Vending Machine Art

What is an Art-o-mat?

Art-o-mat machines are retired cigarette vending machines that have been converted to vend art. There are 82 active machines in various locations throughout the country. What do you get from an Art-o-mat? The experience of pulling the knob alone is quite a thrill, but you also walk away with an original work of art. What an easy way to become an art collector.


In Minneapolis, the mission of Altered Esthetics’ art vending machine is to make affordable artwork from local, national, and international artists accessible to everyone. Altered Esthetics’ art vending machine is also a great opportunity to help artists promote and expose their artwork to the public.

see A Brief History of Art Vending Machines

Even book arts are available in vending machines … Read this blog


One thought on “Vending Machine Art

  1. Since we live in a vend-oriented society — where we fantasize daily, even hourly, of instant gratification — the concept of vending machine art may be problematic by association. For what do vending machines connote, anyway? — unhealthy food and beverage, environmentally harmful packaging … does the vending machine cheapen the art? or cheapen the standard for what counts as art? Does the fact that the dispenser previously dispelled a notoriously unhealthy product influence our thoughts about the product it currently dispenses? or should it? It’s hard to dispute that the idea somewhat charming, somehow I think that our pop-art predecessors would be proud. It’s true that we all vend something at some point — one could say that we humans are constantly vending — why not art? There’s just something in the nature of vending machines that seems inappropriate for housing something that is genuinely worthwhile. Vending machines, by nature, occasion disappointment; whether they refuse to take your crumpled cash or steal it once it’s accepted; whether the candy is stale or the soda flat; or whether the empty containers find their way, somehow, into the belly of a North Pacific albatross. Vending machines manufacture disappointment, deception, pollution. What are the implications of conflating art with trash? or art that promotes consumerist micro-behaviors?


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