The inspiration for Art-o-mat came to Whittington while observing a friend who had a Pavlovian reaction to the crinkle of cellophane. When Whittington's friend heard someone opening a snack, he had the uncontrollable urge to have one too.
After moving to Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Whittington was set to have a solo art show at a local cafe, Penny Universitie (now Di Lisio's Italian Restaurant). This is when Whittington used a recently banned cigarette machine to create the first Artomat. The show opened in June 1997 and the original machine was installed along with 12 of his assemblage paintings. The machine sold Whittington's black & white photographs for $1.00 each.
This art show was scheduled to be dismantled in July 1997; however, Cynthia Giles (owner of the Penny Universitie) loved the machine and asked that it stay permanently. Clark felt that the machine would create a conflict in the space unless it was open to artists in the community. Giles then introduced Whittington to a handful of other local artists, and Artists in Cellophane was formed. As of July 2018, there were over 100 machines around the world and over 400 artists involved. Six of the machines are featured at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas.
- "INSERT MONEY, RETRIEVE ART, ART-O-MAT MACHINES OFFER MINIATURE PAINTINGS, SCULPTURE". Charlotte Observer. March 5, 2003. Retrieved 2009-03-03.
- Clark, Kathy (March 2, 2006). "DISPENSABLE ART". Greensboro News and Record. Retrieved 2009-03-03.
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- Freund, Charles Paul (June 2003). "The pull of culture - Artifact - Clark Whittington's Artomat - Brief Article". Reason. Retrieved 2009-03-03.
- "Art-O-Mat Aims For Collectors". CBS News. February 25, 2003. Retrieved 2009-02-28.
- "About | Art-o-mat®". www.artomat.org. Retrieved 2017-11-02.
- Roberts, Frank (July 20, 2008). "This vending machine artwork is really smokin'". Virginian-Pilot. Retrieved 2009-03-03.
- "Cigarette vending machine now dispenses tiny works of art". CBC News. 2018-07-24. Retrieved 2018-07-26.
Myka Burke, who founded Artspace613, told CBC Radio's Ottawa Morning there are more than 400 artists who contribute works for more than 100 Art-o-mats around the world.
- Elder, Robert K. (2003-03-05). "It's Art! ; It's Cheap! It's . . .; At five bucks a pop, anyone can be a patron of the arts". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2009-03-03.
- Frostick, Dana. "artspacegallery.org". www.artspacegallery.org. Retrieved 28 June 2018.
- Peterson, Kristen (2010-12-16). "Cosmo's Art-O-Mat machines offer up $5 works of art". Las Vegas Sun. Retrieved 2017-11-02.
- Art-o-mat — official website