Vending Machines Sell Community Art


Taylor Isaac, Student Reporter

Artists in Huntington can now use vending machines to connect their pieces with patrons thanks to an initiative launched by a former Marshall University student. 

Zane Pinson graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Marshall University in 2021. As a member of the artist group “Bible Camp,” he encountered unexpected challenges when he tried to share his creative pieces with the community.

“I realized that connecting with the art community is so inaccessible in our area,” Pinson said. “There’s a stigma that art has to be expensive and hard to obtain, which makes it difficult for people who want to share their passion. I wanted to create something that made it easier for Huntington to find these artists all year round.”

Pinson’s new mission became solving the disconnect between artists and lovers of art. As a test, he purchased a single capsule vending machine and began distributing art through it. 

“The first machine went up in November 2020,” Pinson said. “Once I realized this was something I could do and succeed with, it was just a matter of finding more artists, buying more machines and talking to more venues. That was when Jewels in the City was born.” 

Today six art vending machines have found their home in local businesses including Cicada Books, Ink’d Revolution, The Inner Geek, The Potted Edge, The Red Caboose and The Wild Ramp.

While each machine varies in what mediums of art it distributes, the entire project encompasses ceramics, paintings, textile work, jewelry, sculptures, stickers and more.

Jewels in the City also attends local events, festivals and conventions to raise awareness towards their artist initiative. Herdcon Director Michelle Alford has worked closely with Pinson to continue networking artists with the program.

“The vending machine was featured as an exhibit during our 2022 convention to share the awesome work our students can put out,” Alford said. “We hope to keep the ball rolling and make Jewels in the City a regular part of our convention.”

Keeping art affordable, Pinson says that all pieces are sold for no more than a dollar. As a non-profit organization, the proceeds obtained from the machines pay only for their upkeep. 

“Supporting the creative community of Huntington costs a handful of quarters,” Pinson said. “It may not seem like a big deal when you first purchase, but this is how we artists can continue sharing our artwork with the area.”