WHY DO I NEED AN ART SHIPPER?
A unique collection deserves the attention and knowledge of expert art handlers. For example, how do you pack a painting for shipping? Or ship a large sculpture? And what’s the best way to ship art on canvas? Art transportation is more complicated than you might think, and these are just a few questions that frequently occur to those who need art transportation. As experienced collectors know, it’s not like you can just wrap it, drop it with FedEx or UPS and voila! – there are a few important rules to keep in mind when it comes to art shipping. This article explains some of these rules and provides useful tips for hiring art shippers.
Potential damage to your artwork can occur in many ways: a clumsy tear when taking the piece off the wall, using the wrong packing supplies when soft packing a canvas, or just not having enough man power to assist with such task. We know what you’re thinking, let’s have a general mover transport the art. Unfortunately moving companies often times lack the skills, tools and training required to safely pack and transport your art. Keeping your valuable objects safe can get expensive, so it’s best to hire a professional art shipping company to avoid possible damage during transit.
In an interview with artnet News, fine art specialist Laura Doyle of Chubb Insurance recalled an instance when ordinary movers handled a 9th-century Indian sculpture of a Hindu god.
“It was an elephant and they ended up picking it up by the trunk – which would have been the weakest point of the piece. The trunk broke off the face and they actually threw it away. So we couldn’t even try to have the piece restored.”https://news.artnet.com/market/art-shipping-nightmares-367325
As an art enthusiast or collector, each piece of art is the product of the unique work of a talented individual. And the value of art goes beyond its material value: there is a cultural importance to consider as well. That’s why the majority of institutions and collectors hire experts for transporting, packing and installing art. Below we discuss the importance of hiring professional art companies.
1. packing methods for every art medium
Oil paintings require different packing supplies than prints, and delicate three dimensional objects need custom casing as opposed to a general piece of furniture. Simple packing materials like a box and bubble wrap are not always the right solution to packing art safely. Knowledgable art handlers have the expertise and packing supplies at their disposal to create a proper slipcase, shadowbox or a crate. Art handling essentials include gloves, glassine (acid-free) paper, foam pads, corrugated cardboard sheets, bubble wrap, poly plastic and tape. Whether you’re moving an oil on canvas down the block or shipping a thousand-pound sculpture across the ocean, it’s best to consult a fine art shipper.
2. Art staging & installation techniques
Planning for art shipping is just as important as planning for it’s arrival. But how do you plan for installation and staging of your precious object? Consider the following, understand the layout of your space and consider how each artwork will impact the look, feel and design of your space. Ensure there’s sufficient space to unpack and carefully stage your object prior to installation. Be careful unpacking and try not to accidentally dispose of items that belong to the original object.
Keep in mind that an installation can be in various forms. In fact, art installation is an art in itself. And an expert art handler should be able to advice the center point of an artwork, proper height for installation within your space, the use of supplies like hooks, anchors, z-clips or french cleats and condition of the wall to which you’d like to install your work of art.
3. Installation techniques are acquired over time
There are no two identical walls – especially in the City of New York. Is it a drywall, concrete, or plaster? Is the wall reinforced with plywood? How much weight can the it handle? Can the surface tempered with? These are just some of the questions you don’t want anyone assuming the answers to.
Experienced art installers ask these questions in advance and just as a precautionary measure, great art handlers will always have the right equipment on hand, even if new information is discovered on the job. Installation techniques vary, imagine needing to install a piece of art above a stair case? What about installing frames suspended from the ceiling? Each comes with a set of challenges that a good installer will have the knowledge to successfully complete.
4. large objects aren’t easy to handle
When creating art, artists aren’t constrained by door and window sizes. Often times, large scale installations are not designed to live indoors. These oddly shaped objects shouldn’t pose a challenge when shipping however it does require a certain skillset to figure out the logistics of transporting such a work of art. Consider a massive painting – one of the shipping methods requires an art handler to take the frame apart, carefully roll the canvas with acid-free paper and into a sonotube, potentially crate it, then ship it, and finally reassemble the canvas back into it’s original frame. This is just one of many art shipping methods used on daily basis by a qualified art handling company.
5. working with an art handler
As mentioned, installing or staging artwork goes far beyond the simple task of hanging pictures on the wall. You can have a thoroughly selected art collection, but it won’t look appealing if not displayed properly. Most gallerists and art curators already know how to arrange each piece inside a space. But an experienced art handler will be able to offer ideas when a client needs assistance. An art handler has the skillset to fix any unforeseen technical issue, like adjusting D-rings on a frame or being prepared to install a piece of art above a staircase. Curators combine visual and aesthetic design of a space and carefully work with the art handlers to realize their creative vision.
how to find an art logistics company?
It’s important to vet your shipper. Be sure to ask the right questions. For example, what techniques are used when packing sensitive art? How will they ship the artwork? Can they fabricate a custom solid wood crate? Do they offer insurance and how does it work? If they stumble answering your question, move on to the next. Make sure your prospective shipping partner has plenty of positive references, experience and don’t forget to look up their profile online like you would look up a restaurant reservation for dinner.
Some things to look out for when choosing a Fine Art Shipper are:
- Online reputation
- Instagram content (is it in line with art shipping or installation services offered?)
- Climate controlled and air-ride equipped trucks
- Physical location (such as warehouse)
- Clear understanding of their proposal outlining the scope of work and any exclusions
- GPS tracking
- Knowledge of logistics
- International rules and regulations
- Customs formalities for international shipments
- Insurance rates
- Packing techniques (slip case, shadowbox, custom crate)
- Installation experience
- General knowledge of various art mediums
- Understanding of art preservation
Know that there are multiple shipping options when transporting art domestic or international. Dedicated transport services (time sensitive and without any stops) tends to be expensive since the entire truck is dedicated to your object and shuttle services, which are typically cheaper because multiple objects are consolidated the truck for an economical non time sensitive solution. General freight shipping solutions such as FedEx, UPS or DHL can be used when the artwork is carefully packed in a solid wood crate.
Still not sure if you should hire an art shipping company? Reach out to us here and we’ll answer any questions you may have.