By Natalie Arroyo Camacho

David Aguirre, the mastermind behind PINetration®, designs merchandise “para la raza.”

Five years ago, Aguirre wanted a Cantinflas pin to gift to a friend. He scoured the Internet and asked around the pin community. Nothing, which was particularly odd considering that Cantinflas is a legendary Mexican actor and comic.

Instead of resigning himself to not giving his friend a Cantinflas pin, Aguirre was inspired to make his own. This was the start of his career in enamel pin-making.

He continued being a key player in the pin game (which is a lot more competitive than one might think, according to Aguirre) and was eventually contacted for pin design by two famous Valley kids, Danny Trejo and George Lopez.

Aguirre and George Lopez connected via Instagram, the designer said.

“After [we connected], he asked me to make a pin for his restaurant and he had a design for it,” Aguirre recalled. “It was one of his face in black and white, with the word “chingon” that made up his hair.

“He was happy about the finished product. He went on to say, ‘Those are f*cking great!’ George has been a super humble guy with me, which [I think is] the 818 respect,” Aguirre said, ending his email response with a “:).”

Lopez wasn’t wrong in the slightest by saying that the pin was great — take a look for yourself.

A black and white pin of George Lopez wearing sunglasses in which his hair spells out the word “chingon,” which is Spanish for “badass”

Down the road, Lopez would ask Aguirre for 100 of his Keep Families Together pin. The pin shows “an American flag [whose] stripes…represent bars from a jail, with adult red hands being separated from smaller hands representing a child’s hand,” Aguirre shared.

A black and white American flag whose stripes represent jail bars, with an adult red hand being separated the smaller red hand of a child

Aguirre’s relationship with Danny Trejo, a Valley kid from Pacoima, came about after Aguirre made a portrait of Trejo that gained popularity. He heard from Trejo’s assistant after the release and immediately thought the worst.

“I was like, ‘Oh, man… here come the lawyers,'” Aguirre remembered, but it turned out Trejo loved the design and wanted to buy pins. “Buy some!? He can have as many as he wants!”

Appeased by Aguirre’s talent (and perhaps also his Valley roots), Trejo asked Aguirre to make pins for the opening of Trejo’s Doughnuts.

The Danny Trejo portrait by PINetration® that caught the actor’s attention
The design that PINetration® made for Danny Trejo for the opening of Trejo’s Doughnuts

Via video chat in November 2020, as he sat in his San Fernando home, Aguirre recalled being teased about his Valley roots — the same roots that landed him gigs with George Lopez and Danny Trejo.

“When I tell people I live in San Fernando, everyone’s like, ‘Where’s that at again?,'” he joked. “And I’m like, that’s the heart of the Valley — that’s why it’s called the San Fernando Valley.”

This fact may have influenced one of my personal favorite pieces from PINetration®, peep the 818 atop the street sign.

Aguirre, a northeast Valley-based artist, has never stopped making waves. Most recently, he launched a pin that has come to be known as “tío Bernie.”

He originally released this pin on Feb. 12 and it sold out in two hours, in what Aguirre noted was “one of the fastest [pins] to sell out.”

“The tío Bernie pin was an unexpected hit,” Aguirre revealed. “I drew it out and thought I’d only make a handful because people weren’t going to be into it. Next thing you know, I have a super high demand for it. The first run of it sold out in two hours and then I had tons of people emailing me about it.”

Aguirre told himself he’d make a second run as a presale — how ever many orders he had for it would be the amount of pins he made. That’s it.

He capped preorder at 100. Ninety pins sold in two hours. By the next morning, Aguirre said, “all 100 were gone. I’m still having people ask for it, but I want it to be a unique pin. The few that got it were the lucky ones.”

Follow PINetration® on Instagram and visit their Etsy shop.

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