We all love free stuff—designers and photographers attending shows and conferences have always found branded pens, t-shirts and stickers thrust upon them. You name it, it’s been branded and given away by a company at some point.
But we like to think that there’s merch, and then there’s merch. We have been making Affinity apparel for staff since we started—we’ve all rocked an Affinity t-shirt at some point here at Affinity HQ. And on our 3rd birthday in October 2017, we gave our users a chance to win an Affinity cap. The response was phenomenal which made us think perhaps you’d want to wear some Affinity merch too!
Enter the Spotlight contributor gift box. Created for those who are featured or contribute to Affinity Spotlight—this is currently the only way you can get your hands on this Affinity merch.
So what’s in the box? While we’re not going to let you in on all our secrets (you’d have to contribute to find out!), we can you give you a behind-the-scenes peek at one of the things that can be found inside…
Exclusive Affinity pin badges
We love enamel pins, and their DIY punk ethos. There are some beautiful pins made by designers every day across the globe—check out #pingame on Instagram for some enamel pin eye-candy. Every outfit can benefit from some ‘flair’ (‘Office Space’ anyone?)—so part of the ‘swag’ included in the contributor gift box are our specially made Affinity enamel pin badges. Read on to find out how we went about getting them made…
Hard or soft?
Enamel badges are made by stamping a metal plate with a design and filling the gaps with coloured enamel. You can achieve various effects by changing the material of the metal plate, to determine whether the badge is ‘hard’ or ‘soft’.
With a soft badge, the enamel sits below the ridges of the plated metal badge leaving it with a textured feel. First the badge is stamped and cut, then plated with a choice of metals (nickel/gold/bronze). Next the enamel is added in the depressed areas by hand and baked.
Choose soft enamel badges if you want a textured, three-dimensional badge and if your design is very detailed or intricate.
Hard enamel pins are also stamped, using a die-struck process—each colour must be separated by a metal line to stop the enamel colours mixing. Each recess is filled and baked and repeated until the enamel fills to the top of the metal separation lines.
Next step is to electroplate the badges to add a finish to the separation lines. Again, a variety of metals are available depending what effect you wish to achieve.
The badges are ground and polished, which results in a totally flat and smooth finish—this means that hard enamel badges cannot hold as much detail as soft badges because of the lines spreading during polishing.
Choose hard enamel badges for a flat and polished design, which is more hard wearing—the feel of quality. We decided to go with the hard enamel badges for our Affinity pins.
We chose Awesome Merchandise to manufacture our pins—they are a UK based custom merchandise producer based in Leeds (just up the road from us!).
They create everything from fridge magnets to drumskins—and of course enamel pin badges. Everything is produced in-house which allows them to offer a wide range of customisation and great customer service.
Using enamel comes with some limitations. Each colour must be separated by a metal line to prevent mixing, and of course there can be no gradients, just solid colour.
Lines must be a minimum of 0.2mm and coloured areas a minimum of 0.3mm for technical reasons—which can be challenging to work into a design. Our art director, Neil Ladkin, was on hand to modify the Affinity Designer and Photo logos for this purpose.
If you’d like to get your hands on our exclusive contributor gift box, there is currently only one way: get in touch and contribute!
We are always looking for interesting creative projects, and people, to feature on Affinity Spotlight. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you think you, or a project you’re working on, would make a good feature.