Stocking a Tasty Art Candy Machine
Written by Genie Davis
Candy is dandy, but The Art Candy Machine, conceived by artist and curator Stefanie Girard, is even sweeter. Born of a combination of inspirations, Girard says “I saw an episode of Conan in Japan where he showed a whole street of vending machines that had virtually everything available for sale, including boxes of cookies wrapped in poetry…a vending machine could be adapted to sell anything.” While noting that she isn’t the only one with this sweet art vending idea, she describes conceiving her own machine as a “safe way for artists to sell art outside, and for shoppers to enjoy a fun experience while socially distancing.”
Currently, the machine has 20 spots for art in four different sizes, from playing card to post-it size, from note card to post card size. All the work is original and ranges from oil, acrylic, and watercolor paintings to photography, mixed media, and jewelry, Girard says. She has some of her own artwork in the machine, too. “I did acrylic paintings on recycled vintage floppy disks along with some collage mixed-media pieces. I used the opportunity to experiment with working tiny.”
Both local and distance artists have contributed, with some creating multiple collections on a variety of surfaces and mediums, she says. “So far there have been 20 artists featured and new ones all the time. Since the art sells out, I can feature new art as it is submitted.”
Art turn around speeds vary among participants. “Some artists are instantly like ‘I’m in!’ and have a fast process and can make 12 pieces of art easily. Some need to think a bit about how to create 12 small works. They all think of it as a fun challenge and really get into it – even more when their art sells out.”
According to Girard, “Not only do they get to sell their work in the Art Candy Machine, I feature it across social media, and we have sold quite a few from these posts. As a former social media marketer, I am helping some artists get their own social media more active and diverse.” That assistance has helped motivate artist participation, she says.
As to art patrons, she says “Visitors to the machine are captivated by the concept and get hooked. They often come by as new art is always featured. One art patron described it as ‘the Claw for dummies.’ Two artists made packaging that was opaque, so what you purchased was a surprise.”
Located in her driveway in Burbank, the Art Candy Machine is popular, Girard explains. “I have both ‘regulars,’ that make it a daily/weekly destination…and newcomers that think it’s cool and come back prepared with their cash.” The machine takes $1 and $5 denominations. Each piece is $5; 100% of the proceeds go to the artist. To date, 275 pieces have sold.
Her home-based location is a good one, she reports. “I live in a fun neighborhood, on the corner of Oak and Fairview, where there are lots of people that walk their dogs and take their kids out for strolls. They’ve told me how much they love the gallery and the Art Candy Machine.” She adds “I want artists to know how much fun it is to make mini pieces of their work and to have it featured in a mini gallery and sell it.” As to collectors, she calls the machine “a great destination where they can safely buy and instantly build a collection of original art — and make an artist’s day while doing it.”
Girard says her own work is informed by the power of words and quotes, and describes her art as combining words, fonts, images and materials in “the most ironic and unexpected ways possible to create something that is both aesthetically pleasing and meaningful.” She’s also created large modular mixed media installations. “The best compliment I can receive is for the viewer to have a laugh- out-loud or ‘ah-ha’ moment of getting the joke or juxtaposition.”
After the pandemic shutdown, she began her other current project, the Burbank Neighborhood Gallery, launching the Art Candy Machine shortly thereafter. The gallery is comprised of outdoor space. “I have a fence that I put empty plastic pockets on saying ‘Your Art Here.’ It filled up to feature over 100 pieces of art, and several pieces have sold. I really believed both artists and art collectors needed it. I also figured we are in this for 18 months, and I needed something to do during this time.”
She calls both The Art Candy Machine and Burbank Neighborhood Gallery ‘real transitions’ in her art creation. As a producer for how-to shows on HGTV and DIY, Girard has also served as Programs Chair of both the Burbank Art Association and Glendale Art Association. “Booking guests for Art Associations is very similar to booking guests for TV shows,” she laughs. She began her career as a set decorator, and she’s also written craft books such as Sweater Surgery; Girard is also the Recycled Editor at CraftGossip.com. Her first foray into neighborhood experiences was creating a Little Free Library out of recycled materials. All of her experience has led her here, she relates, to the tasty Art Candy Machine. Along with participating in-person, viewers can visit her popular blog, The Art Candy Machine for a look at some very delicious, if diminutive, art.