This morning I went downtown to Unglued for cupcakes and stickers.
Yep. Stickers. From an old school machine, the kind where you put a couple of quarters into an slot and see what you get. I haven’t done that since I was about 10 years old and used to go to the Pizza Hut on Highway 10 in Moorhead, but you know what? It was still a rush. And I got to support local artists while I was at it.
Albino Buffalo collaborates with local artists to produce series of collectible, limited edition stickers. I warn you, it’s just as addictive as you remember. I went in planning to buy one and walked out with three. And I wasn’t the only one. There were about a dozen of us noisily digging through our change and carrying stacks of stickers!
It’s really a sweet deal. For just a couple cents, you can own a unique piece from a regional artist. I love the element of chance and how down-to-earth and democratic it makes art feel. And what a perfect way to introduce kids or art newbies to the local art scene!
Right now you can only find a machine at Unglued, but there’s one coming to Bemidji soon and there are talks to add new locations as well. Keep an eye on Albino Buffalo on Facebook for more details.
I caught up with Jeff Knight, the owner and designer of Albino Buffalo to ask him about how he started the project. Keep reading for his answers and to see what stickers I got!
What’s the best thing about this project?
“It’s really fun to show off work from artists in this area. There are so many talented individuals and while not everyone can afford the larger, more expensive works, I think there is room were the community can still build these artists up and enjoy their work in a fun and accessible way.
This is also a personally fulfilling project for me. There’s something about vending machines that is therapeutic to me. I haven’t figured out what it is exactly, but it has something to do with the instant gratification and mechanical nature of getting random objects. I’ve loved that idea since I was a child and would collect candy and toys out of these kind of machines.”
What’s the most common question you get about the project?
“‘Where did you get the machines?’ I actually bought them from an online auction site a year and a half ago for super cheap. Some friends of mine stripped them down and made them look good.”
What do you wish more people knew about Albino Buffalo?
“That it’s a lot of work! It’s pretty straight-forward and simple, but there is a lot of time put into each series. From collecting the artwork to packaging each sleeve to all the design work in promotional materials. I enlisted the help of a couple students this year to help out and get a good idea of the kind of work that goes into a project like this.”
How long does it normally take for a sticker series to sell out?
“Usually about a month and a half to two months, so be sure to stock up early, there might not be many left if you wait too long!”
Aren’t these fun? The dreamy bison is by McCal Joy and the other two are by my buddy Raul Gerard Gomez, publisher and co-owner of the High Plains Reader, co-owner of the Luchadores Taqueria food truck and the brilliant mind who made the Prairie Style File logo a reality.
I totally want more. Dennis Krull from 5foot20 Design Lounge did a series of robot stickers that I can’t get out of my head. I’d forgotten how addictive this is! And just for fun, there are golden tickets randomly inserted into the machines that you can redeem for prizes. You totally want to buy some now, right?
If you score some Albino Buffalo stickers, show me what you got! Maybe we can trade and collect them all. Wouldn’t that just be a blast from the past?
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I’m able to introduce you to cool people from across the great state of North Dakota thanks in part to a grant from the folks at North Dakota Tourism.