Pin Pop-Up fills niche at San Diego Comic-Con

Two-Day event at Gaslamp District bar features more than 20 artists

There’s always been an abundance of comics, collectible toys and T-shirts on sale at the biggest pop culture event of the year: San Diego Comic-Con International.

While enamel pin artists and vendors do make an appearance on the floor inside the San Diego Convention Center, they’re a bit further and farther between.

It’s a void that Arakel Kaloyan has aimed to fill with this year’s Pin Pop-Up at Coin-Op Gaslamp, which is walking distance from the convention center.

“A lot of people, especially when they were walking in, were cheering a bit and seemed really happy.”

“We had a little section for the (San Diego) Pin and Patch Con merchandise today so that they could buy pin and patch con T-shirts, totes or pennants. I was manning that today and we had a good handful of people thank us for putting on the event.”

Located at 789 6th Avenue, the Pop-Up will be open again tomorrow from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. tomorrow. The event is open to the public (a Comic-Con badge is not required to attend!)

The line-up of artists who will be featured at the event tomorrow includes  BB-Cre8, Bummer Days, Geeky and Kinky, Maiden Voyage, Mame Pins,  Monster Posse, Native Gold, Nerd Pins, Nostalgia Vault, Oozy Ranger, The Pinchey, Pin Plugged and Punch It Chewie Press.

The first 200 guests through the door will receive commemorative collectible pins. Today’s pin resembled an Atari Joystick and the pin to be distributed tomorrow looks like an arcade cabinet—both are designed by members of the San Diego Pin and Patch Con team and include the details from the event.

Kaloyan, a 22-year-old San Diego native, is one of the minds behind San Diego Pin and Patch Con, San Diego’s first full-scale convention of its kind.

The convention’s full-scale inaugural event took place earlier this summer, in mid-June after success with smaller pop-up events. The very first show hosted by Pin and Patch Con show, which took place last October, shocked Kaloyan when approximately 800 people showed up.

“Most of them walked out with bags full of pins. It looked like they were carrying Halloween bags—like thy were out Trick or Treating. We were asking people ‘Why are you leaving so soon? And they were like ‘we ran out of money!’”

“The whole point of the show was to generate interest and that definitely gave us the sign that this community deserves a convention, especially at this point. That’s how we decided to turn it into the Pin and Patch Con.”

After success with a Pin Pop-Up event at Coin-Op Gaslamp earlier this year, the newly opened barcade in the downtown area requested that the team return to the venue during Comic-Con and conduct a similar event.

Today, Kaloyan said 50-60 people were lined up outside before the event opened at 10:30 this morning, and it attracted a steady flow of attendees throughout the day.

“Everyone did really well—the house did really well. It was a little slower that we would have wanted it today, but it’s also a Thursday and a lot of people are working, and this is even the slowest day at Comic-Con. We’re expecting it to pick up tomorrow.”

Kaloyan first became interested in collecting pins by way of Disney fandom. After introducing his girlfriend Isabella to pin trading during a trip to Disney World in Florida, the two discovered Fantasy Pins, known to the Disney Pin Community as fan-made pins.

Soon the two were making their own Fantasy Pins and started their business Punch It Chewie Press, which is dedicated to Star Wars designs.

“It was definitely a bit rough at first because we didn’t know how to make them or where to go to make pins. Our first few pins were extremely overpriced to make, but we didn’t know any better. We just wanted to make pins,” he said.

“We said to ourselves, what do we want to see in a pin that we’d collect or wear?”

To become an exhibitor or attend upcoming San Diego Pin and Patch Con events, visit for more

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