Artefact Cards Blog


Posted 9 January 2014 by

A new addition to the ever increasing army of cameras… a Logitech 930e on a gorrillapod tripod, for use as a portable desk projector for Artefact Cards.

A little brother to the desk camera.  First test run tomorrow.

JARVIS 2 Screen Shot 2014-01-09 at 20.44.20


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Posted in Artefact, Artefact Cards, blank cards, brainstorms, cards, visu, vizthinking, wireframing, workshops

Playful, And Something Up My Sleeve

Posted 28 October 2013 by John Willshire

I was honoured to talk at Playful last Friday, a brilliant conference in London run by Mudlurk.  The theme this year was 'Playing With Form', and I talked about "putting things in things", and how the language and concepts we've been brought up with in various fields don't necessarily work with 'internet boxes', as it were.

My slides are here, but more than ever I probably need to add narration, which I shall endeavour to do this week.


Playful 2013 - Putting Things In Things from John V Willshire


It was a great day, but don't just take my word for it - Frankie used some Artefact Cards to take sketchnotes from the whole day too, (below is an example), and Simon, Anjali and Heather have also been writing up their thoughst afterwards.

I'd also worked with Greg from Mudlark to design a light wee game for going aropund the conference, or indeed other conference and gathering spaces, called Seven Cubic Feet. 

We have a few left too, which may make it into the site here at some stage if anyone feels they missed out.


Now, you may be wondering what that is around the deck... well, it's the sleeve we've had, ahem, up our sleeve to go around the new box. 

Artefact fan Andrew pointed out that the new boxes were nice, but not ideal for him.  He tended to carry the packs around individually in his bag, and they'd end up falling out moreoften than not. Which, admittedly, isn't ideal.

User feedback like this is always ideal; precise use cases that you can go and test for yourself, and think of workarounds.  We've been playing around with the 'sleeve', like a matchbox skin to slide over the top of boxes as you carry them around.


It actually turns out to solve some other problems as well.  Firstly, we'd lost the place for branding we had with our old boxes - on the old box, we had a clean, stickered space on the front, like this one we did for The Do Lectures this year (picture by Jonathan Cherry):


Now, we've set up the sleeves so they can be printed digitally down at Keith's in Axminster, so we can do pretty short run branded kits again, which is great (just email me for now if you're interested in doing branded packs like this, I'm be setting up a new FAQ shortly about it, but until then will just answer any queries).

The other great thing about the sleeve is that we've made sure the notch is the same level off the ground so you can make a double-leg stand for the cards, if you wish:

All in all, the sleeve is looking like a total winner, so we're going to start including them on future packs from this week onwards.

(If you've already bought a box recently with the new pack style, but would like some sleeves for them, just give me a shout and we'll sort you out with some).


Posted in Artefact, Artefact Cards, artefactcards, blank cards, boxes, cards, design, invention, thinking

Superheroes, Origin Stories and Artefact Cards

Posted 3 October 2013 by John Willshire

My talk today from Best of Britannia, a show of the finest in British Design and Manufacturing.  It's about Origin Stories, both from the perspective of the retelling of Superhero stories, and the power of making things in Britain:


Superheroes, Origin Stories & Artefact Cards - Best Of Britannia 2013 from John V Willshire
We're also running a wee Artefact stall there over Thursday, Friday and Saturday, so if you're in the area (four minutes from Farringdon Station) then please pop in and say hello (we're on the second floor):

Posted in Artefact, Artefact Cards, artefactcards, batman, batman begins, blank cards, brainstorms, cards, design, drawing, man of steel, superhero, superman, visual thinking, workshops

Don’t meet your heroes. Work with them. Presenting Artefact Cards for Hiut Denim…

Posted 23 August 2013 by Shopify API

David at Hiut Denim asked me earlier in the year “would you like to do something together for our second year book?”  I eagerly said yes.

Fast forward a couple on months, and the new year book has just landed on my desk.

Year Book - On Desk

At the back, there’s this: “A small shop of products that we curate to show off those that we think do their one thing well”

Year Book - Open

And in there, you’ll find the limited edition Hiut Artefact Cards:

Year Book - Artefact Cards

You would not believe how long I sat and just looked at that page.  Yeah, I know.

There’s something about the red and yellow that just works.  It’s rhuburb and custard, perhaps.  They’re my favourite ever Artefact Boxes.

Hiut Artefact Pack Shot

They’re available now, from the Hiut Shop:

Got get some before I buy them all back myself.


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“It’s Genius; it’s Moleskine for Post-its”

Posted 21 August 2013 by Shopify API

“It’s genius, it’s Moleskine for Post-its”

So said Matt Sadler, my friend and fellow graduate of the IPA Excellence Diploma’ of Artefact Cards, as we caught up for the first time in AGES tonight.

I liked that so much, I made him write it down. Then put his face very close to it.


We were down at the launch of an initiative at The Bakery, which has been started by Alex Dunsdon & friends; Alex is another friend of ours from the Excellence Diploma. The Bakery brings together brands, agencies and technology companies, to try and solve problems consumers have with technology, rather than just use it to deliver advertising.

MTPW > MPWT, etc.

Anyway, the two things together (“Moleskine for Post-its” and Tech startups) made me remember a conversation that Mark Earls, Tim Milne and I were having yesterday, about one of the subjects around Mark’s new book he’s writing.

When people are pitching new tech startups to people, they tend to throw together two familiar things to make an unfamiliar thing. It’s Last.FM for Running. It’s Etsy for Auto Parts. It’s Mailbox for Calendars. It’s Instagram for Video. It’s X for Y.

Anyway, there’s probably a clear formula to use.


And it’s all out the “Cut Up Technique” play book, of which Artefact Cards a definitely of the school of. Cut Up Technique is basically where you take an existing body of text (or images)’ cut through them all, and start rearranging to find new combinations.

It’s what the brilliant William S Burroughs quote “When You Cut Into The Present The Future Leaks Out” refers to. Cut into what exists, reorder, and see what might exist in the future.

Try it tomorrow. Write down lots of popular things in culture, and a set of broken things around the thing you’re working on. Then mix them all up, and see what you can create.


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New Box - our final prototype

Posted 19 August 2013 by John Willshire

After what must be nearly three months of work, we've cracked the new box prototype. 

To say we're delighted would be an understatement.

Into production very soon, expect them in September...

Posted in Artefact, Artefact Cards, artefactcards, blank cards, brainstorms, cards, design, drawing, play, UX, UXcafe, visual thinking, wireframing, workshops

Artefact Cards - 10 minute talk at UXCafe

Posted 16 August 2013 by John Willshire

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Posted in Artefact, Artefact Cards, artefactcards, blank cards, brainstorms, cards, design, drawing, UX, UXcafe, visual thinking, vizthinking, wireframing, workshops