Technology

The colorful and expensive world of personalized keyboard lovers


Custom keycaps provide another opportunity for creativity and expression on your keyboard, while also hitting your wallet. small things make is an artisan keycap maker based in San Jose, specializing in cute keycap designs. Their designs retail prices from $50 to $100 per key cap, but they also offer one-of-a-kind custom commissions at a base price of $300. While this may sound pricey, Tiny says custom artwork should be pricey. “If you can get this anywhere else, then you can go and buy it cheaper than anywhere else.”

After getting into consoles about five years ago, Tiny quickly started collecting keyboards (she has about 60 or 70 that she keeps on her industrial baking rack) and keycaps for herself. But keycap craftsmen were in short supply, she says, “and there weren’t many people making nice keycaps. So I just made my own. And that’s kind of how I started.”

Tiny makes keycaps out of resin or clay. Common commission requests are for keycaps of pets, favorite characters in TV or video games. Now, she’s probably best known on TikTok, where she gained notoriety for her Smorgasboard, a keyboard full of food-themed keycaps. Her hats are colorful and whimsical, and she loves to push her creativity within the limits of the keycap.

“I feel the most important thing is that people don’t know the possibilities of what you can do with a keyboard,” says Tiny. So when someone sees one of their TikTok videos or pictures of their keycaps online, they are surprised they can use something funky to write with.

Tiny adds that when you open your eyes, it’s easy to go down a rabbit hole. Especially since creators and companies are coming up with new builds and designs all the time.

“FOMO is very important in the hobby,” Kim says, as well as the hype culture that drives up the prices of some paintings or parts. Some companies like KeycultFor example, they have built a reputation as premium, upscale brands and launch products in ‘drops’.

An increasingly popular way to buy keyboards is through “group purchases” – a seller advertises an idea for an exclusive keyboard design, people pay for the product up front, and then the seller uses that money to manufacture the product and then distributes it over months or even years later. Sites like key company And the Drops They are popular places to discover new gear sold on limited rides.

But mass purchases have a downside, and they create feelings of exclusivity, says Fan, which people use to resell those builds at inflated values. And if you’re not particularly knowledgeable, it can be easy to waste money on unnecessary things. This is why finding a community with other, more experienced hobbyists is so valuable.

When you first enter the space, it’s easy to feel like you’re drowning in information, says Wong, especially since there are so many specific terms and so many choices these days. So find some kind of online community: Hop in the Twitch stream and join Discord.

“What I tell people is, after they have something they really like, it’s best to stop caring about whatever’s going on. Because that creates feelings of dissatisfaction with what you have,” says Van.

Wong seconds, semi-jokingly: “A lot of people talk about ‘end game’, which is The The board, which will leave you satisfied for a lifetime, take it to your grave, that kind of thing.” But when new gear is being rolled out all the time, it can be hard to decide what the end game is for you. So, he says, “Find out what you need to make a keyboard That’s really good, then just delete your accounts.” Because at the end of the day, there’s no practical reason to have more than a mechanical keyboard, he says—”but we’re stupid and we do.”



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