Local Artist Sticker Machine Makes it Fun and Easy to Collect Local Art 

There’s a nearly universal childhood experience of being dragged along for mundane adult errands, struggling to keep your hands to yourself in the grocery store cart, or counting the minute hand at the laundromat. Just when your kid brain is about to explode from boredom, you spot a vending machine hidden in the corner. No, it’s not filled with sugar-laden sodas (Mom would just say “no” anyway), it’s a sticker machine offering a reprieve from this task-filled purgatory with the promise of mystery and excitement. Just a quarter away lies a shiny new toy, and once you get your sticky fingers on it, this day of tear-jerking monotony will all be worth it. That is, until your adolescent attention span moves on to something newer and shiner and the sticker becomes another forgotten piece of junk in the toy box. 

Of course, sticker machines were wasted on us as kids. Adults on the other hand, given the opportunity, we’ll collect and cherish those invaluable little pieces of art and revel in the nostalgic joy they bring us. One such grown-up who hasn’t forgotten the magic of vending machines is Natalie Allsup-Edwards, artist and owner and operator of Local Artist Sticker Machine in Salt Lake City.

Many Faces Collage Set by Bri Garwoski, brigawkoski.format.com, @brigawkosk

“I grew up around my parent’s toy store, and they instilled this concept of creative entrepreneurship in me,” says Natalie. Recalling a childlike fascination with sticker machines at her local gas station, she decided to experiment with an adult version filled with bite-sized art. Her first refurbished vending machine was placed in Alchemy Coffee Shop in 2015, now she maintains over 40. “It became obvious that people liked it, and it was an easy way to engage with the artistic community.” The machines are replenished monthly with a variety of new local artist’s stickers, displaying everything from iconic Salt Lake City landmarks, to traditional tattoo designs, to cats with various  whimsical headwear. You’ll stumble across her glitter-adorned machines in coffee shops, bars and art galleries—some of her favorites are located at Quarters, Urban Arts Gallery and Sunset Coffee.

As a medium, stickers serve as an inexpensive and approachable avenue for art collection. By incorporating the concept of random selection, Natalie has created a dedicated community of sticker collectors who visit machines month after month to see what piece of local art fate will deal them next. For Salt Lake artists, getting showcased in a Local Artist Sticker Machine is a substantial exposure opportunity, as Natalie includes websites and artist info above their sticker slot on every machine. To date, Local Sticker Machine has featured 150 individual artists and Natalie expects that number to grow as she adds more and more vending machines to her troupe. 

Apart from stickers, Natalie is experimenting with vending other custom trinkets, like postcards, fortunes and poems. “Vending is just fun, and there’s lots of room both conceptually and physically for experimental stuff,” she says. And for those who still want to participate in sticker collecting without the run-around, Natalie offers a monthly sticker subscription that includes five or 10 pieces from that month’s selection.  

You can find all Local Artist Sticker Machine locations and sign up for a monthly subscription at Natalie’s website localartiststickermachine.com, and follow her on Instagram for current updates @localartiststickermachine  

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Avrey Evans
Avrey Evanshttps://www.saltlakemagazine.com/
Avrey Evans is the Digital and the Nightlife Editor of Salt Lake Magazine. She has been writing for city publications for six years and enjoys covering the faces and places of our salty city, especially when a boozy libation is concerned.

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