I’m not sure when I got my first pin, but the earliest documented proof I could find of me wearing a pin is from May 14, 2000. In the picture, my parents are conducting a mini-photoshoot at home with my older sister and two-year-old self, and you can see a tiny pair of red sunglasses pinned to the top of my pink cardigan:
To this day, I still have and frequently wear that red sunglasses pin, but it’s fair to say that my pin collection has since expanded. While most people probably have a couple of pins lying around—be they from Greek life, student clubs or travels—my pin count is currently 62, and I don’t plan on stopping anytime soon. Although I’ve seen a few other pinheads around campus, the majority of Cornellians have yet to appreciate pins for what they are. So, in honor of my hobby, I am dedicating this article to (the merits of) pin collecting!
Why I Collect Pins (and You Should Too!):
1. Pins are visual microcosms of your personality.
Most people collect pins of things that resonate with them or in which they are interested. For instance, I especially love to collect pins of celebrities and movie characters because I am obsessed with film, and anyone who can see and recognize my pins will immediately grasp this fact. Given the recent surge in the popularity and production of pins, there are so many more retailers and websites that now sell them (i.e. Pintrill, Verameat, Valley Cruise Press, Urban Outfitters and Etsy), so it’s becoming much easier to find a pin that reflects who you are. Thus, pins are a miniature form of self-expression because you’re not going to buy a pin unless there’s something about it that appeals to you!
Furthermore, some pins may have a personal meaning or story attached to them. One of my favorite pins is a vintage champagne-colored Saab sedan that my grandfather gave me in July. Although my grandfather never collected pins, he bought this specific one during the 1980s because he had the exact same car at the time! In fact, when he still drove, my grandfather only ever bought cars that were champagne in color. Every time I look at this pin, I am also reminded of the champagne-colored Toyota Sienna minivan he drove my siblings and me to school in for fourteen years! Finally, a common habit among tourists is to buy pins from places they have visited in order to memorialize their travels and experiences.
2. Pins are the perfect conversation-starters.
Because pins are so effective at communicating to strangers what your hobbies or beliefs are, they encourage people who share such interests to strike up a conversation with you. This has happened to me a couple of times, and these interactions usually start with a compliment (and who doesn’t love a compliment?), followed by said stranger’s opinion on, say, the best Wes Anderson film (The Darjeeling Limited) or the best pizza topping (pineapple, duh). I’ve found that wearing this sort of social icebreaker on yourself not only lends a fun element of uncertainty to your daily experience but also compels you to reconsider how connected we all are.
3. Pins are tiny, wearable pieces of ART.
Most of the pins I buy are created by independent artists who make their own original designs, so it’s definitely not a stretch to say that pins are works of art! Even as I’m looking at and photographing my pin collection now, I can automatically distinguish between pins made by one artist or another because each designer has his or her own signature style of drawing, embossing or coating. Plus, it’s always nice to know that you’re supporting small businesses that are an important part of the artistic community. Moreover, compared to other types of art, pins are cheaper (anywhere from $3 to $12 a pop), much more portable and can be displayed all the time!
4. Pins go with EVERY outfit.
Pins are icons — and small ones at that — so they won’t ever dominate your outfit unless you wear twenty of them simultaneously. This means that you can wear pins with or on anything! As you’ve probably noticed, pins are usually worn on denim jackets, but don’t limit yourself to denim — or jackets. You can place pins on canvas, nylon, leather, velvet and suede clothing, and I’ve seen pins on backpacks, sneakers and pencil cases too. To make an otherwise boring outfit or article of clothing unique, simply add pins! If you feel like going a step further, you can even arrange your pins based on a theme. For inspiration, refer to the photos in this article, especially the one below, in which I’ve organized a few pins according to a bright red color scheme.
While I’m not expecting to convert Cornellians en masse to pin-collecting, I hope I’ve conveyed why collecting pins is so enjoyable for and meaningful to me. Pin-collecting is more than just buying cute trinkets; it’s a way to document your experiences. As I continue to find and buy additions for my collection, I will be gradually compiling a selection of icons that reflect who I am throughout my life.