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Cups' "Artomaton" One-of-a-Kind Vending Machine

Cups’ vending machine is one of a kind, and it doesn’t dispense coffee beans.
Instead, it’s called Artomaton, and it’s filled with artwork from local artists around north Mississippi. For $5 in $1 bills, a customer has an array of options from 20 artists such as J-Man’s “Faulk All Y’all” card or a small bag of Cypress Lake Soap.

The Artomaton, courtesy of YAC
The Artomaton, courtesy of YAC

The vending machine is a part of Yoknapatawpha Arts Council’s (YAC) larger ongoing project: an art incubator that helps local artists build businesses in Oxford.
“Our goal is to work with visual and performing artist to aid them in expanding their reach and audience,” YAC director Wayne Andrews said. “The program offers workshops with business professionals, marketing assistance, and opportunities to reach new audience.”
Andrews said the Artomaton is one of the art incubator tools to provide a retail space for artists. “Often (the artists) do not have a place to sell work, but it is also a marketing tool as we work with artists to include information about their work, how to find them online or contact them,” Andrews said.
YAC’s goal with the Artomaton was to tap into the visitors who enjoy Oxford and want to have a souvenir. “The unique nature of a $5 piece of local art taps into that market,” Andrews said.
YAC purchased the vending machine with funds donated by LOFT, Cathead Vodka and the Mississippi Arts Commission. Kari Khone Davis, graphic designer, created a design wrap for the machine and Documart donated the wrap in support of the project.
“This has truly been a community effort,” Andrews said.
YAC initially planned for the Artomaton tour location around Oxford in answer to the Cathead Vodka’s challenge on how YAC can showcase local artists and businesses. Cups and Lamar Lounge offered to host the machine and Cups received the machine this past May.
“We love having it here, and it’s for a good cause,” Cups manager Lee Bowie said. “It supports local artists and we do have their larger paintings available in Cups.”
“Our plan to move the Artomaton has changed slightly,” Andrews said. “The arts council received a grant from the Mississippi Development Authority to expand the project. So, instead of moving the machine we received additional funds to expand the program and create more machines.”
Stacey Sanford, who works for the YAC, provided a list of the 20 artists: herself, Sarah Gardner, Lynn Wells, J-Man, Cecil Bowers, Cindy Aune, Frank Estrada, Michelle Zerangue of Cypress Creek, Henry Clay, Debbie Myers, Althea Church, Caren Watts, with featured groups or organizations SFA, the Lafayette County and Oxford Public Library, Leadership Lafayette, and the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council.
Here is a video of Callie Daniels, reporter for HottyToddy.com, purchasing from the Artomaton:

For every purchase from the Artomaton the artists receive $4 per item sold and the final dollar pays the sale tax of $0.35 and the remaining $0.65 is reinvested in the project.
If an artist would like to include their work in the Artomaton or be part of our gallery program or monthly art markets they can contact the arts council at (662) 236-6429 or find them online to learn about various programs.
Callie Daniels is a staff writer for HottyToddy.com and can be reached at callie.daniels@hottytoddy.com.

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