Shipping Fine Art Prints to Clients
I thought I would reach out and see how you all ship 11x14 and 16x20 fine art prints to clients? I would like to figure out a solution for shipping mounted with a Mat and a plastic bag covering (but not framed) prints safely and economically to clients. Thanks in advance for your insights!
The very safest way to package unmounted artwork is in wrapped in archival paper in an oversized tube mailer with foam rolled up in the centre and stiff card around the outside. For mounted, I would recommend using an oversized flat cardboard mailer with the print sandwiched within an archival bag and between two layers of hardboard. Regarding shippers, there tends to be either cheap to moderately expensive but not very safe or very expensive but safe with nothing in between. I'm not sure where you are but most parcel firms and the Royal Mail here in the UK pay no attention to fragile or do not bend labels. That is the reason I suggest oversize mailers as the edges tend to get damaged most and hardboard helps protect from punctures in the centre. The safest way to ship if the prints are high value is to use one of the specialist couriers for artworks and antiques though the service prices tend to be quite high.
" ... a cook who relies on nothing but a sharp knife has no guarantee of producing excellent dishes." - Yoshihisa Maitani
I wouldn't recommend rolling up fiber based prints unmounted or otherwise! And if we're talking fine art prints, fiber is what we're talking about, by my reckoning.
Originally Posted by onepuff
But here is how I do singles, most inexpensively up to 16X20 (24X30 matted). I only ship matted fiber prints. Too bad if they want them unmatted – I sign on the mat (excepting special institutional purchases). I place archival tissue between the matted print and its window mat. Then, 1-ply archival barrier paper over the top of the window mat. I place the entire sandwich in clear polypro bags then cut cardboard oversize of the mat at least 1 inch around in 2 opposing directions of "grain" construction so that 2 layers cover both top and bottom. Then tape it up, paying attention to covering the open sides completely. The whole package sandwich consisting of 4-ply matted print, 8-ply window mat, and 4 cardboard layers is very stiff and unyielding. For multiple prints I use AirFloat StrongBoxes (expensive).
Last edited by ROL; 09-10-2011 at 11:47 PM. Click to view previous post history.
Substitute "masonite" for "cardboard" in ROL's post above and you will have a nearly indestructible package. I also put a second bag over the print which gets taped to the masonite. The only time I have heard of a problem of all the people who I know who do this is when someone put a forklift through the print stack. Otherwise, you are pretty much guaranteed to have the print arrive in pristine condition. Cardboard can bend even if you double it up so it is best to avoid it. The masonite looks a lot more professional too. Glue a label on it and off you go.
Just go to Lowe's or Home Depot and they will even cut it to size for you. It is cheap.
calumet carton ( a site sponsor ) sells stay flats
i have often send prints to clients in those.
i don't put the "tabs" in the slots though,
i use packing tape and tape the end shut...
never had a complaint ...
you could also put your matted + baggied print in a large box
filled with packing peanuts ... costs quite a sum of $$
( i have send sheets of foam core / box camera kits this way, and the shipping
is NOT cheap. )
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Originally Posted by M. Lointain
As with many things photographic, experience will guide the degree of execution/protection/cost. Never had a cross-grain cardboard sandwich arrangement bend in the smaller sizes noted (a 4-ply matted print plus an 8-ply window mat is already fairly stiff at the core). AirFloat shipping packages have 1/4 inch plastic inserts on the inside of their units to prevent punctures, functioning better than masonite. Inexpensive plastic sheeting can be found at home stores to provide this extra protection should you desire it. But the weight of your package and shipping costs will increase dramatically (necessarily for large and multiple prints)
Thanks to all for your guidance. This is very helpful information. It is amazing (but not surprising) to see the variability in how photogs ship their larger prints.
Biggest question is of course, how far are you shipping them? From where to where?
Regardless, though, here are some ways I've shipped large prints. If you want something ready-made, you can buy "Print Pads". These are hinged cardboard pieces that you attach the print to with corners and then this entire piece slips inside another cardboard sleeve. The corrugation on each of the pieces goes in different directions, so it is considerably sturdier. Also, you can pay extra and get the hinged cardboard pieces with "puncture guard" - which means that the interior piece is lined with a thin rigid plastic. I've shipped unmounted 18x24 prints to Sweden via FedEx with these. If you go this route, make certain to wrap the entire package in plastic to prevent water from penetrating the cardboard. And of course, make certain to fully seal all the seams with tape. No point in wrapping in plastic if there isn't a full seal. You probably can find the Print Pads at different places for different prices, but here is a link to one site. http://www.masterpak-usa.com/cat_102_printpad.htm
If you want a crazy strong DIY solution, you can just sandwich MDF or plywood panels around the prints and then screw them together (as long as the stack of prints isn't too thick - and I generally use a cardboard layer between the prints and the wood). This is basically creating a thin makeshift crate. Once the pieces are screwed together, you tape around all the edges to make certain water can't penetrate. I've shipped 20x30 unmounted prints to Lebanon via FedEx this way with no problems.
The above solutions have worked for me in sending delicate, valuable pieces internationally using carriers like FedEx, who really couldn't give a damn about the artwork inside - hence my making them rather indestructible.
If you are shipping continental US and want to avoid carriers like USPS/FedEx/UPS, you can always hire space on a fine arts shuttle. Since professionals would be handling your work at all times, you can simply sandwich the prints in cardboard and wrap that in plastic and send them on their way. (shuttle services are generally the cheapest service that fine art shippers offer, but it is still ridiculously good service)
You could always do price comparisons between lightweight packing and fine art shipping vs heavy duty packing and mail/package carrier services. If you want any recommendations for fine art shippers, let me know.
Hope the above helps.