You are here


February 14, 2018

The printed word: over the last 500 years it’s been a necessary tool to spread information, express ideas, and of course create internet memes.  And over time typeface design has evolved from handwritten manuscripts to the eventual ease of the digital age.

Today, with the right knowledge of setting type, you can make your button convey your message in both language and design. We take a look at the Button Museum, our greatest source for inspiration for typeface styles, to see how typography has been used on pins for years.

This 1971 political pin from the National Women’s Political Caucus used the slogan, “Women! Make Policy, Not Coffee” to encourage more women to seek more active roles in politics and elections. Making this message easy to read was important. Futura, along with other geometric typefaces, denotes modernism and utility, making it the perfect candidate to delivery the NWPC’s rallying cry.

Created in 1922 by Oswald Bruce Cooper, Cooper Black can be classified as an Old Style typeface—which simply means some of its characteristics can be linked back to historically used book faces.

In this variation of Cooper Black in this 1956 Kentucky Derby Festival pin, notice the added flair to the descenders of the letters “h” and “s” and the generous use of thick lines for added contrast. Both of which are common in old style lettering techniques.

Similar to the previous button, this “be a good guy” pin features a category of face that falls under a modern typography. Types that are included in this group have a stylish yet dynamic factor to them that comes from the use of thick and thin strokes. Bodoni and Didot for example are modern typefaces that were produced in the late 18th and early 19th century. Prominent names in this style of type were in Giambattista Bodoni, Firmin Didot, and Germany Justus Erich Walbaum.

Sometimes the choice of font can add another layer of irony and humor to the text! “Thou Shalt Not Hassle”, a funny enough phrase itself is accompanied by the decorative script, Wilhelm Klingspor Gotisch is reminiscent of calligraphy. It’s an ornamented typeface that reminds us of a hand-written quality but also has a uniformity that can be used for titles and headers.

There are some typefaces that make their own place in history! Just looking at this locking pin button, anyone can see that the “I’m an Oma!” letters are inspired by the 1968 Olympic logo design. For the world games taking place in Mexico that year, the graphic design team which included Lance Wyman, Beatrice Colle, Jose Luis Ortiz, and Jan Stornfeld, found creative influence from Opt Art of the 60s.

Just like the history of the pinback button, the history of fonts and typography can be traced back hundreds of years ago. For more inspiration for your next button project, check out the rest of our design-centered posts or subscribe to our Design Newsletter.

January 24, 2018

As home of the world’s only pinback Button Museum, we are constantly harvesting inspiration from the buttons that line the walls of our building. The free museum (open Monday-Friday 10-4pm) offers itself as a well of creativity and is filled with pins that have us reflect on the past, laugh, and even leave us feeling positive about ourselves!

We gathered some of our favorite buttons that boost our self-esteem and leave a smile on our face:

1. What You See Is What You Get

This is a popular expression that became wide-spread by Flip Wilson with his performance of Geraldine in “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In” where he played a drag character during the late 1960’s. Today this motto, especially in button form, is a declaration of confidence!

2. Support Sloppiness

Instead of constantly feeling like you have to be the person with multiple to-do lists or color-coded folder— try embracing your unsystematic ways! This pin was originally produced by Topps. A company usually best known for its sports memorabilia, also produced the “Wise Guy” pins during the 1960’s that featured  satire/parody for novelty and humor.

3. Normal Neurotic

The best part about this “Normal Neurotic” button (besides the typeface) is its message. We’re all a little erratic on the inside and that’s total normal! This button emphasizes that the set of quirks and traits that make you, “you”, are something to be celebrated on a 1.25 inch round button.

4. Huggable

Let people know you’re probably the best hugger they’ve ever met with a button that states the fact.

5. I Refuse to Grow Up

Like Peter Pan and the Lost Boys have taught us, sometimes it’s good to hold onto that spark of adolescence. Wear this button to let all the other adults in your life know your stubborn ways like eating dessert before dinner, riding a scooter to work, and purposely mismatching your socks won’t be going away anytime soon.

6. I Know About Me

One of the most empowering statements you can wear on your jacket! By displaying this pin to the world, we guarantee people will ask start a conversation with the purpose to get to know you too!

7. I Am So Smart I Make Myself Sick

Taking a lesson from Nebbishes, sometimes we need a button to remind us to bask in our own genius. The comic character was originally created by artist Herb Gardner and was featured in his strip “The Nebbishes” in the Chicago Tribune. The comic went on to be picked up by about 70 major papers in the country and ran from 1959-1961. The character Nebbishes was this small, white, blob-like figure who often used self-deprecating mottos and sayings—however we found a way to make this one have a positive spin!

8. When I’m Good I’m Very Good But When I’m Bad I’m Even Better

This button features the classic line from the 1933 film, “I’m No Angel” by the main character Tira, who was portrayed by Mae West. The movie tells the story of a woman who is seeking a better life and rises to fame appealed to Depression era audiences. The pin that can be interpreted a number of ways leaves us wanting to celebrate that “good” things come in a variety of different packages.

Now that you’re feeling inspired and cherished, it’s time to make your own buttons that express your personal attitude! Needing help getting started on a text design? Don’t worry! We have design services available for any button idea big or small.

December 27, 2017

From the start, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has been an organization pushing boundaries to explore and uncover our galaxy. Since 1958 the mission of NASA has been to educate and inform the American public about their discoveries in formats that reach many—such as the 1969 Apollo 11 moon flight being broadcast live across the nation to the multiple academic articles published every year. One of the most strategic methods used was to produce buttons that put the information of their research and missions right into the public’s hands.

Let’s take a look back through history at the pinbacks that helped spread the message of NASA:

Voyaging Around the Earth

As a part of Project Mercury, astronaut John Glenn became the first person to orbit the Earth (and the third American in space) on Feburary 20th 1962. On board the “Friendship 7”, the mission itself nearly 5 hours. Glenn quickly became a popular household name in America with multiple buttons representing his bravery.

Only a few months later, we had our second courageous mission to orbit the Earth. On May 24th, 1962 Scott Carpenter became the second American to revolve around the planet, and the first person to eat solid food in space in the Aurora 7 space capsule.

Gemini Missions 

The most notable achievement of the Gemini flights 1 and 2 was that those missions were some of the first “manned” spaceflights, as in our pilot Gus Grissom and his partner John Young manually changed the orbit of their craft. After the date of their launch, March 23, 1965, the men conducted radiation and cell growth experiments. The third mission under the Gemini name was nicknamed “The Unsinkable Molly Brown” after a popular Broadway show at the time.

In 1965 the Gemini 4 (Gemini IV) was the first NASA operation that worked with the Houston Mission Control Center. The mission was publicized on as the first spacewalk attempted by an American, Edward White, who spacewalked for over fifteen minutes.

The Success of the Apollo Treks

The Apollo 8, the first spacecraft piloted by humans was launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida on December 21, 1968. The crew consisted of Frank Borman the mission commander, James Lovell the pilot of the command module, and William Anders the pilot of the lunar mode. The mission provided experience for their next Apollo mission, 11, which brought astronauts to the moon and back.

Space Shuttle Program

One of the reasons that NASA’s space shuttle program was immediately successful was the utilization of their older spacecrafts. In 1977 Voyager 1 and Voyager 2, two unmanned spacecrafts, were launched into outer space to gather images of planets, their moons, and beyond. As a precaution to anything the shuttle found, the Voyager 2 was equipped with a phonographic record that contained greetings in 55 different languages, sounds, and images that were meant to portray life on Earth.

The legacy of these NASA missions has shaped the way the entire world views space travel. The memory of these important expeditions have also luckily been captured on these pins that have survived decades, and will continue to educate the public.

For more space buttons, please check out our Button Museum online, or make an appointment to see it in person!