Today in our Meet the Beavers series, we’re introducing you to our Shipping Coordinator, Ben Bertin. Ben is responsible for packing orders for shipping and pick up and he also recently took over assembling printed orders to get them ready for production. As both one of the first, and the very last set of eyes on an order before it reaches you, Ben’s role is vital for quality control and making sure that you get exactly what you ordered. And, like nearly all the Beavers, he’s busy outside of work as well, as a cartoonist and illustrator, collector, and one of the organizer for this year’s Chicago Alternative Comics Expo (CAKE).
Ben is taking over the Busy Beaver Instagram today, to share a day in the life of a Shipping Coordinator at the Beaver Dam. Read on for more about Ben’s love of Pee Wee’s Playhouse buttons, his introduction to Busy Beaver through poop-scented 1 inchers, and the events he’s most excited about at this weekend’s comics expo–
Tell us about your role here at Busy Beaver— what part do you play in making orders happen?
My role is dual: I’m involved with orders both right before the first stages and right after the last stages of button production. I assemble orders by collating and assembling designs after they’re printed and placing them in color-coded folders so that they’re scheduled to be made on time. Once the buttons are made I ship them out, doing one last quality control check, packing them up, and making sure they get out to our customers on time and in good condition. When I’m not doing these two main things, I’m pitching in wherever else I’m needed!
How did you get started at Busy Beaver?
After picking up a few shifts putting scratch and sniff stickers and pinning a large order of buttons, I was told by my friend and Busy Beaver Production Shift Lead, Carrie Vinarsky, that there was going to be an opening in the shipping coordinator role. I already had some experience with shipping work, and so after a really great interview, the rest is history! (Seriously, it was an awesome interview — how many other potential future bosses would be interested in my love of collecting and share my views on kaizen?)
Besides your role here at Busy Beaver, what do you do outside of work?
I’m one of the co-organizers of CAKE, the Chicago Alternative Comics Expo! CAKE is a marketplace and celebration of alternative comics in the City of Chicago and beyond. The expo has books and zines for sale, panel discussions, workshops (which are new this year), and so much more. It’s this weekend (June 6th and 7th at the Center on Halsted) but we work on getting it together all year. I started going to CAKE as an exhibitor (I’m a cartoonist and illustrator myself) and have been part of the CAKE crew since last year.
I also work on writing, producing and performing strange and sometimes psychadelic shadow puppet shows with a collaborative I’ve been with for about 3 years, called Pup House (our web address is pup.house). When I’m not working at Busy Beaver, on CAKE stuff or on a Pup House performance, I’m probably drawing with a podcast or watching a movie with a friend.
What are you excited about for this year’s CAKE events?
There’s so much to be excited about! One of the new workshop that I’m especially excited to see, though, is a live inking demonstration by one of comics’ greats (and one of our special guests) Jaime Hernandez, of Love and Rockets fame. We’re trying an experiment where he inks a pencil drawing done by another one of our special guests, Lale Westvind. Lale has been friend of mine since college, and seeing her and other out-of-towner friends in one place is another part of CAKE I look forward to every year!
You’ve got a pretty extensive button collection. Did you collect buttons before you started at Busy Beaver? Since you see so many of them every day, what kind of buttons catch your eye?
I did collect buttons before Busy Beaver (although my habit has definitely increased in the past 6 months since working here)! I collect a lot of other things, too, like art, books, comics and trading cards. I think I’ve always been a collector type person, but it became a real factor in my life a few years back when I worked at the now closed novelty store Uncle Fun. The store is closed, but the Uncle Fun website is still up and worth checking out. It’ll give you a good idea of how unique of a place it was. Some of the first buttons in my collection came from Uncle Fun!
I’m attracted to buttons that fall into some kind of category of things that already interest me, like some childhood mainstays like cartoons, monsters, or gross-out humor (think Garbage Pail Kids). I love art and design in general, so I’m always on the look out for eye-catching designs and illustrations.
What’s your favorite button from your collection?
Don’t make me choose! I would have to say it’s a three-way tie between a button made from a Pee-Wee’s Playhouse lenticular (look it up!), a button I made out of my voter registration receipt from Chicago’s recent mayoral election, and my Infinite Corpse button.
What do you like about working at Busy Beaver?
Everyone I work with! Everyone here really cares about making beautiful buttons, and they do their work with such genuine care for each other as well! There’s a great sense of camaraderie infused with a great sense of humor here at Busy Beaver.
Thanks to Ben for sharing this peek into his day at work, and after! Be sure to check out his day on Instagram as well.