Selling art using the Art-o-mat machine – Technique

Starting October 1, the Tech Library opened an Art-o-mat machine on the Grove Level of the Price Gilbert Library, next to the Sideways Cafe.

The Art-o-mat is a vintage cigarette vending machine, refurbished and reused to dispense small pieces of art in place of cigarettes.

Students can purchase a token at INFODesk or online using a QR code and drop the token into the machine to receive a small piece of art the size of a box of cigarettes.

The concept was created by Clark Whittington as a work of art to be shown at Penny Universitie, a cafe in North Carolina.

When the store owner wanted to keep the piece on display, Whittington decided, alongside his collective, Artists in Cellophane, to use the machine to promote the work of local artists and public consumption of the art.

From there, the piece became a global art project. Artists from all over the world apply and submit their work to join the collective of artists who feature in the machine.

Organizations wishing to host an Art-o-mat apply in the same way and begin the process of selecting and installing their vending machine and receive a shipment of small art objects to store it.

There are over 200 Art-o-mat machines in the United States and over 400 artists around the world are contributing to the project.

At Tech, Alison Valk, Multimedia Education Librarian, led the project through a library-promoted art program known as the ARTS Initiative.

On what inspired her to bring the project to Tech, Valk said, “I had heard about the project because I read about it in magazines and found out that Georgia really didn’t have much. of Art-o-mats. ”

Bringing an Art-o-mat to the library is also Tech’s goals.

“I thought it would be interesting for the renovated library to become a hospitality organization, as promoting artwork has become an important part of the strategic plan with Georgia Tech,” said Valk.

After Tech was designated as the host organization, Valk and a team of his colleagues at the library worked together to select the Art-o-mat model. They chose the Space Monkey, which was one of the first Art-o-mat machines.

Valk said this model was chosen because of its special significance to the tech community in reference to recent advancements in travel and space exploration, and that the themes of science and technology would be appealing to students. in technology.

Since its installation, the Art-o-mat has proven itself.

“At this rate, we’ll probably be [replacing the art] every two months. It has been very popular so far and we sell a lot of it, ”said Valk.

Art-o-mat also brings new artistic programming to the library.

The library plans to offer a workshop and conference with Clark Whittington in the spring of 2022, where Whittington will discuss the origins and inspiration of Art-o-mat and host a workshop to teach students how to create their own little art. . prototype.

This type of programming and the machine itself are part of the ARTs initiative – Tech’s efforts to increase students’ exposure to the arts through creative programming and public art exhibits on campus.

One offer of the ARTs initiative is smART (Students Making Art).

Expected in 2022, the objective of smART is to encourage teachers to integrate art into their course projects.

“[These courses] have the support of the library in any way you can, whether it’s bringing artists to classes as guest speakers or organizing artist workshops to help them think in new and creative ways, ”said Valk .

The library is also excited to welcome an Artist-in-Residence in Spring 2022 as part of Tech’s efforts to promote artistic and creative programming.

“I think it’s going to be really exciting. Ask artists to use the library as inspiration for their artwork and share this knowledge with students, ”said Valk.

The Art-o-mat fits well into the ARTs Initiative.

“I began to see a need for the library to help develop artistic programming. There weren’t a lot of opportunities for students to be creative, ”said Valk.

“I think it basically encourages students to look beyond the Georgia Tech bubble and see what people are doing around the world and across the country.”

To learn more about the library’s creative programming, contact Alison Valk at [email protected], or view the library’s programming calendar at

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About Margaret Shaw

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