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Making a unique belt buckle

A blank belt buckle is shown with a printout of the future design on top. The design is an eye in the sky with a green triangle on top of a hill where a person steps through

I gave my partner a belt about 20 years ago – it broke, and I gave him a blank belt buckle to add a design of his choice. We searched for a long time, and I didn’t quite find anything to match his taste. Drawing something myself wasn’t a choice either if you know my style. We finally settled for a design by Dave Danzara’s Lost In Time Designs called “the matrix”.

Different iterations of the belt buckle design are shown.

I stole the picture from the page, printed it out, cropped it to the right size and ran it through Photoshop several times, altering the colours and contrast. Then I printed it out on photo paper – three times! As that’s how long it apparently takes to figure out which side is the right one for the photoprint and which way round to put the paper into the printer. Then I hand-coloured it. After all of that was done I cut it to fit into the belt buckle.
My original plan was to cover it with epoxy resin, so I covered it with a varnish to protect the coloured print and prevent the resin to melt the colours – which destroyed it…

the belt buckle design after the varnish liquidized the color
Art didn’t work

The result has its own charm but we prefered the original design.
So I started over. I sealed it with transparent spray varnish this time, and the result was excellent. We tried it in the belt buckle, and everybody loved it.

The story could end here, and the lazy part of myself wanted it to do so, but the other part envisions a better world, and that world has to start with me. And it’s seemingly small things that make a difference. So I sat down, wrote an email to Dave who made the original design. He replied quickly, I sent him 25$, and now we can officially enjoy the fantastic design.
What might be problematic is that many of Dave’s designs seem “easy”, by which I mean once you have seen them, you believe you can recreate them “easily”. But that totally neglects the time, effort, practice, creativity and expertise that went into the initial idea and its execution. All of which I clearly didn’t have and it’s worth being paid – without arguing and haggling.
I want to point out that it feels different. One would have been the “some design I found on the internet belt buckle”, but now my present was an official and unique “Lost In Time Design belt buckle”, and that’s amazing.

The beld buckle worn - where the design turns out to be upside down - and an old ipod is held next to it. The ipod is playing a song by Rantanplan
Apparently, it wasn’t enough to show the belt buckle off but the iPod that is working again had to go into the picture as well

Pro tip: After all that, when you finally glue the design to the buckle, make sure you do so the right way because the current version is upside down.

Btw. The joke “artwork – art didn’t work” is a reference to this amazing fowl language comic.