When I was 9, I wrote my first story. It was about a boy trapped in a haunted lake house. Now what made this story great (IMO) was the fact that my house had just flooded, vacuums were blaring and I wrote it sitting on my night stand. Immersion is the power of a good story.
When I was 13, I visited my father's hometown high school. I walked in and saw the mural he had painted on the cafeteria wall. It was a powerful moment. And after 27 years, it still resonated with the students that went there. Art emboldens the power of a good story.
When I was 22, I went to Scotland. I walked into the only Starbucks in Edinburgh and was blown away by the shear presence of the experience. They renovated one of the oldest buildings there but kept the integrity of the building. To me this totally created a new experience than the usual one I had in the states. Stories can be rewritten and a new experience can be had.
I love boxes and arrows, user research, personas, wireframes, and interaction diagrams. Some say it's weird. I say it's awesome.
The artifacts that I love creating are always weaved into the overall brand strategy. You can have the best experience, but if it doesn't stick, it's not worth it.
Artifacts must be designed. PSD's and Ai files? Yep. Need me to "Graffle" something up? No Prob. Interactive prototypes? Awesome!