So as it turns out, I am currently obsessed with collecting Anime Enamel Pins! I have a growing collection, over 100+ now. The community is niche yet vibrant, and so very eclectic. Allow me to share with you a bit of my experiences.
How It All Started
I have always been a long time anime fan. I grew up watching Dragonball Z, Yuyu Hakusho, Yu-Gi-Oh, Beyblade, Pokemon, Digimon, Trigun, Gundam, Zoids, Naruto, One Piece, Bleach — you name it, the list goes on.
In my college years I developed my personal brand, "Mr. Wildenfree®", and I had designed a small character that stuck around from its inception. I called him "Lil W"; a personal representation, or my emoji, of introspection. Those of you who have joined the newsletter recently have received that special story in its entirety as part of my introductory emails.
During the pandemic, as I sought ways to connect further with my growing audience around the creative works I put out into the world, I decided to make an enamel lapel pin out of Lil W. I was inspired to do so by my friend Westin & his PXL APPAREL brand, as he had sent me one of his awesome pins along with a shirt I ordered from him.
I must have bought 500 of these Lil W pins. I rock them quite often. I've sold a few & given even more out — just to spread the love & brand awareness.
The Inspiration to Collect
These initial pins were the start of my journey collecting anime lapel pins. Though, it'd be more accurate to recognize the true inception of my pin collecting inspiration... My mother.
I noticed that my mom had also collected pins. I knew before, but there was not yet any parallels to my life until this latest chapter. I remember seeing a hat in our garage that was full of unique pins from the 1996 Olympics that was held in our city of Atlanta. During the pandemic, I was basically living back home for a while so I saw that hat often, as I setup my temporary music & podcast studio in that same garage I grew up in.
When I started to realize that I was intentionally caring for pins I owned, I brought it up to my mother and we joyously reminisced for a while. She took a moment to tell me the story of her spontaneous scavenger hunt for each pin on that hat she got.
Anyway, the next, was a random set of Pokemon & Naruto pins that were marketed to me on Amazon. After now having my own pin, the pin from PXL APPAREL & the stories from my mother I figured, why not get more pins from some of my favorite anime? After all, they were only one click away from joining a shopping cart of items of which I was already about to check out.
A Beautiful Intersection: Pins & Productivity
There was another special set of pins that entered my life as gifts for the journey, a reward & recognition for my contributions as a Notion Certified Ambassador. As part of my welcoming, I received the official gold Notion pin along with a box of stickers & post cards.
Now this heart pin, is the official branding & representation for Notion Ambassadors. This one I received during a visit to Notion HQ when I was in San Francisco! During my time there, I was even able to participate as a guest speaker during their first ever community event at their headquarters. The bonus alongside this pin was the bucket hat I received as welll. I pair the two every now & then.
After that, it was truly a slippery slope! I started looking for more pins, first from Amazon, then Ali Express and that's when I realized some pins were far more expensive than others! I soon found out about a whole niche community of independent artists & pin creators, making the most beautifully details pins I have ever seen. I never thought I would happily spend over $40 on one pin before... now, I am all too quick to hit that "buy" button, especially for those limited edition drops.
The Creation of Anime Pins
The process for creating each pin is incredibly involved; from the arbiter of the pin's creation, to the artists that design them, to the pin manufacturers & the several-month-long process to fashion, proof & finalize a set of pins... its truly a marvel.
It's such a passion-driven community, showcasing the love we have for the anime & other animated series that we've grown to love over the years. It has its own controversies, however, because many of these passion projects can garner so much attention, that the official license holders of some of these series might even try to have the pin makers' pages shut down, or send cease & desists! Even still, so many persist in the face of that, spin up new channels, avoid saying character names, etc. just to let the art form live on.
It is worth noting though, that there are indeed pin creators that hold official licensing rights to produce pins from many welll known anime series. They are few & far between though.
Nonetheless, there's this beautiful grey area in all of that, which somehow both honors & fights — It honors the series' creators with our unending passion & appreciation for the characters they've created... and it can often fight, sidestep & revolt against the license holders that wish to deaden or siphon away the successes of these independent fan works.
An Anime Collector, Even in Web3
Just a few months before I was fully immersed in this passionate exploration of collecting Anime enamel pins, I was quite involved in the web3 space, clamoring for NFTs & digital collectibles to add to my crypto wallet. Amidst all of that I became a proud owner of two NFTs from the 0N1 Force PFP Avatar project. This was the first PFP project in the space that tapped into anime inspiration & catered to that audience. I still hold them both til this day, though I may end up selling one.
I am also still involved in web3, the focus has just changed nowadays. Less focus on collecting NFTs & the FOMO that comes from missing out on a hyped project. More fundamentals, understanding the technology, talking to founders & protocol teams to share my unique perspective as a creative entrepreneur, wordsmith & synthesizer.
All the same, I randomly got to know some of the joys of collecting, from the least tangible way to do it, haha. The spirit of collecting has been around far longer than such volatile examples for sure, however, I'm grateful to have experienced the joys that can come from it all.
Quality Pins & Fine Craftsmanship
Following this organic passion of collecting Anime pins has made me realize a new level of appreciation that I have for art & beautifully crafted works. The level of detail, great composition & color palettes always astound me. Sure, I had these appreciations for many crafts before. After all, I did get my bachelor's in Studio Art at Florida State, taking art history and classes filled with critiques of other's artwork. Yet, there's just something different about the level of joy I get when I see my favorite characters cast in metal & enamel, sandblasted & sparkling with a diamond dusted pearl swirl.
This passion has also made me realize that there are people in the deepest niches, finding joy & making a living off of doing what they love without worrying about the masses. The level of care, gratitude & excitement that I witness in the creators, as welll as the community around it all, is quite heartwarming & inspiring to say the least.
A Notion Template for Pin Collectors
With all that being said, for my fellow Anime Pin Collectors, I may have a treat for you.
I have created the "Pin Collector OS", which is a Notion Template system that I'm releasing today, that helps both pin collectors & creators alike to organize their pin collections & the various metadata that can be tracked about each pin. Properties like: Grade, Edition Count, Variant, Size, Effects, Condition, Product Stage, Drop Date + Drop Price, Character + Series, Acquire Method, etc.
I did this firstly to help myself keep track, but I continued to refine the system & put effort Into making it available as a template as an opportunity to provide value to the pin community that has brought me a lot of joy lately. So here's to hoping that this Notion Template system helps you organize your own collection efficiently!
You can check out the "Pin Collector OS" Notion Template here! For those discovering it through this wonderful blog post of mine, I've added a discount code for 20% off to those links as a thank you for reading this.
I also made a video overview of the template on my YouTube Channel! If you're interested in diving right into it, here it is!
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All the best,
Mr. Wildenfree 🐺🍵🎵
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