Do you want to know something odd? I designed my first enamel pin before I bought one. Photos of pins just kept cropping up on social media and I thought – you know what – my ‘killing it’ sugarskull illustration would make a pretty neat pin.
Since then, I’ve had another two of my designs made into pins and I’ve drawn countless of other designs, waiting for the day I can afford to turn them into pin reality.
It doesn’t stop there. I buy pins. In fact, I’m a self-confessed pin pusher. I see a pin that my friends or family will like and I urge them to buy it (besides, I love supporting other makers).
This pin craze has got me pondering, what is SO addictive about them?
Back in the day, pins were more of a functional thing – showing allegiance to organisations and teams. In the 1970s and 1980s it was more bands and brands. Apparently, in 1950s America, ‘pinning’ (1) between a young couple meant they were considering getting engaged (engaged to be engaged, if you will). The girl would wear the guy’s fraternity pin to show this intention. Outdated as it sounds, I quite like this idea – but maybe with a modern overhaul of swapping pins with each other – an equal partnership, no ownership.
For me, the pinning of today isn’t so much about organisations, allegiances and companies – but more about self expression. Tiny little pieces of your personality. There are pins with pop culture references. There are pins referencing memes. There are sad and angry pins. There are pins that are so achingly beautiful they’re a little Picasso in their own right.
And I love wearing my heart on my sleeve. And my pin on my collar.
Because, you know what – I can secretly express myself with these pins, quietly and unassumingly. People may never get close enough to see the pin, and its message, but I know it’s there. Some pins make me feel understood – if it’s a message I really identify with I feel there is at least one other person out there having the same inner thoughts and feelings. Pins can give me courage and make me feel more confident. They can bring laughter. They can emphasise with me when I’m feeling down. Pins can voice the messages I’m not quite confident enough to say.
It all sounds a bit outrageous, I know. But really, that’s what pins mean to me. I’m not saying all pins have these extra magical positive powers – some I just like because they’re goddamn cool. And that’s ok too. If you’re not a pin wearer, you should try it out – find one you like, and see if it makes you feel any different wearing it. If you are a pin wearer, let me know what makes you love them so much!
Oh, and I have an evergrowing selection of my favourite pins over on… you’ve guessed it… Pinterest. I feel like it’s no coincidence there.