Art-o-mat at the San Carlos Library

Art for Five Dollars?

Where can you buy art for $5 other than a garage sale? Try the San Carlos Library's Art-o-Mat, opens a new window, a retired cigarette vending machine converted to sell art. Deposit $5 for the thrill of pulling the knob for an original work of art hand-made by a real artist!

San Carlos Library's Art-o-mat is stocked with cigarette-pack-sized boxes of art such as a painting, sculpture, art print, jewelry, photo, cut paper, or tiny bound book.

The History

The idea of converting cigarette vending machines to sell art came to artist Clark Whittington, opens a new window, whose first machine appeared in 1997 at a cafe in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, with his black and white photographs for $1 each.

The idea of placing machines in libraries and businesses needed support from other artists, thus the group "Artists in Cellophane" formed. Now more than 200 machines in the U.S. please customers with art by more than 400 artists.

Have you purchased art from an Art-o-mat? Share your experience below!