Unpacking the Process: Tips on Packing and Shipping Art
Transporting art can be a tricky endeavor. Before you begin, multiple variables need to be considered to ensure your art makes a safe delivery. Consider the size, weight, dimensionality, value, fragility, potential environmental factors, distance needed to travel, and destination requirements.
Consider researching local companies that have professionals to create the packaging for you. You can package or crate your artwork at home, but many art shipping companies offer packaging services. Sometimes, it is best to leave it to the professionals. Each company will offer different and customized services which need to be taken into account.
The benefits of using art-handling companies over regular shipping companies include having trained professionals handle your art who are skilled in the art packaging process. They typically have specialized equipment geared towards handling art to ensure that your art receives the best possible care. They may cost more, but it is worth it if the art is valuable. If you decide you want to package the art at home, think about hiring an art handling company to unpack the art when it reaches its final destination. This may also be a good idea if you will not be at the final destination to unpack the art yourself. A comprehensive overview of packing considerations can be found here: www.gyst-ink.com/shipping-crating/
During the actual transit process, you relinquish control over your art. You cannot monitor the safety of your package during the entire process, but you can take some steps to minimize risks. This is the part where you ask yourself whether it is worth insuring your art. If you value the art, then the answer is yes. Anything can go wrong in the shipping process, from an art handler accidentally dropping the art on the ground, to a sharp object slicing through the box during transit. Some companies like Craters & Freighters offer different types of insurance coverage for shipping art that covers damage and if the art is lost in transit. It is worth investigating the company to see if they already come with insurance, or if insurance is available to purchase from the shipping company.
Know what type of packaging is best for 2D art versus 3D art. There are multiple methods and different types of material that can be used in the packaging and shipping process. Rolling up art, using a cardboard box or using a wooden crate are among the most popular.
It’s important not to place bubble wrap or plastic directly on the surface of paintings. Instead, wrap the art pieces in glassine paper or Tyvek, and then package them in bubble wrap or padding. Plastic and bubble wrap can sometimes damage or leave imprints on painting surfaces. This same recommendation applies for rolled paintings. Use a sheet of glassine or Tyvek beneath before rolling.
Cardboard Box: The most typical method is shipping framed art in a cardboard box. Some standard materials needed to properly package a framed piece of art in a cardboard box are acid free tape, a triple corrugated box, loose fill, bubble wrap, plywood, scissors, and shipping labels. Although very cheap and often free, a cardboard box is not the most study or protective package for shipping art. For details on how to safely package art in a cardboard box, visit this link: theabundantartist.com/how-to-package-art-for-shipping/
Wooden Crates: Wooden crates are a custom-made, temporary home for your art. This method is usually the safest and most reliable option when considering different packaging possibilities. Compared to a cardboard box, a wooden crate is sturdier and can better protect the art from being dented or punctured. A cardboard box might be a more accessible material, but consider taking the extra step to locate a wooden crate or plywood. The crate should be designed and created to protect the art from a variety of outside factors while in transit, including water, weather, dirt, and any sudden bumps or high-impact shocks. Damage to the art can be avoided by using shock-absorbent packing materials that surround the art inside of the crate. The art inside should be fixed into place using packing material that creates a protective barrier for the art. Plan ahead to make sure that the dimensions of the packaging will fit in the transportation vehicle, boat, or plane. For more information on crate shipping, visit this link: www.gyst-ink.com/shipping-crating/
Rolling up: If you are rolling up a canvas that has been taken off the stretchers, there are some risks for damage when removing and then re-stretching the canvas. But if you decide this method is most suitable for your art packaging needs, it is best to roll the drawing or painting with the paint or drawing facing the outside. Roll up the canvas loosely so it does not get squished in the tube. Put a sheet of plastic or a protective layer around the rolled-up art before putting it in the tube to ensure that the art does not smudge against the inside of the tube. For a complete guide, visit these links:
Here is a list of a few art shipping companies:
- Craters & Freighters: located in D.C and Nashville, TN; ships both nationally and internationally.
- Bonsai Fine Arts: located in Maryland and New York; only ships to the east coast.
- Artex: located in D.C., NY, FL, CA, and MA; ships regionally and nationally.
- US Art: located in Boston; ships nationally and globally.
- Ely: located in Maryland; ships both nationally and internationally.
- Terry Dowd, Inc.: located in Chicago and Denver; ships locally, regionally, and nationally.
- Artemis Fine Art Services: located in Texas; ships locally, regionally, and nationally.
- Displays Fine Art Services:: located in Texas and New Mexico; ships locally and nationally.
- Handle With Care Packaging Store: located in Ohio; ships nationally and internationally.
- Atelier Art Services: located in Philadelphia; mostly ships to the Eastern States
For more companies available in the United States: www.artbusinessinfo.com/usa-art-movers--couriers.html