ArtId Art Blog
SIGNED, SEALED AND DELIVERED Shipping Tips for Artists
As an artist, you have probably dreamed of the day when your work will be known across the country, even across the world. Now, as your career expands geographically, you will need to learn more about proper packaging and shipping of artwork. The following are a few tips on the best ways to prepare your work for shipping, and some suggestions for vendors of the supplies you will need.
* When unframed graphic work is shipped, be sure to mark it clearly. Works on paper could be mistaken for packing materials and discarded.
* Mark the exterior of the box, "Fine Art," "Fragile," "Handle with Care," or "Glass."
* Mark clearly on the inside of the box the name of the gallery and the particular show at which your piece is being exhibited. Sometimes more than one show is occurring, or an agent is handling more than one show,and things can get confused. The date of the show can also help.
* Put a small label on the back of your artwork with the title of your piece, your name, address and phone number.
* Put instructions for return mailing (i.e., packing provided; return carrier) on the back.
* If you pack more than one piece in one carton, put them back-to-back or face-to-face with a piece of corrugated cardboard placed between. When taking them in a car a short distance or carrying them in a box, remember that screw eyes and other protruding objects on one piece may damage the other. Either remove these screws or bulging areas, or pad securely between the two items.
* Flat prints should be placed on a foam board and shrink-wrapped. Package the foam board in heavy cardboard so nothing can puncture the piece. This is also an excellent way to display your pieces at a show: you'll avoid fingerprints and torn corners.
* Shrink-wrap: Printers, art associations or framers in your area will know where you can have a piece shrink-wrapped locally for a nominal fee. If you will be doing a lot of wrapping, a shrink-wrap system can be purchased for $300-$500 (see below). It is small enough to set up on a desk. It comes with a heat blower to shrink the plastic wrap tightly around any product.
* Mailing Tubes: You can roll prints, watercolors, and even some oil and acrylic paintings into tubes purchased at art supply stores. They are made of heavy cardboard, plastic, or, in some cases, metal, an excellent shipping method. Ten watercolors wrapped together can arrive undamaged in this manner.
Materials for Packaging & Crating:
The following company carries a variety of packaging supplies available by mail. Call them for a free brochure.
Whenever you ship a piece, consider:
- Timing. Start early so you don't have to pay an overnight rate.
- Rates. Compare carriers.
- Insurance. Be aware of what coverage you already have.
- Weight. Learn restrictions.
- Size. Learn restrictions.
- Extras. Does the shipper also package or pick-up?
* Will you be driving a van, a car, shipping via a courier? Whichever way you transport your artwork, do it securely. You'll have many opportunities to ruin frames, break glass or cut yourself.
* If you can, place paintings upright (instead of stacking them on top of each other). If you must stack the paintings on top of each other, you need to separate them with something that will not damage them. Thismaterial must be as large as the largest painting it is touching and stiff enough to support it. Stack the largest piece on the bottom and work towards the smallest.
* If one or two small paintings are shipped along with large works, it is important to put the larger works in first and cushion them along the sides with strips of cardboard. Smaller works should be laid next to one another and stacked evenly. It may be necessary to provide compartments for small pictures.
* When transporting glass by car, you will need blankets for protection. Take the time to do this. Wouldn't you hate to ruin a painting because some glass has broken and torn the paper or canvas?
* Plan the arrival of your artwork about two weeks before any deadline or show. In case problems arise, there will be time to take care of the repair or search for a lost package.
* Don't expect to get compensation for damage to your work from a gallery because of their poor packaging. They will never take the blame! You have to hope for the best.
* Start saving packing materials from direct mail orders that you receive. Recycle!