Katie, the Trinket Sorceress, is a creator of magical headphone accessories – horns, ears, antennas, flowers, and much, much more – that allow gamers, streamers, and music lovers to add a touch of personal flair to their gear. In our conversation with her, Katie talks about how and why she designs her 3D-printed pieces, her love of headphones (she’s a big ATH-M20x fan!), and the new styles fans can look forward to.
What inspired you to begin making these unique pieces for headphones? Did you decide to sell them only after making a couple for yourself or was creating a business the idea from the start?
Originally, I had printed pieces for costumes. It was a personal project for a Renaissance faire costume I had been working on at the time. A handful of people were interested in the way I painted and used glitter over the horns – that was my shop's original intent. Back then I also worked from home. When I wasn't working, I was gaming. This led me to really pick up 3D software to figure out how I could make my headphones more customizable. The big break for me was on TikTok. There was a ton of interest for the simple designs I had made, so I decided to keep going and eventually was able to make it on my own.
Do your pieces work with all over-ear headphones? Do you design any pieces to complement specific headphones?
When I go into a design I try my very best to make it as versatile as possible. The only style of headphone I haven't completely conquered is the very, very thin double-metal-band headphones. The bands bend a bit too much and don't have much stabilization, so I started making 'charms' that sit on the side of headphones to accommodate!
You pointed out to us earlier that, in addition to self-expression, your pieces can help with inclusivity. Can you talk some more about this aspect of your work?
I've always been someone who loves all genres, aesthetics, and seeing people be celebrated for who they authentically are. When I design a piece I go into it with the mindset that someone will feel seen, because it is easy to feel like you aren't celebrated in the gaming, or even music, industries. One of the reasons I lean toward a “made to order” process is so people can pick the colors that match with either themselves, personally, or the setup they are curating.
You have also said that you feel most at home with a pair of headphones on. What do you mostly use headphones for – listening to music, gaming, streaming? What do you look for in a pair of headphones? Do you have a favorite model or type?
Headphones have always been a staple in my life! I'm someone who is constantly listening to music when I design, game, work on machines, do chores, etc. The big thing I look for in headphones is a comfortable fit. In-ear headphones usually don't work for me due to being prone to headaches. So a good pair of over-the-ear headphones is lifesaving.
My favorite headphone brand is actually Audio-Technica. My brother-in-law suggested them a couple years ago, and I haven't looked back since. The ATH-M20xs are my old faithfuls!
ATH-M20x Professional Monitor Headphones
How do you come up with ideas for new pieces? Do you regularly add new items to your catalog or are you mostly fulfilling orders from existing designs at this point?
A lot of the time I am inspired by media that I consume personally. Video game worlds, movies, all forms of art and other artists. World of Warcraft is one of my biggest inspirations as it's a universe I've spent a lot of time in. The "demon horn" sets were inspired by Demon Hunters from the game.
I try my best to add new designs monthly! When the shop first kicked off in November of 2021, I had around eight designs. Now I offer over 100 and I'm still adding to the list.
Do you (or will you) make pieces based on the special request of a customer?
While I do have a list of requests, I don't think I'll do outright commissions anytime soon. I consider myself to still be learning. I'd like to somewhat perfect a style before taking on commissions. Sometimes people are very specific about what they want and it's a little intimidating [laughs].
You seek to create with a low environmental impact (by printing with the bioplastic polylactide (PLA), printing to order, etc.). Can you tell us why you think sustainability efforts are such an important part of the creative process? Have you found that your customers value this aspect of your art as well?
When I got into printing I was made very aware of how much waste can build up (scraps, test prints, failed designs, etc.). As someone who is creating this waste, I've also felt it was my responsibility to manage it. It is a mindset I'm very happy I started thinking about from the start. It's often not talked about that PLA is not fully biodegradable, but there are lovely companies and individuals who do have recycling facilities. I try my best to recycle as much as possible.
My customers have absolutely expressed gratitude about my transparency and honesty on the topic, while other artists have also reached out about finding a recycling facility.
Are there any new themes or other surprises that Trinket Sorceress fans can look forward to?
Currently I am working on creating an updated look on some of my animal ears. There is also a "spring" collection in the works, where I am attempting to model as many different types of plants and flowers that I can! But I am continually striving to practice new styles and add more designs!