Commissioning and Ordering Enamel Pins: What We Learned

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custom made enamel lapel pins: design and cost

Have you thought about creating enamel lapel pins? You could do it yourself, assuming you have the skills to draw the art for the pins. Or you can commission someone else to create a pin for you. We have drawing skills in abundance on the SketchBook team, but we wanted to learn in-depth about out how an expert pin maker goes about it. What’s the actual process for creating enamel pins? How much does it cost? What do they look like when it’s all done?

We sought out a pin maker whose work we admired on Instagram, Simone Brown. She has her own Etsy store and makes lovely fan art inspired pins, but what really stood out to us is that she creates her art for pins entirely on her phone using SketchBook for iOS. That to us was pretty impressive, which you can read about in our comprehensive post, How to Make Enamel Lapel Pins Step by Step. But we wanted to know more about her process of creating pins for her clients. For this post, we’re reporting back on the details of her conceptual design process — and most importantly, how the pins came out.

The final results

We were very happy with how these pins turned out. If you’ve ever spent time checking out enamel pins on Etsy or Instagram, you know that the quality can be hit or miss. The original art has to be carefully designed so that it will work as a pin. Simone did it all with a great expertise that took into account our logos, but she also added her own particular style.

our four pins
We commissioned a pin for each of the products in our digital arts group.

How to commission enamel pins

Our community manager Renee sent Simone an invitation asking if she would like to do a small project for us designing enamel lapel pins. If you’ve never commissioned someone to create art, you’d be surprised at how easy it can be. Just ask! People with their own enamel pin stores usually have a strong understanding of what their time is worth and how to make it worth your time, too. As Simone notes, “I was using Instagram to help promote my Etsy shop and also as a side gallery of sorts. However, never did I ever think social media would bring me a job opportunity. I was happily surprised when she asked me to do this project.” We settled on a price for the art commission and a loose time frame and gave Simone some basic guidelines for what we wanted. After it was all done, we asked her details about how she went from concept to completion….

Why cherry blossoms & butterflies?

“My task was to create lapel pin designs, one pin design for each of their apps: SketchBook, Pixlr, Creative Market, and Graphic. Renee was super nice and gave me creative freedom to do as I wished so I could draw the apps in my own style. I will admit I was a little nervous at first. I know branding is very important, and you don’t want to mess with or change a company logo too much. When it came to the actual logos I didn’t change them much at all. I tried to keep the colors and designs similar to the original Autodesk app logos. I wanted to stay true to the brand.

When drawing the logos I tried not to rely heavily on rulers and guide tools so the designs would have a hand-drawn look. I didn’t use any pens either. I drew all the designs with in-app pencils. I did use the symmetry tool quite a bit when making the logos to make sure everything stayed even and consistent on both sides of each design, but I really wanted everything to look as organic as possible.

My work process has really changed so much since I started using SketchBook Pro. I just sketch my ideas straight onto the app’s canvas. I will draw a really rough sketch, then I just keep refining it until i’m satisfied. What is so nice about digital medium is you don’t have to worry about eraser marks or ruining your canvas. I take advantage of all the tools like the Undo button (I use this a lot ?), the guides, symmetry, transform, layers, and erase tools — those tools are life savers.

Since I mainly use these apps on my cellphone, instead of making the logos rigid squares with sharp corners like they might appear on a PC, I gave them soft, rounded edges like you would see on a iPhone or smartphone. Like an app icon. For the embellishment details I put around the logos, I wanted to capture each app’s unique features, functions, brand, and personality. I actually use Autodesk products almost every day, mainly SketchBook Pro and Pixlr.”

how to design an enamel pin
Simone drew these pins freehand, but the symmetry tool helps her keep the design balanced.

Tackling the Pixlr design

“The first app design I completed was for the Pixlr apps. As soon as Renee asked me to create these, an idea for the Pixlr pin had already sprung into my mind. I use Pixlr every day for posting on social media, plus I follow Pixlr on Instagram. I think many people use Pixlr to edit nature photos (yes — and selfies too). So for me, when I think Pixlr, I think nature. Also, Pixlr has this beautiful blue butterfly in their advertisements, so I knew I wanted to incorporate that into the design. The butterfly was a must.

Not only was the first rough draft too detailed, it would also require too many colors. The Pixlr logo was a bit challenging to keep simplified color wise. The Pixlr logo has nine colors already with no added embellishments. I had a hard time trying to keep the colors to a minimum and still do what I wanted to. I erased the trees and mountains. I kept the butterfly, leaves, and flowers. I extended them up the sides of the Pixlr logo. Then, I did my best to try and reuse the same colors throughout the design.”

Some of the options we chose for our pins.

The SketchBook logo

“The next logo I worked on was my favorite app — SketchBook. I use it for all my designs! I immediately thought of art supplies. I love the variety of supplies and tools that are offered in the app, especially the Copic markers. I sync SketchBook right up to my Deviant Art account and social media outlets, so I can literally post work from the app to social media. Plus there are contests and articles, so when I thought about it conceptually, I felt like SketchBook Pro isn’t just a design app, it’s kind of a “showcase” app. I knew right away that I wanted to make the logo look like a framed piece of artwork.

So again I drew two very rough drafts. I tried to make an elaborate frame that surrounded the SketchBook logo. The frame was made out of art supplies that are featured in the app like Copic markers, pencils, paint brushes, rulers, air brushes — it was a grand idea, but I soon realized it was way too complex with too much small detail. Sometimes less is more.

I had to step back and simplify the design and colors. SketchBook’s logo has six colors on its own without any added embellishments. I decided to feature only two art supplies: the iconic pencil and a blue paint brush that is often associated with the app. I placed them on each side of the logo using the symmetry tool. Then I filled in the rest of the design with a gold filigree frame. I used the symmetry tool for this as well.”

pin design templates
The (beautiful) final designs of each pin as drawn in SketchBook.

Creative Market

“I did the Creative Market pin next. I wasn’t familiar with it before this project. It’s a place on the web where people sell their art for private and commercial use. Now that I know it exists I plan to make an account and sell some art too. From some quick research, I felt like this is a place where you can really showcase your best work. So I wanted the design to be as big and as bold as the website. I actually went with the first rough sketch on this one. I used the symmetry tool to make the frame around the Creative Market logo and colored it with Pantone colors.”

Autodesk Graphic

“The last logo design I did was for Autodesk Graphic. I had never used it before either, so I had to do some research. It seemed to be another art app similar to SketchBook only for more technical designs like if you wanted to design cars and buildings, but you can also be artsy with the app as well. The logo features tools like different types of pens and rulers. It made me think of dripping black ink so that is why I added the embellishments of cherry blossoms with black branches. I was trying to imitate ink drawings of cherry trees. I was also trying to keep the color palette to a minimum because Graphic’s logo was nine colors (!) without added embellishments. I only needed to do one rough sketch for this logo as well.

At the end of the project I was really hoping I was able to capture each logo’s unique features, design, and personality. I also hoped I was able to stay true to Autodesk’s unique brand. I think I must have accomplished this because none of my designs were sent back for changes. They all were accepted after submission, and that felt amazing! Over all it was a rewarding experience. I would love to do another project with Autodesk if the opportunity ever arises.”

pin pantone colors

This pin had a whopping nine colors!

How did you choose colors?

“When choosing the palette for each design I tried my hardest to stay true to Autodesk’s logo colors. When it comes to choosing Pantone colors for designs for myself, I find it easier and cheaper to keep everything digital. There are Pantone swatch books available for purchase if you want the full array of color choices. I know of some designers who have invested in them and swear by them.

But like I said, for me digital works best. Since SketchBook Pro doesn’t have a Pantone color palette, selecting Pantone colors can be a little tricky. You can use other apps like Photoshop if you have access to them, or you can use the Internet to find the largest Pantone color chart you can and upload the chart into SketchBook. This way you can cherry pick Pantone colors you want off of the chart that are reasonably close. Make sure your write down which number Pantone colors you’ve selected. You can double check the numbers by Google searching them. It’s tedious but worth the effort for fairly accurate enamel colors on your finished pin.”

The cost of our pins

So, how much can you expect to pay for pins? We ordered 100 pins of each of our four designs, and we probably paid a little more than a typical person might. We had a lot of colors. Also, we chose a few premium options. You can get 100 soft enamel pins of size .75-inch starting at $270 at PinMart, and you can probably get much cheaper ones from the wealth of pin providers out there, but we’re very happy we chose Made by Cooper as our vendor. They have the most approachable and professional website, with lots of great articles that explain what you’re buying and the many options you have. They really seem to understand the custom pin making process and make it easy to price out your many options. The ordering process was smooth, and they shipped to us with no surprises. All in all, we were very happy with the quality. The price ranged from $2.43-$2.73 per pin (for our 22mm pins, close to .75-inch). I don’t think you’re going to find a cheaper price for the quality they provide. We definitely recommend Made by Cooper for your own pin ordering.