Miami-based sculptor and illustrator Mike Rivamonte has long been sketching ideas for robot sculptures. While roaming flea markets in New York City a few years ago, where he worked at a Broadway ad agency, an album of matchbook covers caught his eye and helped him bring his inspirations to life.
He built his first series of six robots, aptly titled “American Series,” with a collection of United States matchbook covers dating from the 1920s to the 1950s. The colorful matchbooks — printed with ads depicting long-gone restaurants with 10¢ specials and orchestra-filled nightclubs — provided the iconic aesthetic he wanted for the bots. “Creating these sculptures is a wonderful experience for me and one of my greatest joys.”
The robots stand about two feet tall and call for approximately 200 covers each. Rivamonte lays out the covers like a jigsaw puzzle to achieve the look he’d like for each sculpture. While it’s time-consuming to sand the wooden pieces of the robots, apply the matchbook covers, and seal them with a UV protective varnish, the longest part of the process is simply the time it takes to collect the perfect assortment of pieces. “I like to find enough matchbook covers to create three to four robots at a time. That takes about a year or so of collecting,” says Rivamonte.