Lines and Colors art blog

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)

My previous post on Art-o-Mat


11 responses to “Art-o-Mat (update)”

  1. john marc peckham Avatar
    john marc peckham

    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!

    1. Thanks, john. I wasn’t aware of Hayvend.

      Here’s the only reference I was able to come up with from a quick search:

  2. HEY, Charlie! Thanks for link – I was amazed at the ingenuity involved. Especially like the idea of repurposing the machines – to sell art instead of tobacco.

  3. w.j. richards Avatar
    w.j. richards

    so cool – but a get a weird deja vu from this.

  4. OMG, the various artists are so talented and creative! The birds painting (#5) touched my heart. Is it for sale?

    1. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. Thanx, Charley,
    I traced Asya Soloian back on Flickr @
    She’s very talented and promising!

  7. 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!

    1. 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.

  8. Great collection, indeed.