The Colorful, Expensive World of Personalized Keyboard Fans


Custom keys provide another opportunity for creativity and expression on a keyboard, while also hitting your wallet. Tiny Makes Things is a craft keycap maker based in San Jose, specializing in cute keycap designs. His own retail designs range from $ 50 to $ 100 per keycap, but he also makes unique custom commissions for a base fee of $ 300. While that may seem expensive, Tiny says custom art must be expensive. “If you can get this elsewhere, then you can go all out and buy more price elsewhere.”

After entering keyboards about five years ago, Tiny soon began collecting tables (she’s about 60 or 70 that she holds on an industrial bread rack) and tasting them for herself. But the craftsmen of the keycaps were few, she says, “and there weren’t that many people who made cute keycaps. So I just made it my own. And that’s how it started. ”

Tiny face resin or clay keycaps. Popular commission requests are for keystrokes of people’s pets, or their favorite TV characters or video games. Now, she’s probably best known on TikTok, where she gained notoriety for her “Smorgasboard,” a keyboard full of food-grade keys. Their caps are colorful and whimsical, and they like to push how creative they can be within the confines of a keycap.

“I think the biggest thing is that people don’t know the possibilities of what can be done with a keyboard,” Tiny says. So when a person sees one of their TikTok videos or photos of their keycaps online, they are overwhelmed by the possibility of using something so conventional to write.

When your eyes are open, adds Tiny, it’s easy to fall into a rabbit hole. Especially as designers and companies come up with new constructions and designs all the time.

“FOMO is very big in the past,” says Kim — that more culture hype drives up prices for certain panels or parts. Some companies, like Keycult, for example, they have built reputations as premium and high-end brands, and released products in “drops”.


An increasingly common way to buy keyboards is through “group purchases” – a seller announces an idea for an exclusive keyboard design, people pay for the product in advance, and then the seller uses these funds to manufacture and then distribute the product months or even years later. Sites like The Key Company and Drop they are popular places to discover new tools sold in limited editions.

But group acquisitions have a disadvantage, and they create feelings of exclusivity, says Van, which people use to resell those buildings to inflated values. And if you’re not particularly experienced, it can be easy to lose money on non-essentials. That’s why finding a community with other more experienced hobbyists is so valuable.

When you first enter the space, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the information, Wong says, especially since there is so much specific terminology and so many options today. So find a kind of online community: jump on a Twitch stream and join a Discord.

“What I tell people is, after you have something that they really like, it’s best to stop paying attention to everything that happens. Because it creates feelings of dissatisfaction with what you have,” Van says.

Wong seconded that, semi-jokingly: “A lot of people talk about‘ endgame ’, which is u board, the one that will make you happy for life, bring it to your grave, this kind of thing. “But when the new equipment comes out all the time, it’s hard to decide which end is for you. So, he says, ‘find out what you need to make that keyboard really good, and then just delete your accounts.’ at the end of the day, there’s really no practical reason to have more than one mechanical keyboard, he says – “but we’re dumb and we do it”.

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