Featured image for One Man’s Trash. . . .

One Man’s Trash. . . .

by Ted Mininni on 03/25/2009 | 2 Minute Read

Editorial photograph

A recent NPR story profiled an intriguing

artist and entrepreneur named Justin Gignac. In that story, titled:

“Treasure or Trash? Artist Says It’s in the Packaging”, Gignac

puts forth a persuasive argument. While an intern at MTV, Gignac relates

that he engaged in a discussion with his fellow workers. One of them

expressed the opinion that “. . .they thought package design wasn’t

important”, according to Gignac. 

That made Gignac rise to the challenge.

“So I figured the only way to prove them wrong would be to try to

package something that absolutely nobody in their right mind would ever

want to buy.” Garbage.

That was a few years ago. Since he began,

Gignac has sold over 1000 trash cubes of--selective New York City garbage--around

the globe. Making the cubes “compositionally appealing”, Gignac

sold his cubes initially as “gag gifts” for $10 each. Now, the cubes

sell for as much as $100. Each sealed box comes signed, numbered and

tagged as “Garbage of New York City”. A small affixed sticker records

the date the trash was selected for the cube. 

The gist, according to Gignac? “People’s

perceptions have completely changed.” Translation: while some people

see nothing but trash, other people see art, especially since the cubes

cost more now.  

Besides his original venture, Gignac

and girlfriend Christine Santora create paintings of items on their

wish list—everything from pizza slices to financial security and price

them according to the value of the real thing. . .I’m not sure how

‘financial security’ is depicted, but it’s an interesting concept.

Gignac observed that sometimes people have a distorted view of what

art is really worth. Or what really constitutes garbage? Or the value

of garbage? One of his ideas, for example, is to create a 6 by 8 foot

painting of a taco and sell it for $1.99, because “that’s what a

taco costs.” 

The paintings are available at a no-frills,

fairly low tech web site: www.wantsforsale.com.  

In December, a similar site www.needsforsale.com was launched to raise money to help charities

get the equipment they need.  

All rather unorthodox, interesting ideas.

Some of these ideas might lead to new marketing perspectives, as well. 


  • What do you think of the idea
  • that packaging can make mundane, even odd items attractive?
  • Which products do you personally
  • buy because you really like the packaging?
  • Would you purchase art if
  • you really liked it, even if it was cheap? Or do you honestly think
  • your personal perception of its value would increase if the price was
  • higher?
  • What do you think marketers
  • can take away from Gignac’s ideas and methods?

Please share your thoughts below.