About Artefact Cards

Artefact Cards help you capture, sort and play with your ideas.  

The process is simple; Create, Connect, ReorderStart by writing or drawing your ideas on individual cards, find new connections by moving them around, then pack them away to explore again and add to later. Artefact Cards have been created by and for design professionals who demand tools that offer a perfect, subtle balance of quality and usability.

They are designed for use with permanent Sharpie markers, so that you truly make an 'artefact'; not wipeable, not disposable, but keepable. Because Artefact Cards feel that they were made for something great, people craft better ideas on them.

Each pack contains fifty-two blank cards, coloured on one side and white on the other, individually cut from high-grade 300gsm clay-coated card stock. They are designed and manufactured in the UK; created by Smithery in London, and made in  Axminster in Devon.

OK - how do we use them...?

There is no right or wrong way to use Artefact Cards; they're a tool, not a technique. You can use them any way you want, like a blank canvas. Or lots of little canvii, or whatever the plural is. However, in five years of research with customers, we've established that there are several common types of Artefact Card users out there in the wild. Have a read through them below to see which you might be...



Stories mostly have a start, middle and an end, but with Artefact Cards you can move each card around to find the best possible combination to tell your story. From screenwriters to authors, writers to researchers, planners to playwrights; there are a lot of different folks who're coming together in the practice of using the cards to find out how the story goes.

Key Benefit: Finding the perfect order for the story you're trying to tell


Further reading...

Interview with Paul Chaplin

Interview with Ian Sanders

Documentary style planning, inspired by Dave Birss



A brainstorm, a mind cloud, a thought shower; whatever you want to call it, Artefact Cards are the perfect way to pull your ideas out of your head, get them down on the table and play around with them. Then stack them, pack them, and bring them out to tackle the project again when you need to.

Key Benefit: Getting everything out of your head and making those ideas tangible


Further reading...

Interview with Joe Roberson

Interview with Michael T Williams

Interview with James Caig



Some people just seem to do most do their best thinking away from a screen. Whether it's being able to focus, or just the joy or working in physical space, Artefact Cards allow you to mould your thoughts into a tangible thing. It works for everything from setting out the shape of a workflow to seeing a whole new website on a table, in ways that screens find hard to do.

Key Benefit: Being able to use the physical space to spot new connections and orders

Further reading...

Interview with Annabel Bird

Interview with Tina Bernstein

Interview with Dan Thomas



The cards are small enough to fit in your wallet, purse or our specially crafted Field Kit so often they are the ideal way to quickly scribble down your thoughts on the go. They provide you with a portable platform to draw or write, meaning you will never forget about that great idea you had. Like catching idea butterflies in a net.

Key Benefit: Having a way to note down inspiration in a way that makes it special and shareable.


Further reading...

Interview with Martin Roberts

Interview with Oliver Legris

Interview with Simon White



For both the initial planning stage and increasingly the final presentations, loads of people use Artefact Cards to make sure they understand how every important point can find a home in a presentation. By treating each card as a single slide, they simplify points to just the necessary information, then find the shape and flow of the presentation they want to craft.

Key Benefit: Honing a presentation so you start thinking about exactly what to say (and what not to say).


Further reading...

Interview with Thomas Skavhellen

Interview with Phil Adams

Interview with Dena Walker



We won’t go into too much detail here about specific tools, but people use Artefact Cards as an opportunity to create a tool for themselves, or even a set of tools within one pack. These 'thinking tools' are ways that people can repeatedly use good practice to tackle the problems in front of them. This works especially well in teams and other communities of practice.

Key Benefit: The ability to reflect on your own working process, and make quick hacks to improve it.


Further reading...

Interview with Ian Fitzpatrick

Interview with Thomas Skavhellen

Interview with Ian Sanders


We are very keen to create an ongoing “community toolbox”, containing all the different ways people use Artefact Cards and we would love to hear how you use the cards - just send us a tweet at @artefactcards to say hello, and we'll have a chat about what you're up to.