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How Artists can Ship Their Art on a Tight Budget

Congratulations! You just made a sale to a collector in Sydney!

When you receive the notification that the sale has gone through you try to hide the massive grin that has spread across your face, you turn to the person closest to you and nonchalantly tell them that you’ve just “sold an original artwork to Australia” like it’s no big deal.

You’re just about to start celebrating when you remember that you need to have the artwork packed to perfection in the next week in order to fulfill the artist requirements for your online gallery.

That’s your plans for your weekend canceled! Now you have to buy up to nine different materials, never mind spending all day trying to source them in various shops, waste hours of your life attempting to wrap the art perfectly to the specified guidelines without ripping your hair out! AND in the end, it never looks quite as neat as in the videos.

Then on to organizing the courier and having to listen to irritating music for half an hour as you are put on hold!

Finally, the insurance “what do you mean you don’t insure glazed works?”, “I’ve already packed it to perfection I don’t need a fine art handler to do the same job!” and we all know how fun that phone call can be…

All joking aside, shipping art is a serious business. You want your work to arrive safely, in perfect condition and professionally presented. A lot of different things all need to line up without fail: packing, shipping, and insurance, so let’s look at each of these.

PACKING:

There are three main sources of damage to artwork in transit:

  • Impact damage: the artwork falling, or something else falling on it. This can result in dents, crushing damage, broken glass and cracked frames.
  • Abrasive damage: the artwork rubs against something else. This can result in scratches, abrasions, paint missing and torn canvases.
  • Environmental damage: sunlight, water, heat etc. Environmental damage can be the hardest to repair but can be the easiest to protect against.

A typical fine art packing solution is to wrap the artwork in sealed polythene, which protects against environmental damage, then to place it in a foam-lined wooden crate, protecting it from bumps and scratches. And that’s fine. But it can be expensive. So how do you provide a reasonable amount of protection on a budget?

A strong cardboard box (at least double wall) or a plywood crate is a good start, although plywood gets very heavy at any real size. Foam lining is essential, and there are a lot of options, too many to address here. Suffice to say you should be using an inert, medium density foam with a reasonably fine grade. If you can squeeze the foam between finger and thumb, but not too easily, you’re on the right track. And finally, you should wrap the work in polythene inside the box. If the artwork is glazed you should use glass tape on the surface of the glass to minimize damage in the event of a breakage.

SHIPPING OPTIONS:

If you’re not using a fine art company then the choice is between the post office or courier company (DHL, FedEx, etc.). In theory, these can be very cost effective, but many couriers won’t insure artwork in transit. The postal service is usually cheaper again, but of course, you’ll have to take the (potentially quite large) package to the post office.

INSURANCE:

If the transporter won’t insure, the insurance will have to be provided by an independent insurer. In many cases, these insurers will have draconian conditions attached, likely starting with “must be packed by professional art handlers”. It is possible to get insurance in place for artworks in transit, but prepare to jump through some hoops.

THE BOTTOM LINE:

Sending artwork internationally on a budget is certainly possible, but can take a lot of time and resources, which may be better deployed elsewhere. However, if you pack carefully there is no reason your artwork should not arrive in good condition.

ART BOX WORLDWIDE:

Art Box Worldwide is a safe and secure service designed to transport flat works of art, prints and photographs from studio or gallery to any destination in the world. Art Box is designed to withstand the rigors of international transport and to keep your art safe. Triple wall card, polythene wrap, and polyethylene foam tamper-evident seals all combine to ensure the artwork’s safety. Art Box originates from a fine art handling background and is the result of our innovation and expertise. We provide box, transport, and insurance, thus making the process of shipping simple and streamlined. Art Box can be ordered online or via email.

For further information see www.artboxworldwide.com   You can follow Art Box on Instagram and on Twitter @ArtBoxWorldwide or find them on Facebook.

 

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