Enamel pins are more popular than ever before.
Even Kim Kardashian’s wearing them. And if she, the ultimate fashionista, is sporting her own pins, then you know they’re a big deal!
We’re not talking pins of the political variety- though you find those on lapels everywhere as well. We’re talking bespoke, custom enamel pins designed and made by real people, just like you.
With a bit of creativity and industry-savvy, anybody can create their own pins these days.
In time, you could even establish a personal pin brand and turn it into a profitable business. Social media platforms make it easier than ever to promote your designs; access to international markets means you can organize manufacture in moments.
Sound good? Looking to create custom pins (for business or personal purposes) and want some advice on getting started?
Read on for 6 essential enamel pin creation tips.
1. Sketch It Out
Alas, you can’t take the idea in your head and go straight to the manufacturer.
There’s a process involved! And, more often than not, it starts with a sketch. Or, more precisely, with dozens upon dozens of them as you consider different pin designs and ideas!
It’s time to get your sketchbook and drawing pencils out.
Don’t worry about coming up with the perfect design. Simply put pencil to paper and start formulating your ideas. This is the fun, creative part of creating custom enamel pins.
You can expect the design to go through all manner of iterations too. That should take the pressure off your sketches. This isn’t about the finished article. It’s merely the brainstorming stage.
Look inwards and outwards for inspiration! Think about the brand you might be trying to create, the audience you’re trying to reach, and the image you want to present. Try to sketch out as many designs as possible from which you can choose the best of them.
2. Pause, Think and Iterate
You’ve been sketching for hours- maybe even days.
Your hand’s sore from so much drawing and your mind’s exhausted from so much designing. But your efforts have been worth it…
You’ve ended up with a bucket load of potential pin designs. Within those sketchbook pages lay the nuggets of gold- the initial ideas that’ll become the finished article in the steps to come.
It’s time to find them. Look back through your sketches and settle on one or two that stand out. Pick your favorites.
Now get critical.
Remember, this isn’t going to remain a sketch for long. You’re going to turn this into a physical item for someone to purchase and wear in public. Those sketched designs must translate in practical terms.
Put yourself in the manufacturer’s shoes. Tiny details, such as extra lines, holes, and gaps, might be too hard to make. Too intricate and it won’t be possible.
The best pin designs tend to be simple. Reflect on how you could simplify yours.
3. Keep Expense in Mind
It’s worth mentioning the price at this point.
The aforementioned need for simplicity ensures your pin designs will be easier to manufacture. There’s a good chance the final result will look better from an aesthetic standpoint too.
An added bonus, though, is the cost reductions you can expect.
Anything that’s more straightforward to produce will cost you less cash. That’s important- especially if you’re looking to turn this into a business. Cheap production processes mean larger margins; profits get a boost.
4. Consider Shrinking Your Designs
The size of your custom pins makes a mighty difference.
Too big and it’ll weigh too much to wear comfortably. It’d be cumbersome and make it annoying to wear on your shirt, lapel, or anywhere else.
Too small, though, and things start to get fiddly! Fingers and thumbs aren’t designed to work with teeny weeny items. Tiddly pins also get lost more easily and are, of course, harder to see at a distance.
Strike a balance.
Most pin designers opt for somewhere in the region of 1 to 1.5 inches. With that as a reference point, certain designs may warrant going bigger or smaller (think 0.5 inches minimum to 2 inches max).
Draw your chosen designs out at scale. That should provide an idea for how they’ll look and function in their final form.
5. Digitize Your Designs
Your hand-drawn designs might be awesome.
But they come with practical flaws in terms of creating your pins.
First and foremost is the fact that manufacturers almost always require a digital copy. Imagine communicating with a Chinese factory about getting your designs made. They need to get their hands on the image(s) to see what you’re asking.
Digital copies make that possible.
Try to create a vector file of your designs on the computer. All sorts of design software can be employed here, such as Photoshop or Inkscape (for a free alternative).
Design programs take time to master. The easiest way to approach this is to hire a freelance designer to get the job done. Head to Fiverr (a website full of freelancers advertising services for as little as 5 bucks) to see what you can find.
6. Choose the Finish and Backing
You’re nearly there!
All that’s left to do now is select the finish/craft and the backing for your pins.
Let’s start with the finish. You’ve got two choices: hard or soft enamel. This post about hard enamel vs soft enamel pins should help you choose. Your selection will impact the appearance, durability and price.
From there, you have to pick the pin backing. Do you want a classic safety pin? Or how about a butterfly clutch? Maybe a stick pin is more up your street?
It’s up to you. Be sure to go through your options with the manufacturer.
Create Your Custom Enamel Pins
Custom enamel pins have exploded in popularity in recent years.
Even the world’s biggest celebrities are sporting them. Looking to create pins of your own? Hopefully, this post will help you do it!
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