We are knee deep in the age of customization, and nowhere is that more apparent than the enamel pin craze. For months now we’ve been admiring denim jackets across Brooklyn that are literally weighed down by pins. Backpacks and totes, too. And the variety of pins is limitlessness. Do you want a tiny ‘90s Leonardo DiCaprio? Or a Grandma emoji pin? Why not a tiny toasted turkey sandwich served on a proper china plate? Right now, you can find pins everywhere from Urban Outfitters to your local pharmacy, but for truly tiny pieces of art, look to the artists and illustrators.
We talked with designers about their favorite enamel pins and what we’ve discovered is the best ones have an emotional resonance with their wearers. Start your own collection and express yourself with flair (at least 37 pieces, please).
Feelings Enamel Pin ($10)
Adam J. Kurtz is is a designer, artist and the author of 1 Page at a Time and Pick Me Up, which have been translated into more than a dozen languages. If you haven’t seen his books trending all over Brooklyn, then you’ve definitely seen his collaborations with NYC institutions like the Brooklyn Public Library, Fishs Eddy and Strand Bookstore. “My favorite pin is my own FEELINGS jar pin, because honestly who doesn’t bottle up their feelings a little bit?” Kurtz says. “It really represents the ethos and humor of the rest of my work–books, illustration and everything else I do.” Other standouts for Kurtz include the CHEER THE FUCK UP pin and the UP/DOWN pin in pill form.
We’ve already written extensively about the ubiquitous unicorn trend. You can eat unicorn flavored everything, you can dye your hair unicorn colored, and you can poop like a unicorn. So, of course you can buy a cute unicorn enamel pin as well. But Marisa Ravel, the creative director behind Laser Kitten takes the trend to a new level by bringing together the two unforgettable legends, Prince and David Bowie, riding bareback on a pink unicorn. “It’s my fave because it means so much to so many people!” she says. “It hits people right in the feels!” This Los Angeles based company is inspired by pop culture and has an amazing selection for those nostalgic for the 80s and 90s. This Donna Martin Graduates pin illustrated by Sara M. Lyons is a brilliant celebration of the best episode of Beverly Hills 90210, the most innocent high school on television. A runner up is the Friends Forever pin set starring Corey Haim and Corey Feldman, whose bromance is eternal.
Golden Apple Pin ($10)
“My latest favorite is our Golden Apple pin,” says Julia Walther, designer of Shiny Apple Studio. “It references my business name but also has deep roots in Greek and other mythologies as an object of pure delight, power, and immortality. Not bad for a piece of fruit!” Their Monster Maiden pin set ($30) includes mythological hybrids such as the Sphinx, a siren and a harpy. Walther started this DC-based company last year as an offshoot as her work as a potter, with a focus on “creating designs with an intersection of humor, beauty, literature, and childhood memories, paired with a healthy love of tiny shiny things.” For more magical creatures in all shapes and sizes, add these from other designers: This three-eyed psychic fox pin, this mermaid pin or this maneater pin.
Babeshark Pin ($10)
Robin Eisenberg, LA-based illustrator and designer, says, “My fav out of all my pins is probably my Babeshark pin. I like that she’s tough but also elegant. If I was a shark I would want to be friends with her.” Bring on the summer sweat with a refreshing La Croix pin by Wildfang to display your favorite flavor (pamplemousse!!) or purchase a strawberry basket from Shiny Apple Studio to show your favorite snack or rock an “Everything Is Cool” popsicle from People I’ve Loved to vote for your favorite refreshment.
Cigarettes Lapel Pin ($6)
For something a little glam, but also a little edgy, look no further than Rosehound Apparel & Design. The Toronto-based company was started by Megan Campagnolo in 2014, and has evolved from clothing accessories to include homewares like candles and ceramics, all with a Twins Peaks vibe. “I like to draw inspiration from snacks, cats, vintage advertising, and probably way too many patterns,” Campagnolo says. “My favorite pin has always been my rose cigarettes, because they completely represent my style and homage to old Hollywood, cult films, and flowers.” But other standouts include a bang! flag lapel pin and a Case of the Mondays lapel pin of a cooler full of beer. She’s got all your vices covered.
Bullet Bra Pin $10
Gabriela Companioni, the designer behind Bobby Pins Co., says, “I’m really feeling this Bullet Bra pin right now because it pulls together my love for vintage fetish and enamel pins!” Companioni started the company as a way to make a little extra income when she transitioned to being a stay-at-home mom, and just a few years later it became a full time job. Her online store carries a collection of retro vibe pins, including her own, with stand outs like a heart shaped pool ($10) and a strawberry cake ($10). She knows how to do sweet and vicious in a very David Lynch way.
Things Will Work Out Pin ($12)
Hands signals are a huge trend right now. Although at first glance they seem to be a crossover from the emoji hands, these are less yellow and much more active. Whether the hand is giving the middle finger or the Vulcan Salute, the fingers are long and the nails are coiffed. Our favorite comes from People I’ve Loved and is sold at Otherwild (35 E. 1st Street, East Village), the go-to boutique for all your feminist gear. The Things Will Work Out pin ($12) has some positive vibes that will look amazing over your Future Is Female tee.