Buttons bring people together. We’ve been saying that for years, but sometimes it’s still surprising how people from all walks of life find commonality in making and sharing great buttons. During the past eleven years Busy Beaver’s Button-O-Matic series has featured dozens of artists and hundreds of amazing button designs. The first series back in 2002 included 96 different buttons designs created by friends, co-workers, and local artists. Fast forward to 2013 and while this year’s series only features 10 designs, we were honored to have some pretty big names contribute their talents.

Inspired by a vintage button from Busy Beaver’s Button Museum collection, this year’s series, This Button is Just an Attempt to Communicate, celebrated button designs that use text, not images, to make a point. Text-only designs have a long history in the button canon, from Depression era designs promoting optimism to cheeky social lubricators meant to get people talking.

Arguably the most famous contributor to the 2013 series was legendary designer, Milton Glaser. Yes, the creator of the unmistakable I ♥ NY logoBob Dylan poster and Brooklyn Brewery logo graciously contributed this elegant moon button design.

Milton Glaser Busy Beaver Button-O-Matic Buttons

Button designed by Milton Glaser for the 2013 Busy Beaver Button-O-Matic series.

But Glaser was just one of a collection of ten fine artists, designers and writers tasked with creating a compelling text only button for this year’s series. The resulting designs expressed opinions, conveyed a message, and started conversations. Designs from Margot HarringtonJason JamesMarieke McClendon, and Ann Friedman & Dylan C. Lathrop spoke directly to the viewer with advice like “You do you” and “Go nuts”. Other buttons, like those from Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum and Cyrus Highsmith, were a statement about the weared. Plural and Starlee Kine used ambiguous designs to encourage conversations while Fred Sasaki’s button design was a loving tribute to his father.

From top left: Button design by Milton Glaser, Jason James, and Cyrus Highsmith. From middle left: Button design by Plural, Margot Harrington, Ann Friedman & Dylan C. Lathrop, and Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum. From bottom left: Button design by Marieke McClendon, Fred Sasaki, and Starlee Kine

The 2013 Button-O-Matic series is now available for sale in fifteen locations across Chicago with plans to distribute nationally. Check out the map below to find a Button-O-Matic near you.


View Busy Beaver Button-O-Matic locations in a larger map

To read more about Busy Beaver’s Button-O-Matic artist series check out A Brief History of the Button-O-Matic.

Share Button