The best way to join the enamel pin community is through online and in-person forums where you can share your favorite pins and show off your unique designs.
How can you become involved in an enamel pin club? Use a search engine to look for your favorite artist or type of pin, and you will find forums and shops made by pinheads for pinheads. You can even sign up for exclusive clubs on sites like Envy Benita and get a shiny pin shipped to you each month.
Enamel lapel pins have been around for decades but have recently enjoyed a resurgence in popularity. Today it is more effortless than ever to design and find people all over the world who share your interest. Online and in-person communities can be found by doing a search through various online forums on sites like Reddit, Deviant Art, Craft Industry Alliance, and Etsy.
People start collecting pins for all different reasons, and they have just as many motivations for searching for clubs and exclusive content. There is something amazing about finding that perfect new lapel pin that you can show off to your friends. Pin creators are able to bring a whole lot of attitude and emotion into a tiny piece of art that you can utilize as a fashion accessory or personal statement.
Enamel Pin Clubs – How to get Involved
Whether you want to buy, trade, create, or just share your joy of pins with fellow pin lovers, there are plenty of ways to get involved with the community. With social distancing playing a part in most meetups in 2020, there is a resurgence of online clubs and forums for sharing pin collections. These are easy to join, and you can even find places where people will give feedback and information on resources so that you can create and share your own pin designs.
Types of Pin Collections
Collectors exist for all types of pins, but the most common are the following.
Why People Join Pin Clubs
Everyone enjoys being able to share things that they love with others that understand the appeal. Pin clubs are a place where aspiring creators and collectors alike can get together and discuss their favorite artists and pieces. People have various motivations for joining communities like these, including the following.
Online pin clubs are usually found nestled within larger art and fandom communities. There are a few sites dedicated to pin collectors like Hard Rock Cafe, which has morphed into its own shop for all things pins, but the majority of them are either niche or connected to retailers. One of the best ways to find up and coming artists and their new creative pins is through fundraising sites like Kickstarter and IndieGoGo.
Forums for Fans
You can search for forums on popular sites like Reddit or Deviant Art, but you can also find them on pin specific sites like Pin Pics (https://www.tapatalk.com/groups/pintalk/) and Pin Collectors (https://www.pincollector.com/discover/).
Disney has an official pin collector trading site. Other groups include Pin Trading Online, Pin Trader Club, and the Pin Trading DataBase (Pin Trading DB). These are excellent places to go in search of fellow pinheads where you can share your hoard or go in search of new treasures.
There are some sites like The Gray Muse (https://www.thegraymuse.com/collections/enamel-pins), which is an independent artist site, but most of them use third-party shopping sites to promote their products. Etsy is by far the easiest way to find individual artists who create gorgeous enamel pins. Some of their amazing options include the following creator stores.
Pin of the Month Clubs
Monthly box subscriptions are a fad right now, and you can get ones for most types of pins for an affordable monthly or annual payment. Sites like Brat Box and The Pink Samurai have gorgeous box subscriptions for as little as $10. Some pin artists also have their own Patreon accounts, where they offer opportunities for you to donate and get a monthly pin from their collection.
Finding a Local Pin Club in Your City
You can find local pin clubs by looking at community blogs, event calendars, or even places like Craigslist, Meetup, or Facebook. Universities, libraries, and community centers may have information on clubs that meet up in your area. In-person meetups can be a great way to find out about annual pin-related events in your area (e.g., fairs, conventions, etc.).
You can look for flyers or posters in your local pubs, coffee shops, and comic stores. Many times, places that host book clubs or other groups will have information on other types of meetups in your area. It also helps to reach out to collectors that you find online who live in your area to see if any of them know of nearby routine gatherings.
University and College Clubs
If you end up doing an online search for pin clubs at your local university or college, you will want to use the search terms “pin collectors,” “enamel pin,” or “lapel pin” due to the fact that college-level wrestling groups are often called �pin clubs’ (i.e., in reference to pinning down wrestling competitors).
Pin and Patch Convention
The Pin and Patch Con (https://www.pinandpatchcon.com/) has been an annual event for the last four years and is located in San Diego, California. It was designed by fans for fans and allows collectors to trade while creators share their products. Many pinheads are hoping that this will lead to an increase in venues for others around the country as more cities start holding their own local conventions.
Most Popular Online Shops
Online enamel pin shops have grown in recent years to the point where you can find almost any kind of pin (e.g., sarcastic, horror, whimsical, fandom, geek, etc.) on a site catering specifically to people who love that genre of art.
Hard Rock Cafe
This site has a large catalog of classic and limited edition pins that tend towards the rocker and fantasy genres of art. Hard Rock Cafe was inspired by old-style diners, and their pins reflect that with their colorful, lyrical inspiration apparent with each product. There are also a whole bunch of cities and countries for anyone that collects place pins.
There is a huge following for Disney pins, and they are active enough that there is an official Disney pin trading site (http://disney.go.com/eventservices/whatispintrading.html). They even allow people who are visiting their Disney sites (e.g., Walt Disney World, Disneyland Resort, or Disneyland Paris) to exchange pins with characters, which adds an extra layer of magic. This trading tradition has been going strong in all Disney locations since the late 1990s.
Arguably one of the trendiest pin shops on the web, Subarbone (https://sugarbones.net/), has monthly pin club options that you can sign up for and a Patreon powered clubhouse for additional content. This site features the work of Canadian artist Cheyenne Federiconi. The brand is described as “dark and delightful,” as the Sugarbone name would suggest.
Lace and Whimsy
Lace and Whimsy (https://www.laceandwhimsy.com/accessories) is a shop with artwork created by Kathy D. Clark and features some truly gorgeous pins. These tend to lean towards the mystical and fantastical edge of things.
Fin Pin Shop
This shop is unique in that it has eco-friendly wooden pins so that you can protect the environment while enjoying a killer new accessory. The Fin Pin Shop (https://finpinshop.com/collections/pins) has a Patreon page where you can sign up for their pin club and get a monthly enamel or wooden addition to your collections. The creators of this supreme shop are two biologists, Jaclyn and Yasmin, and their love of the oceans shows through brilliantly in their sea-based artwork.
What to Know About Creating Your Own Enamel Pins
If you have your own designs that you would like to be able to share with the world and other people who love lapel pins, then there are a few things to keep in mind before you get started. It is an itsy bit more complex than sketching out an idea on paper and then paying someone to turn it into an enamel pin. Below are some of the factors that you will need to take into consideration as you work through your custom design.
First of all, you want to make certain that whatever design you use does not include anything copyright protected. While there might be a temptation to create a humorous pin of your favorite television character, this might put you into some legal trouble. You want to make sure that everything involved with your pin, from any text to the patterns and overall design, belongs to you and no one else.
Pins can come in several sizes, but they generally stay between .5 and 2 inches. Due to the size limitation, you will want to avoid using very small lettering or delicate lines as they may become lost. Most manufacturers will have sizing guides and recommendations listed before you upload so that you can resize your artwork as needed to make sure it will turn out looking amazing.
You want to stick with solid colors and avoid gradients whenever possible. Also, most places that create pins will charge more for more colors, so if your design looks great with only two or three colors, it will be much cheaper than five or more. The Pantone Color system is going to be the ideal way to choose what colors to use in your design.
There are a number of common pin materials as well as finishes. The alternatives will be listed on the manufacturing website, and the main differences are in price and appearance though there will be examples provided so you can choose which looks you prefer. There are also hard and soft enamel options with soft enamel having “valleys” between the lines of your picture.
If you choose to pre-make pins before you have a customer base, then the start-up cost can be quite high. Getting 50 pre-made pins can easily cost $300 to $500 even when using only the basic materials and features. The cheapest option is to upload your designs to a print on demand site and then market your products, or you can find a way to fund your pin start-up costs using sites like Kickstarter.
How to Fund Your Own Pin Designs
For anyone who does not have an extra few hundred dollars available for creating your first pin designs, it can be hard to know where to go for funding. Fortunately, there are several avenues you can choose from when it comes to start-up costs for any kind of new venture. Below are some ways to get money for your ideas without having to produce any prototype.
Kickstarter is one of the easiest funding platforms online and allows you to post your prototype or idea where people can see it and choose to donate. There are set funding goals and a deadline. You then offer something to individuals in exchange for their donation (e.g., a letter of thanks for $5, a special pin for $15, two pins for $30, etc.) and then if the goal is met on time, you get funded and if not then the donors get their money back.
Unlike Kickstarter, anyone who donates to a funding goal on IndieGoGo has their money taken immediately instead of when the monetary goal is met. This makes it a bit less certain that they will get anything in return for their money, which makes it harder to get investments if you are at the idea phase of your project and have yet to produce any solid products that you can show to prospective investors. In setup and execution, this site is otherwise very similar to Kickstarter.
If you are savvy with various social media platforms and have a good number of followers, then you can try drumming up support on your feeds where people know who you are and will most be likely to share your interests and tastes. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Tumblr are all great places to show your followers your design concepts and get feedback and monetary support. You will want to start there if you end up using one of the funding services above so that your social media followers can be the first to donate to your dream.
Sites That Will Create Your Custom Pins
Once you have your design completed and your start-up costs covered, then it comes down to deciding which pin manufacturer you should choose. There are hundreds of online businesses that offer this service, but some are more popular than others
PinProsPlus has been around for many years and served all types of customers. They offer a wholesale pricing option so just ask and you can get much better pricing that what is listed on the website.
Custom Pins Now might sound like, well cheap, but it really isn’t. Quality for less is a much better title and more representative of the type of pins they make. They keep their overhead down to pass on the savings to their customers. You will find that their quality is equivalent and often surpasses those of other companies.
Print on Demand If you want to offer your art but do not want to be forced to pay over $200 just to get 50 pre-made products, then you can choose to have your design used on sites that print on demand like Printify, Zazzle, or Redbubble, to name a few.