Drag Queen Enamel Pins? Yas, Hunty!

Sasha Velour Detox Drag Enamel Pins Sasha Velour Detox Drag Enamel Pins

Not only does True Metal Works support the LGBTQ community, we’ve also been lucky enough to work with a number of inspirational drag queens. As trend setters who aren’t afraid to get that coin, some of our favorite queens know that custom enamel pins make a great addition to online merch stores.

Creating custom enamel pins is an easy way to take a well-known, iconic image (um, hello Scarlet Envy) and bring it to the people who would love to take a piece of you home – your fans.

Take a look at a few of the top drag queen enamel pins that we’ve manufactured over the years.


Sasha Velour’s Rose Petal Reveal

If you’re a fan of RuPaul’s Drag Race, you know Sasha Velour’s rose reveal from the Season 9 finale! This enamel pin perfectly captured the moment the rose petals rained down from her snatched wig. Want to relive the moment? Click here to watch.

This pin a made with a beautiful 1.75″ with a dark nickel hard enamel. Two needles on the back keep things nicely in place.

Monét X Change’s Pussycat Wig Reveal


After RuPaul and the other judges repeatedly told her to wear something other than a pussycat wig, Monét X Change did the unexpected and wore not just one, but TWO, pussycat wigs during the All Stars 4 final lip sync. That do take nerve!

One of the hardest pins we’ve ever had to design. Hard enamel with silkscreen details for her eye shadow, lip shine. But the hard part was to create a lapel pin slider action that was solid and didn’t create a wiggle.

The Only Detox

Fan favorite and definitely one of the most creative queens in Drag Race her-story, Detox needed an iconic enamel pin to go with her iconic persona. We’ll never be over it, officially!

Another beautifully designed pin. Silkscreen blush and hair streaks, with glitter enamel lips. Beautiful like Detox.

Jan Sport (or just Jan, if you’re nasty)

Feel the JAN-tasy with this custom-made enamel pin from RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 12 contestant Jan. Super cute and not at all tacky.

Scarlet Envy’s Signature Lewk

When you’ve got a lewk as instantly recognizable as THIS, it needs to be its own pin. Scarlet Envy made us all gag on her beauty (she’s very blessed, you know) with this stunning color block dress from Drag Race’s Season 11 promos.

Boulet Brothers “Monster of Rock”

If you haven’t watched the dragtastic Boulet Brothers on Netflix, you are missing out! Part punk rock, part horror show, and some of the most interesting drag around, Boulet Brother Dragula is a show you need to watch (and a pin you need to own)!

Jackie in a Bottle

Jackie Cox, aka The Persian Princess of Drag, stole hearts and snatched wigs on RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 12. She’s all Persian-ality, all the time!

Perfect mix of glitter filled background and clear single color blocked Jackie with silkscreened type. Come on, falling in love yet?

Aja the Kween

You can’t keep a good kween down! After being eliminated in Season 9 of Drag Race, Aja came back with a BAM in All Stars 3 (did you see their death drop in AS episode 1?!).

One of the earliest pins we’ve ever made for our Drag family, hard enamel, silk screened details and just pure kween!


Together we’ll break (key)chains of love!

At True Metal Works, we not only make cute hard and soft enamel pins, but we also make stylish enamel keychains.  The production process is generally the same and the pricing is just a shade more (as for the ring and assembly).  The benefit is you can provide an entirely new SKU to your online shop and re-introduce an already great selling graphic in a new medium.

To start the inspiration process, here are a selection of top 9 keychains we’ve made at your favorite locally ran pin manufacture: True Metal Works.


1. Good Witch / Bad Witch by Last Craft Designs

From the mystical dark arts, Last Craft Designs has been one of True Metal Works first customers.  Coming correct always with great artwork, this keychain is no different.  Clocking in 3mm thick, this double-sided gold plated hard enamel keychain shows both sides of your personality with a flick of the keys. Last Craft Designs has done extremely well with these keychains, and it’s been a staple of their collection for almost 2 years.


2. Luna Moth Keychain by Rose Pink Moon

This uber detailed solid silver and black hard enamel keychain has a balance like no other.  Extremely smooth finish with a head that doubles for keychain clasp.  Rose Pink Moon did a great job designing this keychain to encase the jump ring while keeping the design aesthetic.  With designs like this, the one lady show at Rose Pink Moon soon won’t be.


3.  Bean Size Bottle Opener by Messenger Coffee Co

Located in Kansas City, MO this coffee empire created this double-sided laser-etched antique brass keychain as a homage to the coffee bean gauge tools traditionally used to measure beans.  Measured at almost 6mm thick, this beast of a keychain, can open cold brew bottles along with their sister bottles consisting of barley and hops.


4.  Chicken Bone Nowison by Shake Junt

Known for creating their own slang (*chickenbone-nowison) and some of the best branding in skateboarding, this chicken bone Shake Junt bottle opener keychain was an immediate classic.  A double-sided hard enamel keychain with shiny silver plating features brand information on one side of the stick, while their iconic SJ branding is shown on the other.  A bottle can be opened from no matter which way you grab this drumstick.  Chomp!


5.  Baker Stacked Keychain by Baker Skateboards

The original bad-boy brand Baker Skateboards headed by legendary Andrew Reynolds has been one of the top brands in skateboarding for decades.  This one-sided soft enamel gold plated double jump ring keychain is needs nothing else.   Nuff said.


6.  BD Keychain by Black Dog Coffeehouse

You hear those dogs barking? A Kansas based coffee shop with a home town feel, brands their shops with an amazing canine theme.  Introducing the antique silver Black Dog Coffeehouse.  This keychain is veristle as this not only can be plated as seen above (antique silver) but also can be filled with enamel for various colors.  If you like dogs, why wouldn’t you like this keychain?


7.  Lucky Clover Keychain by CloverScout

Clover Scout is a Los Angeles based collaborative group between artists Ellen Surrey, Patrick Hruby, and Loris Lora.  Friends who design cute items much like this lucky charm keychain.  An entirely double-sided gold plated 4 leaf clover keychain is as lucky as they come.  With tiny highlights of color, they can easily change plating or color without any redesign.   And imagine you spent your entire life looking for a 4 leaf clover and it was right in front of you this entire time.


8.  VX1000 Bolt and Bottle Opener Keychain by Filmbot

Skateboard griptape company Filmbot Grip made these ultra-unique bolt and bottle opener keychain set.  They not only help set up your board, but they will help you open your bottle too.  Made with antique silver plating it gives that matte look, but with the darkened areas to showcase the linework.   Check out this funny Filmbot commercial if you have time.


9.  JVN Keychain by DooStuff

Can you believe?  Seriously.  JVN (aka Jonathan Van Ness) is a god among men and this dedication keychain is well deserved.  Designed with hard enamel glitter, shiny silver plating and includes pink screenprint verbiage.  When you add a keyring plus crab claw clasp it’s perfection.

Top 10 of the Cutest Animal Enamel Pins

We practically melt at the sight of these cute animal enamel pins. No doubt, we are always on the lookout for more of these cute little enamel pins to add to our collection. Well, it seems your search is over, as we have collated the cutest animal enamel pins just for you.  Check them out!

1. Love Goes Beyond Species by Alba Paris

Creative and insightful art by Alba Paris, this beautiful enamel pin invokes a sense of empathy for our furry and non-furry neighbors. Alba Paris is an insightful vegan artist who communicates her passion through these amazing pins. She is no doubt a rare type of artist-activist who has found a balance between her love for arts and animals.

2. Boston Terrier by Joe Castrucci

No doubt, Boston terriers have snuggled their way through our hearts. Created by our favorite skateboard designer, Joe Castrucci for his Habitat Skateboards, this cute soft enamel pin is a fan-favorite. Mind you, there are more cute Habitat X Pindejo pins for you to check out.

3. Koi Fishes By Katy Lipscomb

Searching for a cute enamel pin with a good fortune charm? Well, you are in luck as this cute enamel pin features twin koi fishes, which are symbols of good fortune, luck, and perseverance. No doubt, this is one inspiring design by Katy Lipscomb. She’s an amazing water-colorist and illustrator with a flair of creating awesome artworks about animals.

4. “OK DOG” By Anoosha Syed

Yeah, this definitely ranks high on our list of cutest animal enamel pins. The “OK DOG” enamel design is not only adorable, but also a perfect accessory for your jackets and baseball caps. Created by Anoosha Syed, a Toronto-based illustrator from Pakistan, the “OK DOG” is one of her astounding creative designs. Anoosha’s work features bright-eyed cartoon characters bursting with charm and an overdose of cuteness. No doubt, she infuses life into her characters.

5. Howl by Howl Mercantile & Coffee

Nothing tugs more at the heart than the cry of a lone wolf under a full moon. This cute enamel pins perfectly captures the emotion of this moment. What’s more? It’s gold and black backdrop makes it a perfect fit for formal wears or camping expedition. No doubt, this is one of the cutest animal enamel pin created by Howl Mercantile.  It’s a full moon tonight!

6. Game of Bones by Matt Doering

Matt Doering is a DreamWorks illustrator artist who has come a long way to become one of the best in his niche. In his interview, Matt places emphasis on the influence of his grandfather whose dream was to become a Disney animator. The “Game of Bones” is a great extraordinary and cute enamel pin inspired by the fiction Game of Thrones Character, Tyrion Lannister.

7.  Little Leaf Pin by Rachel McAlister

Here’s a simple yet cute enamel pin to include in your accessories. This artwork is designed by Rachel McAlister, an accomplished 2D, and 3D animator, with a flair for infusing life into her designs.

8. Yin-Yang by Jijidraws

Light and dark, yin and yang, the stars and the moon, all work together. No doubt, the glow in the dark pin represents the balance of life through an inspiring artwork that shows two cute animals interlocked in a yin-yang pattern. Jijidraws is an illustrator and designers based in the United States. Her artworks center around body positive and macabre-themes.

9. BonBunBakery by Aleasha Acevedo

Nothing brings on the cute factor faster than a bunny. Designed by Aleasha Acevedo, the Bon Bun is hands-down one of the cutest animal enamel pin on this list.  Doubt me?

10. Boogie by Lili Chin

Rounding out the list, we have Lili Chin.  Lili is an illustrator with vast work experience in most illustrator realms. Today, she draws inspiration from her blue-eyed Boston terrier, Boogie, and other types of animals. Most of her artworks revolve around animals and to create awareness about their wellbeing.

Cute-ness meter to 11.

Still reeling from that cuteness overload? Well, our top 10 list of the cutest animal enamel pins are just the tip of the iceberg. At True Metal Works, we can bring your cute and inspiring artwork to life via our stylish and durable enamel pins.

Start a quote today.  Send us a doodle, and we’ll see what we can do.

Make Your Custom Enamel Pins Stand Out

So, you just got a nice new batch of custom enamel pins small quantity from your enamel pins manufacturer and now you want to post them on Instagram. After all, everyone knows that nothing really exists unless you post it on social media! Besides, this is also a great way to market your Los Angeles based accessories!

You put your pin on the nearest table, whip out your iPhone and take a pic. That looks terrible! The background is dull, the pin is in shadows and there’s way too much glare! You can’t possibly post this pic! So, what’s a person to do? Well, here are some great tips for on how to photograph your enamel pins so they stand out on Instagram.

5 Tips for Photographing Enamel Pins

#1 Choose the Best Background

When you are taking pictures of an inanimate object, you need to have a background that will draw attention to the item and not detract from it. This will make your picture look eye-catching and attractive to those scrolling past it on Instagram.  Pay special attention to these background elements:

Color Me Bad

Start by choosing a colorful background. Make sure the color you choose complements the colors in your pin without overpowering it. For instance, if you are photographing a pin with red details in it, you can choose a red background in a tone that is slightly lighter or darker than the colors in the pin. Stay away from using colors that are too matchy, matchy with the main color of the pin.

Position Your Pin

Because your pin does not have a flat backing, it may look a bit cold and austere against a hard background. You may also have trouble balancing it. Photographing it on a soft background like a blanket, pillow, or gauzy scarf is a great way to solve this problem. Just be sure, once again, to choose a color that complements your pin. If your fabric has a pattern, make sure it is not too overwhelming.

Lapel on a Lapel

Another good idea is to photograph your pin as it should be worn, say on the lapel of a jacket. This will give your customers great style ideas and make them want to ‘get the look’. If you photograph your pins with other pins that complement them, this could be an effective way to upsell your products.

#2 Get the Lighting Right

Getting the right lighting for photos of your pins can be a matter of trial and error. You will need to work with the lighting of the room as well as the flash of your camera.

If you are an artist who creates enamel pins to sell and need to take pictures of your pins regularly, you may want to invest in better lighting options.  That way, you’ll be able to photograph your pins perfectly every time.

Plus, after a while, it is likely you will have the system down so photographing your pins will be a quick and easy process.

#3 Choose Your Pin Location Wisely

To make your pin stand out, you will want to switch up the location of your pins in the photos. Try this:  Imagine that your background is divided into thirds. Then, find where the thirds intersect and put your pin and that junction.

Having trouble finding your center? Not to worry! If your picture is not completely centred, there are cropping tools available to help you get the perfect perspective!

#4 Beware of the Glare

Because enamel pins are shiny in nature, it is likely there will be some amount of glare on them. There are many things you can do to try and deal with the glare.

An amateur photographer might try something like changing the position of the pin, taking pictures in different lights or at different times of day until glare is eliminated. They can also use white paper or cardstock to bounce the light off another surface and minimize glare.

If you are on a more professional level, you may have tools at your disposal that will help to minimize glare. Either a polarizer or lens hood will work for this purpose. If you have the right editing skills, you may also be able to eliminate the glare in post-processing.

#5 Add an Engaging Caption – and Don’t Forget the #Hashtag!

Now that you have a great looking picture, you will want to post it in such a way that it is sure to get the maximum amounts of likes and comments.

Use hashtags that are both relevant to your picture and topical. Add a caption that is brief but appeals to consumers on an emotional level. Post at a time of day when there is a maximum amount of traffic on the Instagram site.

These are all great ways to make your custom enamel pins small quantity stand out on Instagram. Using these methods are sure to attract attention to your product and hopefully, boost sales for your company. Good luck and happy posting!

Written by Rock and Roll Super Mom (Marissa Bergen)



Into the flywheel boys! Jim Collins & Tim Ferriss Podcast #361

Ok, finished my dog walk and speed walking hike while listening to an amazing podcast of Tim Ferriss and Jim Collins.   Jim Collins is the author who wrote “Built to Last” and “Good to Great”. Coincidentally, I had recently purchased the “Built To Last” book at the Last Bookstore (in Los Angeles).  I had heard of the book before and it was on sale (used of course), so I thought why not. So when this podcast air’d, I had yet to dig into this book. My thoughts is by listening to the author it was going to help me see what I was getting into.  I am happy to announce, I am more excited to read this book now more than ever.

Also I am a data-driven mover.  I try my best to quantify all the collection of data before I move in a direction and make the best decision.  My recent “research” was reading reviews to find the best cordless headphones. Yeah, I know.. not that cool, but I’m a buy once-good quality-take care of it kinda guy.  PS: I ended up purchasing the new Jabra 65t active from Best Buy (on sale of course).

Jim Collins seems to have the same method, except he’s on crack and he’s not buying headphones. His decades of research and insight with Fortune 500 companies and how they’re built, is fascinating to me.

In this new Tim Ferriss Podcast, with Jim Collins, he goes into details about a great many things. Here are a couple of notable things and data that I pulled from this podcast.


Levelling up.  The Level 5 Leadership

The Jim Collins team had come up with this concept of Level 5 Leadership.  All the previous levels are what you’d expect,

“Level one would be individual capabilities. That would be at the base of the pyramid, and then you go from individual capabilities to level two, which is you get really good at playing well with others. Good team skills. Level three, you would learn how to manage, then above level three becomes level four. You go from managing to learning to lead. Then there was a higher level. That higher level was the Level 5. The Level 5, well you could be a leader as a level four. To be a Level 5 leader you had to go to the next level of the hierarchy and add in this ambition for some things bigger than yourself with humility and with will.”

This is fascinating to me and oddly extremely logical. Where level 5 is one step past an already traditionally great leader because the leader conveys a purpose bigger than him/her self.   Something we all strive for.

“An Ambition for some things bigger than themselves with humility and with will. “

I loved the book “Ego is the Enemy” by Ryan Holiday, and this fits in perfectly.  Once you realize this company is not about you (on a conceptual sense), then you can truly do something great.  

To the group of readers, most of you are individual creative artists so naturally by default, it is about you.  But I think we can both see that the general concept rings true.

The genius with 1000 helpers.

There is a concept of being a genius with 1000 helpers.  Some companies are built just like this. As long as those 1000 helpers are willing to help, and the genius continues to be a genius.  Can this sustain? Are you a genius with 1000 helpers? Can your business withstand something that removes you and still can run?

Instant Napping

Napping.  It kinda goes on a tangent here, but a great tangent.  Basically stats about how napping can change your day. You might think, I need to be the machine that never stops.  *I still feel that way, and have a hard time slowing down. But how the best leaders take naps, it helps you become a better leader, mother, father or friend.

Thinking about it, I am getting this confused with the podcast I listened to yesterday. “Timing is Everything” by Daniel Pink on the Tony Robbins podcast: (  – Luckily for you, they are both good listens, so I don’t mind co-mingling some info.

The Flywheel Effect

Lastly, the flywheel.  I thought this is such a great concept.  If you don’t know what I flywheel is (I didn’t, so I googled it). Imagine the spinning wheel like a stationary cycle. (*they have them in cars, and tons of other machines).  One kick on the on the petal makes the wheel spin. This first kick is always the toughest, you have to put all your effort into it. Its basically the hardest kick you’ll do. Once its moving, the second push makes the wheel spin faster and spin longer because you’re adding to momentum you’ve already started and so on.   But lets back this up, let’s say you spend all this time for the first kick and crack the first rotation, but then you stop. Guess what, when the wheel stops and it will take almost as much effort to move it again.

But the concept is if you can create a business like a flywheel, your business will grow cyclically and use the momentum.   Jim Collins provides an example from Amazon.

“ If you lower prices on more offerings, then you almost can’t help but go down to the next step in the flywheel.  Picture a circle going around to increase customer visits. (So if you lower prices) you increase customer visits, then you almost can’t help but get more third-party sellers. And if you get more third-party sellers, well, then you almost can’t help but expand the store and expand distribution. And if you do that, you can’t help but grow revenues for fixed costs. If you do that, you can’t help but be able to lower prices on more offerings, which is going to attract more customer visits, which is going to attract third-party sellers, which is going to expand the store and extend distribution, and you can eventually buy Whole Foods and all the other stuff. You’re going to grow revenues for fixed costs and then, boom, lower prices on more stuff, etc., etc.”

And here was the secret sauce behind the concept.

“What I came to see is that people didn’t necessarily really have a flywheel, because they didn’t understand something deeply important about what a flywheel really is. A flywheel is an underlying, compelling logic of momentum. It’s not a list of steps. Drawn as a circle, called the flywheel. Rather, there’s an inevitability built in. If you do A, you almost can’t help but do B. And if you do B, you almost can’t help but do C. And if you do C, you almost can’t help but do D. And around and around. And it’s driven around because there’s an underlying connection. There’s a logical sequence that builds dynamic momentum because A drives B drives C drives D and around back to the top of the loop.”

I love this.  This is everything in life, especially in habit-forming.  Things will eventually happen by default. Where it DRIVES the next step.  Like you can’t control it. It WILL happen, so be prepared.

An example is a basic concept for the readers and of course a bit of my TMW bias.

  1. If you sell pins, you will gain more notoriety and money.
  2. If you earn notoriety and/or make money from pins will means it might help you work (day job) less.  *(This won’t work exact, but you know what I mean.)
  3. If you work less, you will have time to create more.
  4. Creating more can mean more notoriety and/or pins.

“Making more pins can mean more money, more money means less time working, which means more creativity, and so on.”

( I know, I know.. shameless self-promotion.)

Obviously, it’s a super primitive form of the flywheel, but the concept is still relevant.

Ok, so finished my last sip, which means I realize I’m rambling. I just finished my hike, right as I finished the podcast, so I’m jumbling all my ideas and concepts I obtained on a breakfast computer tippy-tap.  If you have some time (about 2h 30m) or can break it up 1h 15 mins. And you like all this kinda stuff. Data-driven knowledge, the why behind it, I recommend it. Now back to my waffles, thank you!

Why You Need To Include Custom Enamel Pins in Your Accessories

Wanna know a secret?  It’s the little things that make a big impact.  

A new pop and artsy culture are brewing and it’s bound to transform our lives. From millennials to senior citizens, we just can’t have enough of enamel pins.  Although these custom enamel pins have been around for centuries, they have become more than just a ceremonial accessory.  

Heck! They are a way to showcase and introduce ourselves to the world. No doubt, Enamel pins are the new “cool”

Still in doubt on why you need to include these cute little metal fashion statements?  Well, check out the top 3 reasons why you need to design custom enamel pins in your accessories.


Homies Help Homies Custom Enamel Pin. Manufactured by True Metal Works

Creates Awareness for your Brand & Voice

How can you create awareness about your brand in an event or conference?  I supposed you could walk around with huge advertisement placards or custom branded teeshirts. 

Rather, you would go for a more subtle approach by designing customized enamel pins to spark curiosity.  These lapel pins provide a subtle, stylish, and in-tune way of advertising about your brand.

Furthermore, you can select soft or hard enamel lapels depending on your style. Not to mention, there’s no better to boost your employees’ morale by providing free customized pins for them to rep.


Everything Will Be OK custom enamel pin. Manufactured by True Metal Works

Jailbreaks Your Creativity!

We all desire something different from the norm. Sometimes, we need to add a little dash of creativity to our blazers, suits, jackets, sweaters, and even dresses.

Customized lapel pins keep you in touch with your creative side. What’s more? It gives you the opportunity to express yourself, without having to change your outfit.

More so, it’s a great way to express your feelings. You could decide to wear a “smiley” lapel pin or a “eat a dick” enamel pin, depending on how you feel at that moment.  You can place your custom made pins pretty much anywhere because creativity cannot be contained.


Love Sasha Velour Soft Enamel Pin. Manufactured by True Metal Works

It’s Inexpensive Form of Art

Let’s face it: not everyone can afford to buy art. In fact, millennials despite their love for the arts, are often reluctant to fork out cash for artworks.  But, for a fraction of the price a custom designed enamel pin can be an opportunity for someone to support a favorite artist without worrying about the cost. 

Providing you with an avenue for fans to support creative and artistic enamel pin entrepreneurs, like yourself.

Do you need one more reason why you need to include metal pins in your accessories?. Well, I’ve got the perfect one to sum it up – it’s a great way to show support for a cause.

You can create awareness for a charitable cause or issue via enamel pins. How? People are often curious about the message behind the pin, and this gives you the leverage to talk about your reasons.  Voice your opinion!

Wrapping The Pin Up

Enamel custom-made pins are a sure-fire way to set us apart in a highly competitive society.  You never know, it might even help you to connect with your inner self, especially when your inner self is saying “fuck you world!”  So, live free and express yourself with these customized pins.

The Life & Journey of Matt Doering, Part 2

This is an ongoing series meant to explore what it means to be an artist and how you can go from artist to entrepreneur.

One of our clients is Dreamworks illustrator Matt Doering. We recently got to talk to him about his journey as an artist – In part 1, he shared his origin story (if you haven’t read that yet, check it out). This is part 2, where he shares how he became an entrepreneur.

As he was growing up, Matt knew he wanted to be an animator. Thanks to his grandfather’s early influence, Matt knew his “what” and his “why” long before he knew the “how”. As in, how was he going to break into the tight animation community?

The Necessity of Cons

Matt Doering, Dreamworks Illustrator
The man, the artist, Matt Doering!

Matt knew he needed exposure to the people he wanted to meet.  The answer seemed clear: getting into the convention circuit. By getting a table at animation conventions Matt knew he’d have an opportunity to be around the people he needed to meet.

And it worked. Matt’s first con was in 2012 at the Disney Animation Expo. He got a cheap exhibitors table and offered prints for sale. Though he did sell some prints, the real value came from having an exhibitors badge. That badge gave him credibility he might not have had otherwise, leveling the playing field between him and important figures in the animation world.

From Exposure to Entrepreneurship

For a couple of years Matt’s goal was to gain as much exposure as he could, meet the right people, and try to advance his career. By 2015 his plan had worked and he had broken into the animation industry. From that point his focus switched from exposure to entrepreneurship. He wanted to start making a return on his table investments.

So he started to strategize and come up with unique product ideas to bring attention to himself and his art. He wanted to focus on creating products to sell and building his own personal brand.

One of his first products was log art. Using slices of wood, Matt transferred his art onto the rustic surface, trying to match the drawing to the wood grain and rural aesthetic. His log art became pretty well-known, and he moved on to another unusual art form. Cardboard.

Matt’s 3D cardboard art, though interesting, was slightly less popular. With each iteration of his products, Matt learned a bit more about what people wanted and how he could provide that.

Then he discovered enamel pins.

Why Pins? Why Not!

Emotional Crisis Llama enamel pin by Matt Doering.

“As far as I’m concerned, enamel pins get the best bang for the buck at cons,” Matt said. “They’re popular, don’t take up a lot of room, there’s good profit, they can go in many different contexts. So many good reasons for selling pins!”

Matt’s first pins, his Sassy Llama pins, were created in 2016. He found that people loved collecting his pins and it was fun to create around the llama theme. His hipster llama, party llama, and emotional crisis llama have all been big sellers at cons – and in his Etsy store.

“It’s hard to keep up with trends,” Matt said. “I like to focus on pins because they’re easy to do and pretty fun.”

The Strategy Behind the Art

While Matt has had success with his enamel pin designs, he’s also got his eye on the future. He wants his side business to grow, but not at the expense of his main career in animation.

Right now he exhibits at about four cons a year. Over the next couple of years he has plans to step back from the shows and scale up his pin collections and Etsy store. He’s toying with different pin ideas, including turning a set of Game of Thrones postcards he created into a pin series.

“You have to think ‘Is there a market for it? How can I get my idea funded?’ In any small business there’s a practical side, it’s

Tyrion Lannister pug, from the Game of Bones collection by Matt Doering.

not all just fun and creation. It’s about having a hook, having what you think your audience might want, and figuring out the best way to deliver it” Matt shared.

Career Arc of an Artist

Matt’s perspective on his career path wasn’t born overnight. It came from thinking about multiple points of view and having conversations with lots of different people.

“All throughout my career, from when I was just starting out to today, I’ve talked everything over with people I trust. We’ve had debates and I’ve taken it all in. At difficult points I got really good advice, and I tried my best to listen to it all, then trust my instinct,” Matt said.

“I’ve taken a lot of calculated risks, so far. I’ve tried different opportunities, always with my eye on my ultimate goal. ‘Is this choice going to get me closer to the thing I actually want?’ I always trust that I’m moving in the right direction, even when I’m not sure that it’s really going to work out. There has to be a balance between the logical and emotional sides of the brain along with a healthy dose of trust.”

Advice From an Animator Entrepreneur

The best advice Matt has for aspiring artists, is to trust that it will eventually happen. You have to take risks and chances to keep moving forward, but at the same time, you have to make sure you can survive along the way.

Matt’s journey is far from over, and though he’s achieved a lot in the years since he left his small town in West Virginia, he knows he still has a long way to go.

“I’m excited to see where things go with my business. Pretty soon I’m going to have some time to take a step back to do some reflection and figure out my next course of action. Think about where I want to go, what I want to pursue. There are lots of new phases coming up!” Matt said.

No matter where his path takes him next, we feel sure that Matt will come out on top.

The Life & Journey of Matt Doering, Part 1

Art by Matt Doering Art by Matt Doering

This is an ongoing series meant to explore what it means to be an artist and how you can go from artist to entrepreneur.

One of our clients is Dreamworks illustrator Matt Doering. We recently got to talk to him about his journey as an artist – how he started and how he got to Dreamworks. We also talked about how he became an entrepreneur, but we’ll save that for part 2 in this series!

A Would-Be Animator’s Legacy

When Matt Doering says he grew up in a small town, he’s not waxing poetic. The town in West Virginia was literally small. The

Matt Doering, Dreamworks Illustrator
The man, the artist, Matt Doering!

nicest bar was a Buffalo Wild Wings and the closest Starbucks was 45 minutes away.

Even as a young child Matt showed artistic promise. Neither of his parents were particularly artistic – that all came from his grandfather, the true artist in the family, and the one who took Matt under his wing.

“My grandfather was very visual arts focused. He saw Snow White in the theaters as a young man, and that film inspired him to want to become a Disney animator. He got an art scholarship, but wasn’t able to take advantage of it,” Matt shared.

World War II stopped Matt’s grandfather from pursuing his artistic dream. He enlisted in the armed forces and went off to fight for his country.

But the war wasn’t all that occupied his mind. Just before enlisting he had married his sweetheart and they had a child. Once the war was over, Matt’s grandfather knew he had a duty to take care of his family – and that didn’t include an arts education. He went to work to support his wife and young children (the second one came along after the war) and left his dream of becoming an animator behind.

A New Dream

Matt’s grandfather never gave up art completely. Matt has vivid memories of his grandfather always sketching, painting, drawing. He always had a pencil and a sketchbook handy and would take any opportunity to doodle and draw.

Then, when Matt was old enough to put crayon to paper, it was like he was born anew. Matt showed an early interest, and talent, in drawing, and his grandfather did everything he could to cultivate that interest. He taught Matt how to color, forced him to watch old animated shows like Looney Toons and the original Mickey Mouse.

Matt visited his grandparents often and he and his grandfather would sit together, coloring, drawing. At the age of five, Matt entered and won a church coloring contest for Easter. And, at the age of six, Matt already knew what he wanted to be when he grew up: a Disney animator.

His grandfather did everything in his power to make sure Matt had all the opportunities that he himself never got to take advantage of. That wish, that directive, always stuck with Matt’s father – especially after Matt’s grandfather passed when Matt was just seven years old. Matt’s parents made sure he took art classes and had drawing instruction. They provided him the tools and opportunities to learn, just like his grandfather would have wanted.

An Illustrator’s Journey

Art by Matt Doering
Matt made dis!

It was thanks to that loving support from his family that Matt was able to achieve his dream. He graduated from Savannah College of Art and Design with a degree in Sequential Arts (which is like storyboarding). He took a ton of classes in hand-drawn animation, then focused on illustration and concept development.

His ultimate goal was to work on a feature-length Disney film – until Disney closed their Florida studio.

Despite that setback, Matt still knew exactly what he wanted to do, even if he wasn’t 100% sure how he was going to do it. Even with an arts degree, he knew he had a lot to learn, and he opened himself up to opportunities.

Even if those opportunities didn’t quite fit the roadmap.

“I’ve always been very open to opportunity and followed the opportunities wherever they presented themselves. Some of them seemed like random jobs, but I chased each opportunity, from graphic design to illustration to animation. I got to travel to different places, live in different cities across the country, get different tastes of different types of city life,” he said.

Matt’s first job was working on mobile games for Facebook gaming. Though it wasn’t exactly animation, it gave him the opportunity to hone his graphics skills – and he got to live in both New York and Baltimore.

From there he took a job working for Disney Interactive Studios in Eugene, OR, working on mobile games. He got to go back to the small town life, but still work for a major player in the industry.

But he still had his eye on the real prize. And it wasn’t long before he got exactly where he was trying to go: Disney animation.

It wasn’t feature-length animation, but that didn’t matter to Matt.

“I remember being in first grade and telling people I wanted to be a Disney animator when I grew up,” Matt said. “And I know my grandfather had the same dream. As soon as I stepped onto the Disney lot, I felt like I achieved that dream for both of us.”

Now Matt is happily working at Dreamworks animation as a background design supervisor for an unannounced Netflix series.

“I came in as the background designer, the first one hired on the show,” Matt said. “I got to establish the look of the background, the ‘main model pack’, which is all of the key backgrounds.”

For now, he’s perfectly happy exactly where he is: in LA, working for Dreamworks animation, trying to build his own artistic brand, fight expectation, and be his own artist.

In part 2 of Matt’s story, we’ll talk more about his journey from artist to entrepreneur.  Click here for Part 2

Go Vegan with Alba Paris

Alba Paris is an artist and animal activist based out of Los Angeles. Originally from sunny Spain, Alba grew up drawing and painting with her father and grandfather. She practiced her art almost every day and grew to be an accomplished artist.

Though born with a paintbrush in her hand, her art and activism didn’t collide until she was an adult. It was then that she saw a video that seared a haunting image into her psyche: that of a horse being slaughtered. After that, she no longer wanted to eat meat and became a vegetarian.

Still, that didn’t feel like she was doing enough.

Rather than simply giving up meat, Alba wanted to do more for animals. She started volunteering at animal shelters and caring for abandoned dogs and cats. She created an online forum in Spain where people could come to talk about animal rights and how to help animals in general.

Soon passionate vegan activists had taken over the forum. Despite their good intentions, and despite her own foray into veganism, Alba felt very put off by the vegan activists’ demanding, in-your-face style of arguing for their beliefs. And so Alba turned to her art to help her express how she felt about animal rights and animal cruelty.

A Message that Connected

That’s when she first drew the pin-up model.

Her now-famous image, “We Can Do It! Go Vegan”, was based on the Rosie the Riveter and became her personal avatar. It helped her convey the way she felt about going vegan and being cruelty-free – and it was an image that people immediately connected with. Before long, the image had gone viral and was being shared all over the Internet. 

“I didn’t think two years ago that this was possible! I didn’t think that people who weren’t also artists would be interested. But they are! I can’t believe that this is what I get to do for a living – create art around my passion, everything together, it’s crazy!” Alba said.  “Art is truly what connects people.”

When Alba started her journey as an activist and felt turned off by the way vegan activists approached her, she learned she was not alone. Other people felt put off, too. People who approached differently, might be able to see their point and join their cause.

“I want to find the people who can’t look at the slaughter videos right now. Maybe after seeing my art, they will want to be more involved,” Alba said.

Alba’s goal is to get people to be involved with animal activism. “People come to me who don’t know what to do, and I try to get them to do something with the animals, to try a vigil or take some kind of action on their own,” she said.

From Pin Up Model to Enamel Pins

From her first activist drawings, her foray into creating enamel pins was a long time coming – but well worth it.

“The first time I offered a pin it went out of stock within 24 hours! I had no idea it would be like this! When I first became aware of pins, I saw how simple they are and how much people are using them. I realized my art lent itself well with simple lines. Now I’m restocking once, sometimes twice, a month!” she said.

Now she’s working on some new designs. “I’m working on two new pins right now and I’m getting ready to reorder another one. When I get them in, it’s a crazy couple of days with very little sleep so I can get all the orders out in time.”

Like a little wearable gateway to bigger ideas and bigger conversations, Alba Paris’s enamel activist pins truly are in style.

Remake your enamel pin with a new metal plating twist.

plating square at True Metal Works plating square at True Metal Works

So you’ve already made enamel lapel pins with us at True Metal Works and now it’s time want to make another batch. Though you’re thinking maybe you want to spice it up a bit. We’re here to give you a couple tips that might help. When you re-make pins with us after you’ve already created a mold, it’s just about half the price. Send us an email to see exactly how much. Onward to the tips:

1. Make color enamel changes.
The magic of a little color change, it can change the entire look of your enamel pin. See these lovely ladies below, I’d say the color change did the job.

(pin by Last Craft Designs)

2. Change the metal plating.
It’s the same concept as number 1 above, but now your changing your metal plating. Let’s say you have a major portion or even just a fine but noticeable line of your pin was gold plated. Now imagine, how would it look with shiny silver plating or even a dyed black plating? After you’ve mastered that concept, take it to the next step and change both the metal plating AND color enamel. Boom! Mind blown!

(pin by Bostpin Terrier)

3. Change it up with a hard enamel to a soft enamel or vice versa.
You can go from a hard enamel to a soft enamel to add a bit of a 3D feel, or click your pins up a notch and give them high end feel with a hard enamel, either way, it will give your pin a different feel then before, which might be all you need. Learn more about hard enamel and soft enamel.

(pin by Filmbot Grip)
If there is something you’d like us to explain, send us an email.
Click here to view more True Metal Guides