you persuade them to jump over the edge?
The boundaries and outputs of the Play With Ideas project will last a year or so, and I'll define them more thoroughly over at Smithery too, but I'll also write up three games for playing with ideas I explored at the end of last year: Popular Thing for Broken Thing, Dialogic Dominoes, and The Awesome Game. This last one has emerged as a way of playing based on a top sekret prokect I've been working on for a client with Mr James Wallis, so I shall ask James to contribute to that last write-up too.
One of the other big things for Artefact Cards this year will be colour.
For a while now, we've been making short run special editions for various companies, courses and clients, and just before christmas Keith sent me over a box of the 'offcuts' - cards from the ends of various runs that I use myself.
The last workshop I ran in December was a small one with just four of us, but I gave everyone a different colour of card to work with, and it became apparent just how useful using different colours can be in the right circumstance.
So at some point soon, we shall start making a multi-coloured box, using the colours below:
If you're after a box of a different colour this month though, then I'd point you in the direction of the special limited edition box we're making for Tina Bernstein's brilliant giveaway this month, which you can read all about here.
Tina's been a brilliant supporter of Artefact Cards, but has always said to me that we had to do a vibrant pink at some point. So we're making up a special box using the pink Tina's chosen (Rhodamine Red) for the giveaway, but we're also offering them for sale this month too. As you'll see from the sleeve artwork belowm, it really is a fantastic colour, I can't wait to see them in real life.
They should be ready by mid-January, so don't mess about and get your orders in here - we're only doing a limited run.
That's it from me at the moment - there's more news coming soon on the Artefact App, and on a very special product we've been making with the lovely folks at Lichfield Leather.
Once again, Happy New Year, may it be fun, interesting and productive.