How did you think you'd use the cards?
I wasn't sure.
I was interested to see if they would bring me anything beyond my staple combination of pen & notebook + Evernote. As it turned out, they did.
How did you actually use them?
When I'm working I have lots of reference material collected between my notebooks and Evernote. The advantage of a lot of material is that you have loads of combinations to play with and more routes into what you're doing. The disadvantage is that amount of information can get unwieldy. Once I've collected the source material, I like to let it settle for a while before coming back and drawing out the key elements as I see them.
My work is varied, but whatever I'm doing, this method has always served me well. It's at this stage that I first found Artefact useful - sifting through notes and ideas I'd gathered elsewhere, picking out the shiny fragments and getting them down on a card. Artefact has added an extra dimension that makes it more useful and enjoyable.
The limited space on the cards and the limited supply make you consider what you're going to write on them. This demands you consolidate your idea, or at least each fragment, before committing it to paper. You're forced to express things in a concise and coherent way, capturing the essence of the idea.
Have they changed the way you do anything?
Yes, and in quite a surprising way.
In a practical sense, the cards provide a bridge between notes and the realisation of the idea. The most striking benefit Artefact gave me was something I didn't foresee. Strange as it sounds, ideas feel real when they make it on to the cards. You can literally get hold of them. Giving tangible reality to things that had only existed in the mind (or notebook) is really exciting and feels like significant progress when it happens. Artefact makes your ideas physical. Very cool indeed.
So far I've used Artefact to help plan and design the content and structure of a website, the copy for an ad, a direct mail piece, and while building a communications strategy. During each of these, Artefact helped me spot significant ideas and consolidate the fundamental elements. The process of transferring ideas to the cards often provoked a flurry of new thoughts that went on to play a significant part in the work created.
How have you described them to others?
I haven't really, I guess I've alluded to some of the things I've mentioned here in conversation, but I've mostly used them by myself. Having said that, I'm glad I didn't read too much about how other people using them before I'd tried them - it's nice to find your own way.
Any final thoughts?
For me, Artefact is the perfect next step after my notebooks and Evernote. I use Artefact to help discover the good stuff lurking in my notes and as a method of distilling it to create the finished work. It's great to step away from the computer and get involved with your hands - true digital technology. I love the way you can carry them around and the fact they are actually a lovely item is important too. Using nice stuff just feels better.