How this local artist used buttons to gain confidence.

How this local artist used buttons to gain confidence.

My name is Rosanne and I am from San Bernardino, California. Making buttons has changed my life. I bought my first 1 inch button machine in 2010; I was 21 years old and a very quiet person. I came up with the moniker Awkward-Tones as a way to talk about my art, crafts and buttons. I felt like it fit me since I felt very awkward growing up and I liked the word ‘tones’ because it has many meanings, from colors, music, writing, or even situations. I started selling my buttons at local art shows around 2012. My display was a cork board on an easel, it wasn't much but I enjoyed these events and met a lot of different people. Selling at those art shows helped me open up and gain confidence in myself and my creations. I started making buttons for any one that wanted them and had a design already made as I didn't feel like a good enough artist to design for them. I am not a business person; I make my buttons for pure love and joy. My customers are local to me and consist of bands, brands, DJs, artists, schools, Cause Walk Teams and events.

I worked for the Creative Before and After School Program for Success (CAPS) at an elementary school for about 7 years and during that time designed my own images to let our students know they were awesome. I lead many projects with my students involving making buttons and teaching them about the process. I loved to see them express their creativity and wear their own buttons. I purchased a 2. 25 inch maker and would pre-cut paper for my 6th grade students and let them draw and color whatever they wanted and as I pressed them, their eyes were wide with amazement. These projects came from my own pocket but the reward was the experience I got to give them. I loved to see them be as excited as I felt about buttons.

When I attended Cal State University San Bernardino (CSUSB) I volunteered at the Robert and Frances Fullerton Museum of Art (RAFFMA) on campus. I gave tours at RAFFMA and eventually made buttons for them. In 2013, I was asked to make the buttons for the first Arts and Music Festival on campus. With a design made by one of the school’s graphic artists, I pressed the buttons for Volunteers, Staff and the ones they were going to sell. It was nice to be a part of something that is now an annual event. I feel like I help the community with highlighting art around us. Around 2013 the Free Arts Movement became very popular locally and every now and then I leave some sample buttons or extras that I made around downtown Riverside for people to find.

I like to use my buttons in charitable ways as well; one of the things that mean the most to me is Cause Walks. I have joined and even started teams for Cause Walks, such as Breast Cancer, Walk to Defeat ALS, and I.E Heart Walk. Every time I am on a team I give buttons to people that make a donation. I think that my favorite design I came up with for a team was the Team Bickham Batman design for the Hero Walk for Autism 2017. These Walks are very near and dear to me as my husband is a heart transplant; we lead Team Tinman at the I.E Heart Walk. My husband also helps me press large orders that I get from bands or for events. He also knows my passion for buttons and encouraged me to make buttons as our wedding favors.

My greatest accomplishment was when I purchased a capsule dispensing machine and decided to put the buttons in the capsules. In 2014, I pitched the idea to the Riverside Art Museum (RAM) with my own designs. I am very proud to say that my dispensing machine is still in RAM and the children that visit the museum and that take classes there enjoy my buttons. I have very cute characters such as a dog, bunny and cat and quotes like ‘Art has my Heart’ and Follow Your Art’. The quotes fit in with the art museum but have a double meaning to me. Artemus also known as Artie, is my four year old son and my inspiration. He watches me make my orders and helps me count them. My newest character for RAM is a fox just like his favorite stuffed animal. I take Artie with me when I drop off my buttons to refill my dispensing machine. I feel like going to the museum at a young age enriches his appreciation for art and encourages him to be creative. I plan to one day teach him how to make buttons and work on projects together.

Making buttons has made such a big impact on my life, I went from being shy and quiet to a person that could speak to anyone about their passion. I went from not knowing any artists around me to being a true supporter of local arts and have been a part of an art movement. Now that I have the confidence to make my own designs I consider myself a working artist that sells buttons in a museum which is a true feat as an artist. I have made many friends and have clients that have grown along with me. Awkward-Tones Buttons are not the most popular in the world nor do I have tons of followers on social media, I do not make much money and tend to give my buttons away off my own jackets but I do it all because I feel like I should share and to see someone smile because I give them a button is the best feeling in the world. I am now 30 years old and passionate about making buttons, I have so many great experiences that wouldn’t have been possible without my buttons. Buttons are a part of my life and I look forward to leaving my machines to my son as part of my legacy.

Thank you Dr. Don’s!


  • Rosanne AK

    Thank you so much to those of you that read my story and continue to support me on this journey. 2020 was the toughest year for my family as my husband was diagnosed with stage 4 Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and having the pandemic looming over us and distance learning for our 6 year old. Although our family took many hits and losses, I am proud to say we are still here together. Nick is in remission and we are very close to normalcy as we have been quarantining since March 2020 because of Nick’s immune system. Thank you for all the kind words, they really keep me going and keep me positive.

  • Belinda

    Very talented individual! Does great work! No skimping

  • Charleen

    I have known Rosanne since our college days and I am just so happy she pursued her passion of art and how she is sharing her talent and love with the community. Absolutely beautiful story.

  • JC Cortese

    I just happened to stumble across Dr. Don’s, searching for a firm that would create vinyl stickers for a cause that I’m working to spread awareness for. Since I already had the exact design in the form of a 3.5″ × 5″ image file, created on computer, I just needed a company that seemed to have positive feedback from customers, and one that was fair price-wise. Dr. Don’s seemed a good fit, plus they are local, which is always a bonus. After submitting the required info, I had such a positive experience with the folks in this company, that I decided to explore around their website to see what they’re all about. I am so glad that I did! The first thing that caught my eye was the image of Rosanne, sitting at a little table with her button press atop of it and the other accoutrements that go with it. Seeing the description of the story that the image represented, I was compelled to read on. Normally a headline such as that wouldn’t necessarily cause me to do so. However, I had a very eventful week leading up to today that wasn’t exactly fun & laughter, more like extremely stressful, anxiety-inducing, and quite terrifying to the point that one’s world view, even one’s faith, is shaken severely. To top it off, last night I had to listen intently and compassionately to someone that I’m close to, as she recounted, barely able to speak at times, things that she was forced to endure, inhumane horrors that were done to her, things that I will not nor cannot repeat here, or anywhere else, for that matter. Hearing this, I was deeply affected and completely overwhelmed with sadness and empathy, and that, coupled with the exhaustion from the prior week’s events, it was all I could do to keep my composure and stop myself from sobbing uncontrollably. So, upon reading this little story about this caring, sweetheart of a wife and mother of a young boy, I felt so much gratitude to God to have led me to Dr. Don’s, out of the wide expanse of places on the web that I could have chosen to have my stickers made. Your story, Rosanne, was the little nugget of hope, the warm ray of sunshine that my heart so desperately needed, at the absolute right time to keep it beating properly, and restore my faith. From my heart, to you & your wonderful family, thank you for what you’ve done for the Arts, and thank you for conquering your fears and having the “guts” and the confidence to share such a beautiful story! May you & they continue to be blessed, always. I am…………
    JC Cortese
    p.s. I am a life-long musician, began playing the violin!/fiddle when I was 4 1/2 yrs old, and has been my main instrument, along with guitar, mandolin (Bluegrass), percussion, and singing. I had a wonderful career in the music biz, and was able to retire at age 39. I’ve been very blessed in this regard!

  • Mario C

    This is so cool! I’ve never owned a button (except for the one they give you at disneyland for your bday lol) but it would be cool to have something small that goes with you but yet have a huge meaning behind it. Very cool Rosanne. Keeo rocking the buttons!

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