The need to have a personalized keyboard that fits your style and aesthetic has been an ongoing trend among keyboard enthusiasts and gamers alike. This particular trend gave rise to the popularity of artisan keycaps. Today, artisan keycaps are available both with large vendors such as Drop and bespoke artisan keycap makers.
Artisan keycaps are custom keycaps that accent your keyboard through various designs and concepts that you vibe with. These keycaps vary in shapes, sizes, colors, depending on the artist’s design concept. In essence, it is a canvas for the artist to showcase their creativity in the world of mechanical keyboards.
This post will talk about everything you need to know before buying artisan keycaps, including how they are brought to life and how, when, and where you can get one. Stay tuned as we also discuss if it is worth buying artisan keycaps for your keyboard.
What Are Artisan Keycaps?
Artisan keycaps are artistically customized keycaps that add fun and personality to one’s keyboard. These keycaps usually come individually, given that making one requires serious time and effort by the crafter. As these keycaps are customized by the artists themselves, getting one may cost you a significant amount of money.
While this may be the case, some enthusiasts still go further in accessorizing their keyboards with artisan keycaps as it is also a way to express their personality. Some even go all the way into replacing their keyboard’s function row keycaps with artisan keycaps.
Artisan Keycaps are commonly made through 3d-printing or sculpting and painting by hand. As these are “artisan” goods, it implies that the artist is left with their creativity and hands to breathe life into the keycap. Like other forms of art, the creativity of crafters of artisan keycaps knows no bounds.
This factor is basically its selling point which gets the community to part with their money. Do note that artisan keycaps sell out quickly as it always has the community’s eyes. If you can get one, better grab the opportunity as usually these are made in small portions on limited releases.
What Materials Are Used For Artisan Keycaps?
Handcrafting artisan keycaps usually start from casting resin to a customized mold. A resin is a type of adaptable substance that is very sticky or somewhat glue-like in its base form. The keycap shape is also outlined as it dries or solidifies in a customized mold typically made with clay. Afterward, the artist paints the keycap according to their design concept.
Artists also tend to use various items to complete their designs, such as glitters, colored dyes, and expensive paints. As previously mentioned, the artist’s creativity in this process is endless. Some would even go the distance through using wood and metal as the base material for the keycap and expensive ones such as beads to accent their masterpiece.
Are Artisan Keycaps Durable?
Resin has been long proven to withstand the test of time. As this is the case, it is safe to say that artisan keycaps can stand long-term and heavy usage subject to inevitable wear and tear. This is also why artisan keycaps are usually put on modifiers, as these are not commonly used, unlike alphanumeric keycaps. However, take into account that highly detailed or decorated artisan keycaps degrade quickly due to their nature.
Point in case, artisan keycaps may be durable, but the design or decorations are subject to wear and tear. A practical recommendation for you to extend its life span is to never subject the keycap to any solvent that may negatively affect the plastic.
Why are Artisan Keycaps Expensive?
There are at least three reasons why artisan keycaps are so expensive, and one of them is that they are in short supply despite high demand. Almost, if not, all keyboard enthusiasts and gamers are interested and therefore look forward to buying their own set of artisan keycaps. Such high demand results in an inevitable increase in its price, given that there are only a few artists who manufacture artisan keycaps which creates its low or short supply.
Another reason for its high cost is the amount of time and work required by the artist to create them. Artisan keycaps usually are handcrafted and hand-painted by the artist. Given that these require a high degree of artistry, it would be an injustice not to compensate them appropriately.
Last but not least, consider that artisan keycaps are extremely rare. Those interested in getting one must prepare a significant amount of money to obtain a specific keycap or a set of them. This factor will certainly be aggravated if an artisan keycap is highly sought after by the general public, which would inevitably increase its price.
What Kinds of Designs of Artisan Keycaps are Available?
There is a wide variety of design concepts to choose from. Should you be shopping right now, you may come across artisan keycaps with designs based on food and animals. Some designs also pay homage to widely popular anime series, tv shows, or pop culture references.
Here are some artisan keycaps that are well-known for producing good quality products.
The dwarf factory is well known for perfecting the art of making artisan keycaps. One of their favorite products is their keycap line named petite meal Collection. As the name suggests, it is a series of food-themed artisan keycaps.
Hot Keys Project
Another artisan keycaps brand loved by the community is the Hot Keys Project. The brand is famous for incorporating cartoon characters and pop culture into its designs. It is highly recommended that you look into the brand if you are a fan of pop culture.
Hot Keys Project also offers membership to their community, on which you can avail discounts depending on your grade. Check out their website to learn more.
Second to the last to be featured in this article is the brand named Jellykey. Jellykey is well known for its original and creative designs, which are not only focused on pop culture like other brands. It also gets inspiration from abstract artwork and other obscure references.
Last but not least is a brand known as Hirosart. It caught the community’s eyes with its Pokemon-themed artisan keycaps and other clever designs. Take a look at their koi artisan keycaps and other unique designs which you cannot find from other brands.
Are Artisan Keycaps Made To Order?
It depends. Some brands have readily available keycaps, which you can buy on the go, but it is usually made upon order. Some sellers also facilitate group buys to collate everyone’s order and release them on a given date. Should you opt for a group buy, consider that it usually takes a long period before your order arrives. Some manufacturers also suspend their production and issue refunds if the minimum quantity of orders is not met.
The availability of design varies on-demand, as discussed earlier. Do note that buying artisan keycaps differs from buying custom keycap sets. Prices will depend highly on the artist or the craftsmanship you are paying for, unlike in buying custom keycap sets wherein it is majorly dependent on demand.
Can You Use a Regular Keycap Puller for Artisan Keycaps?
Keycap pullers are highly recommended in removing any keycap from your keyboard. When it comes to artisan keycaps, the same recommendation is also effective. Use, however, a wire keycap puller, not the plastic one, as it may damage the sides and inside edges of the keycap.
Where To Put Artisan Keycaps?
Artisan keycaps are normally used on modifiers such as escape keys, function keys, arrow keys, and other keys except for alphanumeric ones. There are almost no artisan keycaps for alphanumeric keys because the design may cause some unwanted error in typing when it is used.
Are Artisan Keycaps Worth Buying?
Now to the main question at hand. Artisan keycaps are luxury on top of a luxury purchase – being your mechanical keyboard. At this point, your happiness and satisfaction are ultimately questioned as to whether the product you bought is worth buying or not.
In other words, if you like the keycaps and it makes you happy while you stare at them on your keyboard, then it is worth buying. Otherwise, it is not. Aesthetics is the cherry on top of building your keyboard. It may cost you money, but the satisfaction you get in expressing your personality on your keyboard is, in a way, priceless.
Suppose you are the type of mechanical keyboard user that prioritizes utility over performance. In that case, it is recommended that you veer away from buying artisan keycaps as they may affect the use of your keyboard. Additionally, those on a budget need not rush into purchasing artisan keycaps as these are relatively expensive products.
Stephen is the head content creator of Keyboardsexpert. His mechanical keyboard journey began in 2014 when he got his Razer Blackwidow. Since then, he has been fascinated with all things mechanical keyboard-related. He later discovered the custom keyboard hobby and fell in love with the vast customization options. He is currently searching for his endgame and is very excited to share his journey and educate other keyboard enthusiasts.