The artist behind Kult Worship Kaps has always been somewhat of an enigma since he came onto the scene in 2013, with his horror themed Killed by Kaps (KBK) branded artisans. After a rebrand and two hiatuses, he finally returned to the hobby in 2019 to continue producing his Kult Worship Kaps (KWK) artisans, which are now more popular than ever. Hipster continues to defy conformity, eschew conventional sale methods, and remain true to his brand, even while the brand continues to carry a certain level of mystique. We interviewed Hipster to see if we can gain some insight into the mind behind the resin.
HP: In 2013 I separated myself from a toxic lifestyle of heavy drinking, graffiti, and partying. I picked up a stocking job working overnights and cut ties with the past. I decided to focus on my art and course correct my life. I wanted to become domesticated with my then gf (now wife) and enjoy some video game releases I had missed out in the past. I picked up a cheap laptop and really didnt enjoy the experience. I googled around for a keyboard and monitor to give myself a “desktop” feel. Me and PD both found geekhack.org around the same time and began shopping around and chatting with the community. We found the artisan forums in which BroCaps / Clack / Binge were prominent makers at the time. Armed with $20 to pick up a sick skull keycap, we both found out obtaining these pieces would be more difficult than simply adding them to your shopping cart.
PD: Having escaped a fanatical religious cult, I moved in with HP in 2013. At the time both HP and myself had the creative side to begin sculpting our first designs, which would turn into Killed By Kaps. My job during this time was to begin figuring out how to market and assist in branding. The name was derived from our old graffiti crew and a punk, band DS-13, who had a thrash album called “Killed By Kids”. We started making kaps with the goal in mind to trade for other makers' caps.
HP: Me and PD were living with my wife's parents in 2013. Our first sculpt “Death Lives” was made with Sculpey clay and was very primitive - cast without the use of pressure and easily accessible resins. No high quality colorants/pigments, just paints and acrylics were all we had on hand at the time. A lot of these early edition caps are completely faded/yellowing/falling apart due to the quality of materials by now. There was no social media presence for us at the time so every sale was marketed on Geekhack.org artisan forums, specifically the Geekhack media thread “Post Your Killed by Kaps / Kult Worship Kaps”.
PD: The first KBK sale was not a traditional sale (dem, HP didnt even include my name). We had mixed a few of our casted caps in with other established makers on a Geekhack Classifieds thread. It featured “Death Lives V1/V2” variants and “Mummy V1s”. We were just grateful if someone wanted a piece of our art. Writing graffiti and tagging is about getting your name out there in non traditional means, so slipping these caps into WTS threads mixed with other caps was a way to get people to acknowledge these caps existed no matter how crappy they were at the time.
The first designs that began gaining a bit of traction and fan base were “Mummy II” and “Conspires'' which were first sold in June of 2014 for $15 each. This was the first KBK sale in which we began using pressure to cast.
HP: Lets move forward in time to the end of KBK and the rebrand into KWK. KBK at this time was already hosting public sales and improving on quality. We had purchased a pressurized casting pot in which we remember being difficult to find at the time. It was leaky and the holes were epoxied shut.
This was the part I enjoyed the most about making kaps the progression and improvements (although, I'm sure PD would disagree). Pushing the limits of ourselves and others, and always trying to best our last sale. Geekhack at this time was a very fun time for makers, there were very few of us. There was an unspoken code between makers to not make similar designs and not step on each other's toes. It was a very small and inclusive circle to the juggernaut of what the hobby is today. We used each and every sale to try and improve colorways and add “gimmicks” to keycaps. 1/2/3 color variants were pretty common and then a maker would do something “new”, whether it was introducing cold casting or glitter effects to keycaps. We were always trying to push the limits of what could be done at the time: thermochromic caps / paranoid eyes / ombres. This is where the rebrand to KWK would happen.
PD: The rebrand from KBK to KWK was a big deal for us. It would set a new quality standard, as well as introduce a new makers mark that would define the brand. We began introducing other caps to the KWK brand during this time (Vandal, Walrus II, etc).
The part I liked the least about making kaps is the request for commissions. When HP and myself start making a batch we would waste a ton of materials getting the colorant right and sometimes they would end up a completely different colorway than what was intended.
It's the inspiration and wonder on being able to “put what's in our minds into a keycap” that drives us to create. We have taken on “2” commissions since we started making caps and both efforts took so long and we weren't exactly happy with the output. We just simply don't enjoy doing them.
HP: I have always loved drawing/creating characters and my biggest source of inspiration were my circle of writer friends from 2005 - 2010. We would just hang out in the living room of a party house with our black books and markers, drinking beers and watching VHS movies until we blacked out.
KWK style stems from old school horror/explicit images/D&D inspired/drugs/violence/cults. Most of our characters and designs come from myself, while PD takes care of the casting and marketing. We wanted our art to symbolize the filth and degeneracy of the world. I tend to draw a character and play around with where your eyes will focus on an image. I know if I draw a mummy with 14 titties, no matter what else is on that piece, I know where your eyes are going.
Lately, I have been really into line work and creating animations with KWK characters. PD and myself also maintain KultWorship.com, where we sometimes sell caps through, but mainly use it as a satire website to poke fun at the corporate virtue signaling and “we are family” culture big companies sell to their employees and world. We consider this website a collaborative and living portfolio we update periodically.
PD: Man… HP is a very perverted dude.
PD: My favorite sculpt is the Mummy III. I would consider it the flagship kap of KWK. It’s a TMX stem, and the levels of detail allow for some creative colorways. It was also derived from a chopped up Mummy II, so in a way the design is a testament to our earlier conversation of improving and perfecting a design. I enjoy hearing the community discuss which variant II versus III they like the best. I personally prefer the latter.
HP: Most interesting would be Warus II and Boxhead...
Walrus II - at the time I was interested in making a fully sculpted 3D keycap. I was obsessed with the movie “Tusk” while sculpting this, which is where this design originates from. This cap was a huge PITA to cast and color, but so much fun to create. This design was retired right before KWK went on a hiatus. and may be revisited in the future. Oh wait, PD sold the master. . . rip.
Boxhead - working a corporate job and slowly losing your originality and becoming another cog in the machine was the inspiration of this kap. Day after day of absorbing the companies “Flavor of the Week” and reciting the bullshit. This kap symbolized the corporate takeover that infiltrated our art. This kap is not a tribute, but rather a call out to the worldwide branding of everything companies try to stick their logo on.
The most prominent and most well known KWK keycap is the “Vandal”, which is a very fun keycap to cast. Ski mask, gimp mask - label it what you want. This kap, however, has lost its luster for PD and myself as its the most requested kap to be put in sales, and may be retired soon.
HP: Man, I like the old stuff, the release hype caps. The BBV2 early through late sales are all good. Back when both BroCaps and Clack were active on GH were some of my favorite collecting times. I’ve since moved on from collecting keycaps and focused on hand drawn art from the makers themselves, unless I can get some BBV2’s or Clacks skulls that are authentic. For me those caps were and still are the grails. I’m grateful for having been around during that time period when those sales were active and chatting with those dudes.
PD: As far as newer makers, I don't really collect much. Some of my favorite “new” makers are Otesanek and TheKingofMean's kap_haus and Sludgekidd. Please don't kill me if they aren't considered new, as I have recently just discovered them. (Editor's note: Kap Haus is certainly newer, and Sludge is more recent relative to PD's time.) Seeing the hobby continue to grow with new makers is very inspiring. Be careful with your wallet out there, kids.
HP: One thing we really haven't publicly addressed are the amount of counterfeit caps floating around in the hobby. We came back from hiatus at the perfect time to add additional security measures to ensure collectors knew they were getting authentic products. This delayed the initial “comeback” sale, but was a well-needed addition to our product line. The silver lining to the counterfeit problem was us being able to work on authenticity cards and cap infills that would have never happened had our IP not been compromised.
PD: I really enjoy the high resolution photos and macro shots that the community comes up with. Some photos of our kaps we have seen are just stunning. It really pushes us to never release a shoddy or lazy product, as it will probably end up big macro’d on discord/IG and highlight any imperfection. So thank you, and keep taking photos of kaps. However, those IG deskmat photos... nothing worse than getting big cucked on thinking you're about to see a dank photo of your cap, and it's just a deskmat.
HP: Makers - Take it slow and hard. It’s probably very difficult to start building a brand in keyboards right now, as artisans is such an overly saturated marketplace with tons of similar designs. Make yourself stand out and don't be afraid to push against the status quo. I see a ton of makers with very professional and polished design work and branding on Instagram, but lackluster product... priorities, man. Let your art and product speak for itself and ruffle a few feathers. Don't bend the knee to every customer to make what “they” want, make YOUR art. Do it only if you love it, don't do it for the money.
PD: Collectors - Network, Network, Network, make friends and relationships. (Editor's note: Amen.) Be active in the discords and be constructive. PD and I are fortunate enough to have made a few friends in the hobby we still communicate with and check up on. Please don't PM others without an offer in mind. If all that fails… make your own keycaps and trade/sell em.