Art-o-Mat (update)

Art-o-Mat: Lindsay Matthews, Paula Griffin, Lee Fenyves, Julie Armbruster, Asya Soloian, Janie Reavis-Cox, Carrie Price, Jessica Guptill
So you’re standing in front of a beautifully refurbished vending machine; you put in your golden token, make your selection, pull the selection knob, listen to the delightful “clunkity-clunk” that means your selection has arrived in the vending tray; you reach down and pick up your… art?

Yes, if the vending machine is one of the over 90 classic vending machines around the US and Canada that have been converted to Art-o-Mats, vending machines that dispense original works of art.

I first wrote about Art-o-Mat in 2006; the idea was started in 1997 by artist Clark Whittington. There are now over 400 participating artists, creating small cigarette-pack size works in various media, and selling them inexpensively (usually $5 US) in Art-o-Mats.

On the Art-o-mat website there is a list of machines by location, as well as a selection of images of various Art-o-Mat machines and a list of sample works by various artists, linked to pop-up images of some of their Art-o-Mat works.

There are also guidelines for artists who would like to participate.

For those who wish to purchase Art-o-Mat art, but can’t get to a machine, you can now order an Art-o-Carton of 10 works online for $99.

There is also now a Flickr gallery of Art-o-Mat related photos.

Hey, can I bum five bucks? I need to get a pack of art.

(Images above, below the machines: Lindsay Matthews, Paula Griffin, Lee Fenyves, Julie Armbruster, Asya Soloian, Janie Reavis-Cox, Carrie Price, Jessica Guptill)


14 Replies to “Art-o-Mat (update)”

  1. Dear Charlie,

    I can appreciate Mr. Whittington’s efforts, and hard work to make Art-O-Mat a success.
    However, the idea belongs to a U.K. artist John Hayward. Hayvend machines are an idea that came about from John’s grandfather. He has parlayed this concept into a multiple art platform which really deserves some recognition.

    I was introduced to Mr. Hayward years ago in England by a nice young lady from Winston-Salem, N.C. He was kind enough to allow me to participate with my art from the U.S.A!

  2. I don’t think there’s any way to buy a particular piece other than to encounter it in a machine by chance. Actually, that photo looks like a group of individual Art-o-Matic pieces, so the artist, Asya Soloian, probably has others.

  3. The economy involved baffles me, the artist receives 125$ for 50 pieces of art, and out of that they need to pay their materials (like 50 boxes are 15 to 20$) so basically, they pay to sell their art. There is hardly anything left once they have paid for the material. And they get paid after the art has sold. It’s incredible what people will put up with because they are artists.

  4. Very good points by Chantal Fournier – I think at the moment there are very few artists or illustrators making a living wage.

    Forging on bravely ahead from that point, this is amazing. Dave Dubé is right – a beautiful way to repurpose those old machines. Fun. And you can never collect them all!

  5. I doubt that any of the artists consider this an essential source of income. Economically, if it’s actually a negative number, I wonder how this would compare to the artists printing up and distributing business cards.

  6. Why Art-O-Mat is not only counterproductive but abusive.

    1. Art-O-Mat informs and reminds children that they can get away with obtaining and using tobacco product. It does not inform and remind them of anything else whatsoever and I am NOT wrong about this. Take a close look at what this is. It’s a cigarette machine, which advertises the tobacco industry’s history and continued success, by cleverly pretending to distribute ART!

    2. Tobacco companies are now focused on the countries where they can get away with it, and marketing directly to children. If you need citation on this just type Indonesia Smoking Kids into YouTube or view this video specifically: How Indonesian Kids Are Getting Hooked On Cigarettes:

    3. Convincing hundreds of people to play along with an abusive mind game involving children is disrespectful to say the least, and donating a quarter of your personal profit margin to an elementary school doesn’t compensate. If this guy had any integrity he would donate all of it, and abandon the activity immediately.

    4. Art is just another vice. If you’re having trouble understanding and agreeing with this, remind yourself of the source. Where did you get it? A vending machine? That in itself requires no further inquiry, such as why and wether it’s because someone else did it and you heard the cellophane crinkle.

    5. Demoting yourself by saying you hope your activity doesn’t backfire shows that it both will and should. Someone who says that makes it obvious they’re not where they need to be.

    6. Throwing gang signs isn’t showing that you own your power. It doesn’t even show that you’re a mature adult. Get out of my art gallery with that garbage. Go to where people do that and do it there

    7. Art-O-Mat was not created by it’s current manager in response to a Pavlovian reaction to a snack wrapper. It was created by a cigarette addicted minor experiencing Pavlovian calls to actual cigarette wrappers, as a bad joke and sting on capitalism while under the influence of the illegal psychedelic drug psilocybin, with help from a cocaine addicted illegal Mexican immigrant who got the cocaine he was high on when he and the kid shook hands on this idea directly from Klaus Nomi and David Bowie who happened to be in town. The date this occurred was new year’s eve of 1992.

    8. Clark reported that some children pointed out that there were still cigarettes in his vending machines to a dj on npr. He is in fact aware of the truth of this, but he thinks he’s “in on it”

    1 in 50 Indonesian children start smoking at age 4. Support our cause by sharing this message with at least one person to spread awareness and force an asap Art-O-Mat shutdown.

  7. Nice try, but no it doesn’t. I named Art-O-Mat and Artists In Cellophane with Sebastian Matias in 1992, then we delivered it to Clark, who the idea now belongs to. I know nothing of this Wayward fellow and never have.

    Emanuel Tejeiro, creator of Art-O-Mat and Artists In Cellophane

  8. @ Emanuel T:
    “Art-O-Mat informs and reminds children that they can get away with obtaining and using [a] tobacco product. [….] Take a close look at what this is. It’s a [former] cigarette machine”
    Most “kids” in the U.S.A. where Art-O-Mat machines predominantly exist are too young to have ever seen an operating cigarette machine nevermind recognize it for what it is.
    Furthermore “kids” don’t need any reminders that they can get up to no good. They seem to come with that intrinsic knowledge.
    On a side note; we’re trying to decide if your post is bad comedy, or if you just felt the need to be a shit and harsh everyone’s mellow.

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