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The Human Connection Behind Artifact Puzzles (A Guest Blog Post)

This is a guest blog post from puzzle investor Timothy Wright:

I read someplace that experts have decreed that precisely four forms of human intimacy exist:  intellectual, emotional, spiritual, and physical.  And that as a culture we are all starved for more connectedness or intimacy. 

I’ll argue, as someone with an alert service dog that I trained myself, that I’ve had all four kinds of intimacy with other species.  My labrador puppy “Alleluia” hooks his wrists over my shoulders, looks me in the eye and licks my face.  So yea, we connect.  He can read me like a book, and with one expert look, he knows exactly what kind of day I had when I walk in to his room.

As much as I’ve loved all my dogs, and respect their learning abilities. Sometimes I’m left still looking for a different kind of connection. 

I lent a puzzle (Karen Kunc – Verse from Macrocosmica) to friend, and after doing it she exclaimed: “Do you know what they did to me?  They got straight edges that aren’t borders, and borders that aren’t straight?”

I tried to convince her that everyone else got a perfectly normal predictable version of that puzzle, but just to be mean to her they gave only her the “special” edition with the backwards edges.  Smart lady, she didn’t believe me.  

That was the beginning of her addiction.  What is the attraction?  I’ll argue it is a form of intimacy.  So far, each of my 120 Artifact puzzle has an “inside joke” or a “prize in the box” so to speak.  Something shared, something fun that exceeded, transgressed our expectations.  Each puzzle box is like message in the bottle.  A benign visual “play on words” so to speak.  Some puzzle designer over there is reaching out to me, and wants me to be in on it.  I can tell.

And so we feel connected; we have a form of creative intimacy with a (some) very creative artisan(s) who boldly reached out to us.

What is your all time favorite Artifact surprise puzzle?  I’ll argue that my all time favorite is “Justin Hillgrove – Overwhelming Odds.”  What is the surprise?  I’m not sayin’; I can keep a secret.  



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  • slugbiker on

    I totally agree with the connection between puzzle designer and puzzle solver. That’s what makes Artifact Puzzles such a pleasure to do. I love opening a new puzzle and wondering “what tricks are they playing with this one?” The joy of realization… aha! that’s what they are doing!….makes these puzzles sublime.

    I hope the designers realize how much we really appreciate the subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) allusions to the image, the artist, (the world!) they create for us.

    There are many puzzles that reveal their “surprise” as you work on them. Without any spoilers, I will say that Lullaby for Lions was an impressive design and revelation. I didn’t notice one of the “surprises” in Night of the Mystic Moons until the second time I did it. So many others, but I’m not going to spoil anyone’s experience by telling.


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