Creating an art vending machine business

Originally published at: Creating an art vending machine business | Boing Boing


Is this from the new season of Portlandia?


I put my money in the machine and tried to buy a Banksy, but it came out shredded.


The Monkey’s Paw bookstore in Toronto has the Biblio-Mat, which for a mere $2 (CDN) token will dispense a randomized used book.

Here it is in action:


Reminds me of these:

I first saw this at MeowWolf in Santa Fe NM.
Super cool. For $5, you get a small (cigarette box sized) painting, mixed media piece, etc…


My fav is the penny squashing machines of yore. An object de arte sos to speak. You placed a penny into the machine and it pressed the penny into a souvenir depicting the very place you were at, like the Statue of Liberty or some other landmark. I snatched them up at garage sales often now.


I have a few things purchased from the Art-O-Mat - an upcycled cigarette machine - from roughly 2000-05, at a small art museum on the East Coast! Glad to know it made the rounds!


The business side of this is the impressive bit. Vending machines as art, fine whatever, it’s been done. But the fact that they have a sufficiently robust supply chain to keep 18 of these stocked regularly with interesting objects is really remarkable. I would not have have thought you could scale this operation at all.

Either they are spending a massive amount of time scouring antique shops and eBay for deals on curios, or the merchandise is all of the “looks hipster neato but is actually made in China and available in bulk” variety. Perhaps some of both.


I’m holding out for one that dispenses NFTs.


Monkey’s Paw rocks. I haven’t been in a while - in keeping with the situation - but should make the effort now. Thnx!

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I have a major weakness for vending machines-in part due to coming across the art vendomatic in a magazine. During our first year of the pandemic, I worked on making a seed vending machine. The actual machines are surprisingly expensive (for my budget) and it took a while to figure what type of machine would vend what I wanted. The stocking of the machine is fairly extensive mostly because collecting and cleaning seed takes forever. The packaging tends to take about a weekend’s worth of free time.


That’s so cool! It reminds me of those gumball-sized “seed bombs” where you put the seeds into a ball of compost/soil then coat with clay. When I lived in DC they were handed out as goodies at some events with instructions to throw them into vacant lots (if you didn’t have space or inclination to grow them at home) to reestablish pollinator habitats throughout the city, renegade style.
I wonder if those would work in a vending machine…


They’d probably be spiked with pot seeds… :thinking:


You know… I think they could if they weren’t too crumbly. I have another vending machine, a cute vintage penny toy n joy that I sadly couldn’t use for the project as the die in the machine wouldn’t accommodate a capsule. If you could make the seed bomb about the size of a small gumball it would work great.


Would totally be worth experimenting with adding some gelatin to the clay layer…could even add food coloring if you were using kaolin clay, so they’d even look like gum balls! So much fun stuff to do. I hope you’ll post on the crafting thread if you give it a go.


It’s so cool to think of weird things you can put in a vending machine. (Japan has a lot of these.)
It brings me back to an idea had a long time ago about a vending machine filled with porcelain objects: cups, saucers, little figurines, the works. Of course, these would not survive the drop down, and the only purpose of the machine was to satisfy the need of the vendor to break something (don’t we all feel that urge sometime?). Imagine the glee of putting in your money, selecting a particularly fragile, delightfully decorated teacup and seeing it slowly and deliberately being pushed over the edge by the corkscrew. There is not even a collect hatch, just a window onto a tragic collection of broken crockery.

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This idea was done. A vending machine for releasing anger (


Ll Cool J Chris Odonnell GIF by CBS

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Would be funny to have a whole cocktail themed vending machine, “we’ve got your cosmos, your old-fashions, we’ve got your malatov’s…”