Salutations Creative Beings!!!
People often wonder where artists ideas come from, my experience has been everything that surrounds me has the potential to stir me in some way resulting in a creative perspective.
I am grateful when some ideas have come before me and i want to give credit where credit is due... Art Vending has an international span. when i began in the early stages of this installation ,research was a huge part of it to find out what,where,who and why. The common demoninator is the vending machine and diverse they are depending on the artists vision. Some of the vending machines that have been used are pop machines,bubblegum machines,condom,cigarette and so on...
I am the fourth Canadian Art Vendor, the above pics are from the project called Distroboto based out of Montreal. Louis Rastelli is the visionary behind this project, Louis uses old cigarette machines to vend small works of art.
I have had the pleasure of speaking with Louis on several occasions and learning about his art vending journey, he has been a great support in assisting my own creative walk. Distroboto has been around for six years and now is in expansion mode as Louis has purchased several more old cigarette machines since the recent smoking ban in Montreal.
Distroboto is always seeking artists and i encourage you to particpate in this art vending project.
Thank You Louis for your creativity!!!
For more information on Distroboto:
Other Projects in Canada:
Outsider Art In A Box.......VancouverBelow is an older article on Distroboto and Louis Rastelli
Thinking inside the box
Louis Rastelli’s Distroboto celebrates two years of packing ’em in
by CHRISTINE REDFERN
If you’ve been by Casa del Popolo, the celebrated café/show space on St-Laurent, one of the first things you may have noticed is the unusual cigarette-vending machine by the door. Drop in a toonie, punch a button and the only thing you’re not gonna get is smokes.
That machine is the Distroboto, and it’s the brainchild of Montreal’s Louis Rastelli, also the cat behind the notable zine Fish Piss. For exactly two years now, Casa-goers have been pumping coinage into the machine and in return getting all manner of local art product - mini-comics, zines and cassettes, miniature dioramas and finger puppets, collages and pocket-sized paintings, silkscreened oddities and curios and ephemera. The only constants are the $2 tag, the ciggy-pack format and the “for the scene, by the scene” ethos.
“Half of it is the experience, like Kinder Eggs,” says Rastelli. “You don’t always know what the item is, you have to undo the package, it’s this whole experience. And it’s only $2 - in a café or bar, you can only get a coffee for that price. Ultimately, even if people don’t like the item, they know the money is going straight to the artist.”
A pack of possibilities
Rastelli got the idea on a 1999 road trip to North Carolina - tobacco country, of course. “A guy there named Clark Whittington, when all the tobacco companies started closing factories, started noticing all these unused machines around. He started something called Art-o-Mat, which is a bit different from Distroboto but still old cigarette vending machines. He prefers one-of-a-kind items by do-stuff-in-galleries kind of artists. In fact most of his machines are in galleries or museums - he has one in the Whitney in New York and I think the Smithsonian as well. He’s up to about 40 machines. He charges $5 and doesn’t like taking reproduced stuff, photocopied or even silkscreened. He does fairly well but at a much slower pace.
“Being a zine maker, I saw a lot of potential there. I’d bought a number of items from the Art-o-Mat, but after the third or fourth, I didn’t see myself coming back every week and trying to buy every little item. I was thinking about zines, minicomics, little books, flipbooks, cassettes - mind you, with the format of our cigarette packs, we can fit cassettes in. What got me excited was thinking about the size of the packs back home and how much more could be done with them.”
Rastelli wasn’t the only one hyped up by possibilities one could stuff into the standard 3”x4” pack. Once local artists got wind of it, they came up with even more - “thinking inside the box,” as Rastelli puts it.
“I’m constantly amazed by stuff I never thought of. Greeting cards, little envelopes, paper dolls, finger puppets - those are selling incredibly well.”
Keeping ’em coming
Since its debut, the Distroboto has spat out some 4,000 items, from a selection of about 100 possibilities by 70-odd locals. Those numbers confirm Rastelli’s faith in his project.
“The first night, when it almost totally sold out, I was half happy, half dismayed. I’d just spent two weeks making sure this thing was well stocked and then I had to fill it up again? What had I gotten myself into? That’s a good problem to have because it means the thing is working. It hit the ground running.
“It didn’t drop off, either. I expected that three or four months down the line, there would be a plateau, after which sales would drop. In fact, it was the opposite. As word of mouth got around, it went up and up and up. It still hasn’t stopped increasing.”
In that case, it’s time for more machines. The second Distroboto will be unveiled across the street from Casa at la Sala Rossa this weekend. Inside will be a host of neat, new stuff. Expect mini-comics by Julie Doucet (Montreal’s original mini-comic queen) and Billy Mavreas, expect zines by Andy Brown and Squirrel Girl, expect fridge magnets from Rick Trembles, “hagiography cards” by Hillary Kael, painted blocks by Guy Boutin and cat toys by MissE.
Another new item in the Distroboto is the mini-CD, a three-inch, burnable disc that local musicians like Lederhosen Lucil, American Devices, 1-Speed Bike and les Georges Leningrad are filling with their own loose ends.
“It isn’t just music you can put on them. I’m looking forward to people putting on short films and Flash animation. I’m already seeing a catalyst effect - musicians are telling me, ‘Hey, we’ve got this crazy jam, we don’t know what to do with it, it would be great in the machine!’”
Domo arigato, màs Distrobotos
Rastelli’s vision doesn’t end at the corner of St-Laurent and St-Joseph. He’s gunning for grants to bring the machine off the Plateau - to Dawson College, Con U’s Fine Arts building, Cheval Blanc and hopefully NDG - and in turn bring non-Plateau artists into the Distroboto.
“I’d like to keep the administration of the machines non-profit. I don’t think it’s realistic to be able to take a percentage off sales, pay a staff and overhead and start some kind of company. I’d have to raise the price so high that the whole chemistry would go. At two bucks, it’s really exciting - ‘Look what I got for only $2!’ At five dollars, you’re like, ‘I paid $5 for this?’ I don’t think it’s feasible to make money with this, but I think I’ve done a good job with my grant proposal of convincing the Quebec and Canada Arts Councils that if they want to support something that in turn supports the arts, this is the kind of thing.”
I ask Rastelli if anyone’s ever submitted items that he considered inappropriate for Distroboto. “That happened only twice so far, out of 100 items,” he tells me. “Once, I trusted an artist with something that had only been described to me over the phone. It was a classic case of somebody gluing this to that and calling it art. They made 30 and only sold four. Since then, my policy has been, make one, send it to me and I’ll say yes or no - not to criticize, but to save people wasting their time.
“The other one was somebody who wanted to do a mini-comic, but didn’t actually make books, just folded photocopies up six or seven times and crammed them in. The good thing was, this was someone who’d never done mini-comics, so it was a chance for me to tell them how it’s done. They didn’t make any money, but they were introduced to the world of do-it-yourself. Ultimately, that’s what it’s all about.” :
The Distroboto’s second anniversary is at la Sala Rossa (with les Abdigradationistes, Crackpot, American Devices, Dante’s Flaming Uterus, Lisa Gamble, Alexis O’Hara and Corey Frost, $6) and at Casa del Popolo (with 1-Speed Bike and DJs Koz and Brian Damage, free), both on Friday, Jan. 24, 9pm
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