rocket tracking


Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Artomat! A Novel Idea to Sell your Art

Sara Lynn Walsh's Artomat work

What would you do with an old cigarette vending machine?  At our last Miami Valley Art Quilt Network meeting, member Sara Lynn told of a surprising use.  Clark Whittington, an installation artist, took a defunct cigarette vending machine and fitted it with boxes to sell his artwork.  Originally intended as a temporary exhibition in a local cafe, the idea took off and Whittington started the Artomat organization.

Whittington gets artists to do small pieces of work which fit into a cardboard box he supplies.....the artist decorates the box and returns about 20 boxes with pieces of similar, but not identical work.  Whittington loads the vending machines, over 90 active machines, with the artwork.  Purchasers pay $5 and pull the knob to drop down their investment in a mini piece of art.  The artist receives half of the purchase price.  He calls his group "Artists in Cellophane."  Please go to the website to see examples of the vending machines and the types of things he does as well as the entire history.
Sara Lynn and the box provided to fill for the Art-o-mat

What a cool idea.  The machines are very retro looking and who doesn't like a grab bag? There's something that just makes you want to whip out your money and feed the machine so it can feed your soul.  

On the other hand, one wishes that the price could be a tad bit higher...The pieces of art are about the size of an artist trading card.  They must be 2 1/8" x 3 1/4" x 7/8" (54mm x 82mm x 21mm) in order to fit into the machine. I don't want to downgrade the art.

It is, a way to get your name out there...and it is a way to get people to take notice.  But, does it demean the art?  Does it give the concept that the pieces are just throw away?

On the other hand, it is just downright fun.  I think, if I can get my head above water, I'll submit some just because I love the concept, and I love the old vending machines.

Sara Lynn is leaving our group and will be going to Winston-Salem to work for Artists-in-Cellophane.  She's only been a member of MVAQN for about 2 years, maybe pushing three, but she's really fun and I love her funky ideas.  Winston-Salem is such an artistically rich place, I'm sure she'll have a great time.  I wish her well.  Sara Lynn has an Etsy shop, but at the moment she has had to close it while moving.  You can find it here, just check back occasionally to 
find out when she's open again. 


Antonija said...

I like this idea. I can see these machines in every town around the country--in the right venue. I don't think it cheapens the art--it's a great way to get it out in front of people who may normally not see it in a fun way.
One may think it's "disposable", but then again, my children would get little toys and things from those claw machnes and keep them for years!

susan said...

this is a kool idea but $2.50 for a piece of art is kind of scarry. the materials along could cost that much but it diffenately would get your name out there...might have to try it.

Bonnie L Bowman said...

Fun, novel, creative idea. But I'm not sure how I feel about it. Is this just one more way for someone to make $$$$ from artists who are willing to givaway their work to get noticed?

Michigoose said...

Exactly, Bonnie and Susan...but I'm also struck by the fun factor. Perhaps it is something to try...and then evaluate. But then, Inchies I don't see as having a whole lot of funds expended...I don't know. Interesting concept at any rate...and yes, I know it has been around for a while, but not everyone lives in hip,metropolitan areas. I hadn't heard of it in Connecticut either, and I left there in 2005, 8 years after this company got going...and never here..nor have I seen a machine in the flesh....or chrome.

Del said...

Yes, the art dispensing machines have been around for years. There have been several discussions on the Quilt Art list which address the same questions you raise. Nobody is going to make a million doing this, but it does insert a tiny bit of fiber art into someone's life - better that than a trinket made in China! Be sure your website/blog address is included on the tiny art piece so that someone can look to see what other wonders you might have for sale!