Mr. Arthur Small (aka Michael White) made us very happy the other day by letting us know about his Vending Art Company. Started in 2007 and operating out of La Mirada, CA, Vending Art Company sells artwork out of old postage stamp vending machines, like this one:
It’s really surprising that there isn’t a lot more art vending out of postage stamp machines. Historically in the US, the three most successful vending machine styles have been cigarettes, bubblegum/toy capsule, and postage stamps. The old postage stamp machines are gorgeous, really well built, and are usually quite affordable. The first real reappropriation of vending machines by artists (that we know of) were of stamp vending machines by Robert Watts and Yoko Ono in the 60s. And yet the Vending Art Company is the first example we’ve found since 1966 of stamp vending machines used this way!
It might be the form factor. The size is limited to 1″ X 1.75″ and under .125″ thick, which can be challenging. Callithump! experimented with a postage stamp vending machine, but it was just too labor intensive. Of course, I really let philately get in in the way, attempting to recreate the “sanitary folder” the stamps came in, as well as making the artwork it contained perforated and gummed. The machine still sits in the garage, mocking me because I haven’t yet filled it with art and deployed it to a public place!
Michael found a much better approach than I did, realizing that items shaped like stamp booklets will vend. They don’t actually have to be stamp booklets! The 1″ X 1.75″ can actually be an advantage when used to deliver a concentrated dose of original art: