XX7 is a Canadian artisan that has been on the front line of people changing the way that artisan keycaps are thought of and distributed within the mechanical keyboard community. Most artisans are sculpted/cast in resin which is very labor intensive process, and also explains why demand can never seem to be met, thus raffles are really one of the only “fair” ways to sell caps. XX7 has taken a completely different approach to making keycaps, and uses a 3D printer to create his keycaps instead. Not only does this keep costs lower, but it also means that the caps are readily available anytime someone wants to order one. I personally love that some artisans like XX7 are bringing this new approach to artisan keycaps and helping make them constantly available. I think this really helps include newcomers to the hobby, which only helps the hobby grow even more. XX7 has also announced new keycaps this week, along with releasing his STL files so others can print their own variants of his caps!
Andy: When did your artistic side begin to come out growing up, and how so?
XX7: My artistic side still hasn’t come out much, but I guess it shows the most in my selection of colour schemes and love of simplistic things.
Andy: What was the first artisan keycap you saw, and what made you want to start creating your own?
XX7: The first artisan keycap I saw was a click clack skull, about 8 months ago. I decided to start creating my own when I saw /u/admiralvorian’s MEGATRQN design, and came into contact with some people with a high quality 3D printer. Ever since then I’ve been slowly building a catalogue of models and designs.
Andy: Did you have any help starting out, or did you have to figure out the art of cap making by yourself?
XX7: I sort of just struggled my way through making my first full-colour model, but /u/Ekoobs was a massive help in getting my Topre stem working perfectly.
Andy: Outside of keyboards, what are some of your other hobbies?
XX7: Outside of keyboards I love to listen to music (Usually hard dance), and used to play hockey but that was stopped by repeating injuries.
Andy: What is your daily driver keyboard? Any special keycap sets or artisans on it?
XX7: At home I use an unmodded Novatouch with GMK Charred orange, and for work and school I use a b.min with 62g gateron blues and a 100g spacebar. The b.mini has Blue Vortex Doubleshots, but will have thick black pbt caps eventually.
Andy: Can you explain a bit of the process that goes into creating your caps?
XX7: My process usually goes Idea -> Mockup/Sketch -> Rough 3D model -> Prototype -> Revision -> Final Model
Andy: What, if anything, influences your keycap designs?
XX7: The communities ideas and wants usually influence what I design, but recently I’ve been taking advice from friends and trying whatever comes to mind.
Andy: Are there any other artisans you really look up to or appreciate at the moment?
XX7: The artisans I have the most respect for are kudosandgodspeed for paving the way into modifier kits, and katzenkinder because he’s just a very genuine person, plus who doesn’t love the AXOL?
Andy: How long on average does it take to create an entirely new cap, from any initial thinking/planning until the first “finished” cap is made?
XX7: To make a new cap it can take anywhere from a couple days to weeks, depending on manufacturing delays and issues with the models.