Artisan keycap collecting can be enjoyed by both casual and serious hobbyists alike. If you are a casual collector, entering a few raffles from your favorite makers, and occasionally trading or dabbling in the aftermarket, you don't have to invest significant time or resources into the hobby. If, however, you decide to become a serious collector, attempting to complete sets, find off-sale menu colorways, or hunt down rare vintage sculpts, it is worth understanding the three main resources that govern your ability to collect, and the relationship between them: (1) reputation and network, (2) time and effort, and (3) money and trade caps.
This is probably the most powerful resource to have when it comes to locating rare artisans and helping you obtain them, while also making the hobby more enjoyable for you and others. Building up a network of friends, of both collectors and makers, and helping them achieve their own goals, can be an extremely rewarding aspect of the hobby. Many rare caps are with people who aren’t looking to sell or trade unless it is to people they know or to help friends.
The stronger your network, the less time and money will be required, since your network helps you locate caps, find good deals, or offer caps to you that typically are not on the market. If money gives you ability, then network gives you access.
You can also build up a negative balance in this area by violating community norms (see table below for reputation boosters and detractors). If you have a poor reputation, your ability to find the things you want in the aftermarket will be curtailed. Also, if makers observe or hear of your negative reputation, your ability to win raffles may also be impacted.
|Reputation Boosters||Reputation Detractors|
An important aspect of artisan collecting is having and investing the time and effort across four areas:1. Channel monitoring: Expand your chances of being in the right place at the right time: being able to watch for deals, enter flash sales, catch reddit or discord market posts, monitor discord or slack server chats, etc. (Your network can also help with this, which is why a stronger network leads to less required time) 2. Building your market knowledge: understanding trade values, where/how to transact, how to structure trades, etc. 3. Patience: being able to hold out for good deals, or waiting until someone is ready to trade 4. Expanding your network: building a network of friends takes time. There is no shortcut to this. Building trust and helping people out takes time and effort. This resource is often determined by your current stage in life: whether you have a busy class schedule, have a demanding career, work multiple jobs, have a family to attend to, or other personal or professional priorities.
Clearly, having financial resources is required to enter raffles and build up your collection, including trade inventory. Increasingly, both retail and aftermarket values can be high for rare or more popular caps, so the more funds you have, the more artisans you can buy.Your limitations here will be dictated by your own personal financial situation. However, even if you are wealthy, there are many rare caps with well-to-do collectors who aren’t looking to sell. Being overly aggressive with purchase attempts or flaunting your wealth with public offers can lead to a negative reputation (no one likes it when market prices get inflated), which will impact your ability to obtain what you are looking for. If you don’t have much wealth, be careful with your funds, be patient, and build a network of friends to help you find good deals. If you are lucky enough to have wealth, it is a powerful multiplier when combined with reputation and time. Be humble, use it to help others, and you will ultimately find what you seek.