The Art Of Shipping Art! by Natasha Estevez
Most artwork can be rather delicate. After all, it exists to be looked at, not to be durable! However, there comes a time when art must be shipped, sometimes at quite a distance. In the process of transit, artwork can become damaged in a number of ways, depending on the medium of work. Charcoal works can be smudged, paper machete figures can be squashed, and delicate ceramics can be shattered to smithereens at the flick of the wrist without the correct artwork handling protocol. To put it frankly, artwork may very well be one of the most difficult items to ship without resulting in damage. The process of safely transporting artwork can even be thought of as art form in it of itself, as a matter of fact! In my experience of storing, packing and shipping artwork to be graded by judges whom were located out of state, I learned to understand many of the procedures that must be followed before and during the shipment process. Those who must ship pieces artwork for whatever reason may go through with the following to ensure that prints, paintings, illustrations sculptures and more make it to the other side in once piece.
First, there must be proper identification of the medium. What exactly is the art made of? If it a painting or illustration, what kind of material was the image produced on? Oil paintings applied to plywood versus ones made on cardboard will likely have to be approached by the handler in different ways to ensure their safe transport. Furthermore, canvas works may sometimes need to be shipped while still attached to the wooden frame, while in other cases rolled up and placed within a protective tube depending on what kind of materials are used to make the illustration itself, or how bulky the work is when on frame. An understanding of the structural integrity of three-dimensional works must also be understood to know what kind of packaging a sculpture or piece of pottery must be placed in for shipping. One must have the correct use of packing materials to transport 3D works, especially for the most delicate of pieces.
Next, there must also be an extra layer of precaution taken for works that may become damaged simply on light contact. Illustrations made with materials that never fully settle, like oil pastels, must be packaged and then handled in a way that no hands or surfaces come in contact with the side of the work where the image is located. Antiques must also be handled with extra care, especially those that are in the process of being cleaned and/or restored. Works like these may sometimes require the wearing of gloves to handle. When it comes time for the movement of the artwork itself, extra steps must be followed in the movement of especially large, heavy or fragile works. Heavy works, often sculptures and statues made of stone or brass, usually need certain kinds of shipping equipment such as a loop handle or even a pallet jack to lift up and move around. When placed within an automobile, it is also not uncommon for items to be fastened down with ratchet straps in order to prevent the shifting or bumping around of items in cargo. Tall works that can fall over or fragile works may need extra fastening to prevent mishaps along the transport process. All in all, those who must handle artwork in the shipping process must balance safety and efficiency along the way. As such, moving art can be tough work! It’s thanks to professionalism from companies like Ship Smart that the process can be made far more streamlined for collectors or artists like myself.