Speaking with Seth Mooney of Pawn Works

An avid fan of both stickers and urban art, I love what Pawn Works has been up to: the design and installation of vending machines that makes the best of urban art available in sticker format.  I recently had a chance to speak with one of its two founders, Seth Mooney, currently living in NYC. His partner, Nick Marzullo, is based in Chicago.

I love the concept of a vending machine that dispenses stickers featuring urban art. How did you guys come up with the idea?  We thought it would be a great way to showcase contemporary artists and designers and make their work easily affordable and accessible to collectors. 

You guys have an amazing roster of artists, and the stickers look fabulous.  Not only have you featured some of my favorites – folks like C215, Dain and Gaia – but you’ve introduced me to artists whose work is new to me. How do you engage artists in your project?  We’ve approached some artists and some are referred to us. Others contact us directly.  The artists have complete control over their image. 10% of the stickers we print go directly to the artist. A small portion of the stickers printed are pooled and distributed in sticker packs among the sticker club’s members, as one of our goals is to connect artists from around the globe.

Where can we find these vending machines? We plan to place them in a variety of venues, including, of course, galleries and cafes. The first NYC gallery to have our sticker machine is Brooklynite in Bed-Stuy.

Do you collect stickers yourself?   I’ve been collecting them for over 20 years, since I was 9 years old. I love stickers. They are the most portable genre of tangible art!

Do you design your own? I’ve done some but I’m far more focused on other people.

I see that your partner in Pawn Works, Nick Marzullo, is running a gallery in Chicago.  How did you guys get into that?  About 5-6 years ago, Nick started doing shows in friends’ apartments and representing their work at art fairs.  In time, it led to the establishment of a gallery that features work by emerging contemporary artists. The current exhibit REPEAT OFFENDER features work by Gabriel Specter.

Have you a formal art background? I studied photography at Columbia College in Chicago and I also work as a photographer.  But I consider myself primarily a “facilitator of the arts.” 

Sounds good! I love what you’re doing and I look forward to seeing and collecting more of Pawn Work’s stickers.

Photojournalists Lisa Kahane on the left and Martha Cooper on the right

Sticker with image by Jesse Reno, mixed-media painter living and working in Portland, OR.

Images courtesy Seth Mooney