A artist’s studio with all the portraits taken down and ready to be packed for shipping.

Art Studio Relocation: Expert Tips

Moving a studio presents unique challenges, particularly when dealing with fragile artwork, large pieces, or complex materials. If you're facing a long-distance relocation, getting everything to your new location safely and efficiently can become even more complicated.

Preserving the integrity of your artwork is a primary concern during a studio relocation. Choosing the right packaging materials is the first step. Still, consider who will handle your art during the move and the type of transport you plan to use. Deciding what to bring to your new studio is another area where artists often need help. Some supplies and materials can be donated or left behind to make the moving process go more smoothly.

One way to avoid potential problems is to hire professionals with specific experience moving art materials across the country and overseas. Trying to do everything yourself could result in packing errors that put your pieces at risk.

Preparing for Relocation

Before you make your big move to a new location, prepare your art, collectibles, and supplies for the process. The first step to relocation prep is to conduct a full inventory of everything in your studio. A detailed inventory helps ensure everything makes it to the new location, and inventory lists are often required for insurance purposes if anything goes wrong.

As you take inventory, remove unused materials and supplies and dispose of chemicals unsafe for long-distance transport. Donate any usable art supplies to an artist friend or art student, and dispose of old chemicals, such as turpentine, according to local guidelines for hazardous waste. Movers won't transport flammable chemicals, and taking them long distances in a personal vehicle is unsafe.

Packing is the next step in your art studio move. High-quality packaging materials are a must. While you can skimp during a casual household move, you want your artwork appropriately secured in a heavy-duty box with appropriate padding during transport. Here are some general guidelines for packing different types of artwork:

Paintings and Framed Art

Wrapping framed artwork or canvas paintings in shrink wrap before putting it into a crate or box with bubble wrap or foam packing peanuts protects the surface from moisture or contact with other packaging materials. A tightly wrapped piece also resists bending or warping during the move. For extra protection of framed prints or paintings, use painter's tape placed diagonally in an X shape over the glass before wrapping the entire piece in shrink wrap.

Sculptures, Ceramics, and Pottery

When shipping sculptures, and other 3D artwork, make sure you transport them in custom crates designed to support each piece specifically. Crates with built-in padding and an interior frame to take pressure off the art help ensure safe transport.

Sketches and Prints

Acid-free plastic sleeves can serve as a buffer for loose sketches, drawings, photographs, or prints. Smaller pieces can be shipped flat in their sleeves inside a cardboard mailer or rolled for placement in a cardboard tube.

Large Artwork

Before you can pack your artwork, you may need to disassemble some items, particularly fragile or oversized pieces. Carefully remove the parts that can be separated and wrap each part of the art in bubble wrap secured with sealing tape.

Digital Art Equipment

Digital art production usually involves computer equipment and electronic tools. These items should be packed in their original boxes or sturdy cardboard boxes with appropriate padding if possible. Remove hard drives and loose media before packing, and make backup copies of important data before you shut everything down for the move. Including silica gel packs inside the box helps reduce the risk of moisture buildup on your electronic equipment.

How to Keep Art Safe During the Move: Transportation and Handling

After packing your artwork, consider how to transport it to the new location. Climate-controlled transport may be necessary to prevent damage caused by temperature extremes.

Self-transport can be inexpensive but also comes with additional challenges. Packing and moving your art yourself typically requires more time and energy than hiring professional art movers. A professional is skilled at loading and unloading art without risking damage, and they can handle larger pieces with more care than you probably can handle alone or with a few less experienced friends.

Setting Up the New Studio

Once you arrive at your destination, you need to set up your new studio. Planning can help you create the right environment for your artwork. You may need to set up the space before unpacking. Setup could involve adjusting or setting up lights, installing dehumidifiers, and planning exactly where each piece should go to allow you to move freely within the room.

Once you've set up your space, it's time to unpack. Your inventory list should be handy now since you can easily identify items in which box or crate they are packed. Save time by planning exactly where everything will go in your new studio and moving the appropriate crates or boxes to that area before unpacking.

Consider ergonomics when setting up the area where you plan to work. Comfortable desk, easel, or workspace arrangements help you return to your creative work more quickly. Organizing your supplies as you unpack ensures everything is within reach when you're ready to create.

Professional Moving Services

While small moves might be doable on your own, hiring specialized art movers can simplify a long-distance move and give you peace of mind that everything will arrive at the destination quickly and safely.

Some things to consider when hiring a professional art mover include:

  • How much experience does the company have in moving artwork, precisely the types of pieces you create?
  • What kind of insurance coverage does the moving company offer?
  • Reviews from former clients that give you an indication of their performance.

Working with professional art movers requires clear communication to keep your artwork safe. Make sure your movers know what artwork and supplies you need to move, and ask how various pieces will be packaged and transported.

Moving a Studio Internationally

If you're moving artwork overseas, you may need to consider customs regulations and handle the required paperwork beforehand. Planning way before your move helps ease your way during cross-border art transport.

Climate is Another thing to consider during an international studio move. If the local climate in your new location is significantly more or less humid than your original location, this could affect your existing artwork and impact how you need to set up your studio to handle the new conditions.

Essential Considerations for a Successful Studio Move

While moving a studio can be complicated, planning to prioritize the safety and security of your art puts you on the right track for a successful relocation. Moving to a new location can be a fresh start for your creative process. You'll be experiencing new things and getting plenty of inspiration to take your creativity into new territory.

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