how to see…

In a recent interview about his new novel The Same River Twice, author Ted Mooney described learning “how to look, and how to teach people to look”:

If you stand in front of an artwork of even medium value, you really have to spend some time cleaning your mind of words utterly, and just begin to look, and keep yourself as blank as possible, for as long as possible, and you’ll begin to see the relations of things, how they fit or don’t, and eventually you’ll be able to see the object whole, and then you can start letting words come in again, and they will be the right words. If you do the same thing on a street corner it works too, by the way.

How does this apply to working with your customers? or the projects-goals you track against?

Does everything fit or align to the direction you want to head in? Where should you edit?

Business Model: New Uses For Old Things, Seed Bombs

Seed Bombs, Distributed through old gumball machines. Brilliant!

Candy machines repurposed to vend garden seeds. Who thinks of these things?? Brilliant!

Los Angeles-based Common Studio, Greenaid, has coined the term “guerrilla gardening” and is targeting many forgotten grey spaces of the urban world, including sidewalk cracks, vacant lots and parking medians. Toward that end, it has reclaimed a series of old, quarter-operated candy machines and converted them instead for use selling seed bombs—mixtures of clay, compost and seeds that can be thrown anonymously into derelict urban sites to (temporarily) reclaim and transform them.

Sort of like humans finding a way to take on the role of ancient Bison, I suppose – with less fuss and mess.

Greenaid invites business owners, educators and concerned citizens to purchase a machine—pricing is about USD 400 each, with potential income generation of between USD 1,000 and USD 2,000 per year. Greenaid will then develop a seed mix and a strategic neighborhood intervention plan in response to the unique ecologies of the particular area. The purchaser can then simply place the machine at a local bar, business, school, park or wherever it seems likely to have the greatest impact. Greenaid supplies all the seed bombs needed to support the ongoing success of the initiative.

Common Studio explains: “Greenaid is equally an interactive public awareness campaign, a lucrative fundraising tool, and a beacon for small scale grass roots action that engages directly yet casually with local residents to both reveal and remedy issues of spatial inequity in their community.”

Similar in many ways to Anthropologie’s recent initiative featuring seed bombs produced by Cincinatti studio VisuaLingal, Greenaid is currently focused on its hometown of LA. One to partner with or emulate in other parts of the urban world?


Business Model: New Uses For Old Things, Art*O*Mats

The Art*O*Mat

A cool, hip new business idea, funky enough to appeal to a sophisticated crowd, yet marketable enough to eventually also convince the global masses to part with their dollars, yens and euros. So what’s it all about? Art*o*mats!

Art*o*mats are retired cigarette vending machines that have been converted to vend art. Currently, there are 49 active machines in museums and various locations throughout the US. The experience of using the stylish machines is quite a thrill, but you also walk away with an original work of art.

Approximately 300 contributing artists from 10 different countries are currently involved in the Art*o*mat project. Work from participating artists has to be the exact size and shape of a pack of cigarettes, and is sold for five dollars or less to everyday consumers.

Think painted blocks of wood, stained glass, poem decks or clay sculptures. On each art package within the Art*o*mat the artists have the option to include information about themselves: if buyers like the artwork, they can e-mail or call the actual artist to request more art. The economics? The artists get 50% of the revenues, USD 1.50 goes to the company/venue hosting the machine, and the rest goes to Art*o*mats.


A no-brainer if you’re a budding artist, if you work in a museum, or run a gallery, shop, restaurant, bar. Get exposure or turn your customers into ardent art-buyers. Art*o*mat is still very US-centric, but would obviously do as well in Sydney and Seoul as it does in New York and LA. A global roll-out would truly bring art to the masses: give it a shot by contacting Art*o*mat at

Want to be an Artomat artist?
There are around 400 contributing artists from 10 different countries currently involved in the Art*o*mat project. We are always searching for fresh work. [ submission process ]

Business Models: SoupCycles

Related to other posts on interesting business models, here is a unique “spin.”

SoupCycle, unique busines model supporting local businesses
SoupCycle, unique model supporting other local businesses

Bicycles have been used to deliver a variety of products–from groceries, farm produce and laundry. Now? Organic soup, made from locally grown produce and delivered each week to subscribers. Three soups are typically on the menu in any given week at SoupCycle. Consumers who live or work in the Portland, Ore., company’s delivery area begin by checking out the selections for the following week and placing their order by midnight on Friday; rustic bread, salad and dressing are also available.

With a list of subscribers in hand, SoupCycle then buys the necessary produce from local farmers. Their schedule looks something like this:

  • Monday: Cook Soup
  • Tuesdays: Begin deliveries

Pricing: USD

  • $18 for a quart of soup plus bread and salad, serves 1-2
  • $45 for quantities that can serve six
  • A la carte options too
  • $3 delivery charge applies for orders under USD 18; otherwise, delivery is free.

Loaves and … soup containers

Each of SoupCycle’s trailers can carry some 40 soup containers, 40 bread loaves and 20 salads at once, it says. Since SoupCycle first launched about a year and a half ago, it has delivered more than 10,000 orders of soup, spent USD 33,000 with local farmers and saved 3,000 gas-powered miles by using bicycles instead. Some 150 subscribers now enjoy its weekly deliveries. One to emulate locally for some piping-hot profits of your own…?😉