The Indelible Search for Buzzworthy Buttons


“Get your buttons,” said Qiana Holmes, who hasn’t stopped to think about the collectibility of her wares. Too busy keeping up with demand.

Mike Ziri’s first political buttons in Denver?

“I’ll get an Illinois and an Indiana,” Ziri said.

Ziri stood outside the Colorado Convention Center in Denver. Qiana Holmes pulled his buttons from a board, which then blew over in a strong gust. He’s not a collector, yet. Today he’s just looking for cool buttons.

That’s the first rule offered by the American Political Items Collectors, which holds conventions of its own: collect what you like.

Ziri’s a delegate from Illinois to the Democratic National Convention, and he’s meeting up with a friend from Indiana. He craned his neck, looking around. That seemed to be what everyone was doing.

“Business is good, except for the wind,” Holmes said. Her Arizona-based business makes buttons and T-shirts and follows Barack Obama’s campaign. Delegates and tourists love buttons that reference their home state, she said. That lets her know the geographic origin of the crowds that move past her.

“Texas went fast, so they’re here,” Holmes said.

Another popular button features Rosy the Riveter, rolling up her sleeves.

“I have that. It went fast,” Holmes said.

Buttons are getting a lot of attention this year. There’s even a pilgrimage to Denver by a crew who are chronicling themselves on youtube.

Near the convention Kerry Tucker plied his original designs. He’s new to buttons, an opportunist. His are less conventional. He’s trying to stand out from the crowd of lapel messagery. One says, “I heart black people.”

Two years ago, guitar-toting peace activist Hans Vermeersch thought of a great button for an Oregon race he briefly worked for: “Folk the Vote.”

“They were, ‘It sounds too much like….’ Yeah! That’s the whole point! It’s buzzworthy,” Vermeersch said.


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Filed under 2008, Old News Stories and Columns

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