What is Art*o*mat®?

What is Art*o*mat®? Created by Clark Whittington in 1997, Art*o*mat® machines are retired cigarette machines that have been converted to VEND ART! For only $5 you can collect paintings, drawings, sculpture, photography, jewelry, glass, mixed media and more -all the size of a pack of cigarettes. There are over 100 active machines in various locations throughout the country. Victoria Brown (that's me), and El Centro de Santa Fe are proud to host the first machine in New Mexico which debuted in February 2013. There are now 8 machines in northern New Mexico (Santa Fe and Albuquerque area). @ARToMatNM on Facebook/Instagram

How To Art*o*Mat®


I know it's the most fun to get a new toy or game and rip open the packaging and get to the good stuff before bothering to read the directions. Everything in life has directions and these old vintage (and sometimes cranky) cigarette machines are no exception. To get the most satisfaction out your Art*o*mat® KER-PLUNKING art-buying experience, here are some tips:

Step 1: Make your selection
Yes, I know you're excited. We all are when we first see an Art*o*mat® in real life! But what you may not know could hurt you (or at least make you really disappointed). The mechanism that takes your payment will allow you only a short amount of time after you put your money in (2 minutes) before it shuts and disables the knobs to pull. If you don't choose your selection first before you put in the bills you may just second-guess yourself out of five bucks!

Step 2: Enter Bills (1's and 5's only)
You have 2 MINUTES to make selection
These Art*o*mat® machines have been retrofitted to take paper bills. They take One dollar bills, and Five dollar bills. Fun fact: they do actually take two dollar bills as well -but who's got those anymore? They don't give change so don't bother trying to stick in a 10 or 20 dollar bill. Not all venues will have change at all times so it's a good idea to be prepared with plenty ones and fives. The bill-taker mechanisms aren't usually picky so just stick em in there -there's no right/wrong way to do it. Older bills are fine too.

Step 3: Pull knob and KER-PLUNK! You're an Art Collector!
Yes, It's true! Art from an Art*o*mat® machine has been made by real live human "Artists in Cellophane" that are more often than not professional artists. The artists are from all over the world and make any number of original pieces in just about any medium you can imagine -as long as it's the size of a box of cigarettes. Take a look at the artist's contact info on their art and see what their regular work is like. Art*o*mat® is a great marketing tool for artists. They really hope you'll fall in love and want to purchase their bigger pieces.  When you pull the knob, pull steady and with gusto. Some of these old machines require more gusto than others. Don't be shy!

Knob doesn't pull: Most likely there isn't any art in the column you have selected. You will have to make another selection before the two minutes is up and them mechanism disables the knobs. Another reason that knobs won't pull is that there is a jam (likely so if one knob is stuck out further than the rest). In this case the machine must be serviced before any art can be dispensed. If you have any problems please alert the venue's staff. You are also invited to contact me directly: call or text 505-795-1783 or email artomatnm(at)gmail.com.

Enjoy your art! Take it home and display. Give it as a gift. Take photos with your art and the machine and share on social media. Artists LOVE to be contacted and told where their art ends up. Use the following hashtags: #artomat #tourdeartomat #artomataddict and be sure to tag me @artomatnm (Instagram and Facebook) so I can see and repost (I'll ask permission before reposting). 

Visit all of the Art*o*mat® machines: Take a "Tour de Art*o*mat®" here in northern New Mexico and see all 8 machines to visit in the Albuquerque/Santa Fe area. #tourdeartomat
Click here for all the locations or grab a handy brochure available next to each machine for addresses and maps of the venues.

Get Inspired and Become an Art*o*mat® Artist! Think you've got an idea for some great art for these machines? We are always looking for new artists. Visit this page on artomat.org to find out more about becoming an Artist in Cellophane and get your work out into the world!

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