During one of his recent travels, Charles Fazzino happened to come across an “Art-O-Mat” machine. By the looks of it, you would assume that you were in some type of time warp. It looks like a mix between an old time jukebox and a cigarette machine, but re-purposed to dispense art! And to our surprise, with a little research, we’ve come to find out that it is just that! An “Art-O-Mat” machine is a retired cigarette vending machine that has been re-purposed to sell and dispense artwork. There are more than 100 Art-o-mats stashed around the world in various locations, all making art more accessible, easily packaged, and exposed to a much broader audience. Artists produce original works according to a very specific set of guidelines aimed at mimicking the dimensions and weight of a traditional cigarette pack.
Originally started by artist Clark Whittington, Art-o-mats were designed as an innovative way to expose more people to more art, a way for budding artists to get their names out there and get different sets of eyeballs on their work. The tiny treasures spit out by these machines are the very definition of populism, spreading the gospel of art to the masses in a handy, inexpensive, and quirky way. “I’ve been an artist for over thirty years,” said Charles Fazzino. “And I am still so impressed to see the new ideas that artists come up with to promote their work and get it out into the public. I know these have been around for awhile now but I’ve never seen one. This is such a cool idea. I had to go back to the lobby of my hotel and buy a few pieces.”
So the next time you THINK you see a cigarette machine, take a second look, it might be something MUCH more interesting. Below are some photos of the Art-o-mat Charles saw and the pieces he bought from it.