The Vending Machine Gallery

The Vending Machine Gallery is a new buying concept from a group of London-based artists and designers. Striving to diversifiy art sales, a well curated mix of contemporary work from the likes of Petro and Katie Brooks can be purchased from a vending machine in unexpected locations across London, beginning with The Fox pub in East London.


There’s been a rise in savvy buyers who are cutting out galleries and approaching artists directly through Instagram and social media, The Vending Machine Gallery joins this movement for simplified, transparent sales. We caught up with co-founder Tom Bird to talk Poundland inspiration and the importance affordable art.

What is the Vending Machine Gallery?                                                                     

It is a gallery concept based on selling artwork in a vending machine, bringing the sale of art to interesting locations and outside of traditional gallery settings.                                                      

How did the idea come about?                                                                              

My friends and I had been kicking around a few different ideas around in various discussions in pubs and my studio.The thought that really kicked it off was the idea of putting an art gallery in a USB port in a wall, from there we were just trying to find ways to put money in the hands of artists rather than them just doing something cool but for absolutely no money. Putting art in a vending machine seemed the next step. Within 2 days of talking about it we had a location for the show and 30 of our 40 artists already confirmed.

What makes Vending Machine Gallery standout in the current landscape of contemporary art galleries and auctions?                                                               We want to make art as easy to buy as a bag of crisps. I also think that the average person would draw a lot more enjoyment from supporting an emerging artist by buying a print for £20 than having a £20 print from IKEA or a 1920’s reprint of a Pears soap advert or that cat cafe poster hanging on their wall. We want to promote emerging artists to people who don’t go to galleries or follow the art industry, we just want people to buy something they like.

What kind of work are you selling?                                                                    

What is nice is that we have a huge range of artists. Some amazing illustrative work from the likes of Lo Parkin who has done an amazing architectural exploration of a council estate to Mat Williams who produced a drawing of a Mallard ducks head that I cannot take my eyes off. We wanted the artists to have fun and Will Tuck’s “Static”, Zoey Zhao’s “Dignity”, and Maximage’s “Alien painting in fall” really encapsulate that for me. Jeremy Banx and James Clohessy have really bought into the whole vending machine idea with their artwork. I like so many of them and chatting to the artists about what they have decided to do, Chris Lawton produced his work after being inspired in Poundland!

Is there a theme or idea that runs through the show?                                           

Not really, we have never really done anything like this before and although in our collective brains we all thought this idea of selling art in a vending machine seems like an amazing idea, the fact is until we do a show we actually have no idea. We wanted to keep the concept quite raw, just sling mud at the wall and see what sticks. I have told all the artists to do exactly what they want so to that extent I guess the theme is “I do what I want I thought this was a fun thing to do.”

The price points are low. Why do you think it’s important that people can access great art at a good price?                                                                             

Each artist has a print run of 50, individually numbered and the prices range from £5-£20. This was partly a logistical thing, feeding pound coins into a vending machine can be laborious, but also we wanted to essentially compete with the pub and make the art a similar price to buying a round.

I think it is really important for art like this to be accessible both through location and price. Opening up emerging artists like this and making them accessible in this way is important. In the same way creating a unique purchasing experience helps build the story around the art. When someone asks you where you got that print from that hangs in your hall you can turn around and say “I bought it in a vending machine in a pub” and by creating this story and combining it with emerging artists I think we build the profile of the artist in a more interesting and influential way then if it was bought from a stall in Camden market or from a normal gallery.

The Vending Machine Gallery runs from 7 May – 11 June 2015 at The Fox, Kingsland Road, London.

– via The Vending Machine Gallery – News – Frameweb.