Pro Talk: Shipping Artwork with Dan and Stu

Packing and shipping artwork can be confusing, frustrating and expensive to deal with. Thankfully, the guys at my local shipping store, Dan and Stu from Liberties Parcel in Northern Liberties Philadelphia, took some time to shed some light on the business of transporting art.


Dan and Stu help Lentil ship Chris P. Bacon a birthday gift.

What is the biggest misconception most customers have about shipping?
Dan and Stu: Fragile and Do Not Bend stickers and labels. They help, but if you think something poorly packaged won’t break simply by writing ‘fragile’ on the box, you are mistaken. First, take the time to package an item properly for shipping. Then, place a few stickers as an additional alert.  
Don't rely on stickers to protect your precious cargo on the journey to it's final destination!

Don’t rely solely on stickers to protect your precious cargo on the journey to it’s final destination!

Tell us some of the whackiest items you have ever had to ship.
Dan and Stu: Taxidermy by far: mounted rams heads, bobcats, and the occasional trophy fish. The more delicate items have been chandeliers, antiques, and doll houses. We have also custom packed and shipped a park bench, along with a vintage hotel bell hop cart, for a freight shipment. On a daily basis, we see some strange things come through the door. 
What’s the toughest part about shipping paintings, glass objects or a fragile items such as pottery? Any tricks to packing these?
Dan and Stu: It all depends on the materials you have.  The easiest guidelines for packaging anything fragile are listed below:
1. Securely and generously wrap the item in bubble wrap
2. Find a carton that will allow that item to have a minimum of 2" of space surrounding it.
3. Surround the wrapped item in packing peanuts (DO NOT USE CRUMPLED PAPER) on all sides tightly.
4. Tape all exposed seams of the carton.
What is the worst way an artist could send a piece of art where it would almost certainly arrive broken?
Dan and Stu: Allowing any fragile item to bounce around inside the packaging or without ample padding surrounding it will almost certainly arrive damaged or broken.
how can artists accurately price out the cost of shipping and handling for their work?
Dan and Stu: There are 4 factors that will determine the cost of shipping an item:
You can call your local shipping stores with these 4 factors and they will be able to give you an accurate shipping quote, and if needed, a packaging quote (that would include materials such as bubble wrap and boxes).
Do you recommend a specific carrier? what are the pros and cons of each?
Dan and Stu: They are benefits to using USPS vs. FedEx/UPS:
-USPS will be the least expensive when shipping smaller and/or non-time sensitive shipments.
-FedEx/UPS will be less expensive when shipping larger and/or time sensitive shipments. FedEx and UPS will often times discount shipping to a commercial or business address, so make sure to clarify that in order to cut costs when possible.
Enzo helps out at the store by licking stamps.

Enzo helps out at the store by licking stamps.

Can you share any resources (links, guides) for readers who plan on packing their original artwork themselves?
Dan and Stu:
Packing paintings and framed photos for shipping by Agora Gallery:

A fun video packing pottery and putting it to the test with Sheila Corbitt:

What are the benefits of insuring artwork? How does it work?
Dan and Stu: Insuring artwork is almost a no-brainer; however, there are several variables to consider. FedEx and UPS offer $100 insurance with every shipment automatically where the USPS offers $50 protection with Priority Mail.  Adding insurance is available from all carriers; however, certain carriers have exception lists.  These lists are posted on the carrier websites. Important note: Only artwork that has been sold or professionally appraised can be insured for the invoiced amount if it fits within the carriers guidelines.

If you decide packing and shipping items yourself is way over your head, contact Stu and Dan at Liberties Parcel, which is located at 2nd and Brown in Northern Liberties, Philadelphia, PA.

Why yes, that is moi painting the winter window scene at Liberties Parcel a few years back!


Why Artists Are Afraid to Join Social Media

There are an alarming number of artists who are dragging their feet when it comes to joining in on the conversation through social media; does this sound like you? Perhaps you want the world to see your work, but you are struggling to understand how to use Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook to your advantage. Maybe you have a fear of becoming a social media zombie, or you’re afraid to leave your comfort zone of simply blogging or having a website for people to view your work. Being able to interact with other artists and art lovers might seem intimidating, but it is detrimental to the growth of your personal brand. Social media isn’t going to disappear, so if you choose to be a laggard on adopting this medium you’re only going to slow yourself down. Here are three concerns most artists have about entering the social media stratosphere, and solutions on how to overcome such obstacles.


Copyright infringement; manufacturers stealing original designs and mass producing them; fraudulent downloading and printing of original material



-Register for Pixsy. You can synch your original photos and Pixsy will scan the internet for replicas, even “checking under the couch.” This is especially helpful for photographers. This is currently in private beta mode, so pre-register now in anticipation of when the site goes live.

-It never hurts to conduct a Google search using keywords that would describe your items every now and again to monitor the results.

-Watermark your photos close to the center to avoid being cropped out, and upload smaller, more compressed files. Watermarks are annoying and ugly, but a necessity for photographers. Document work at an angle instead of straight on to make it harder to copy.

This painting is considered public domain today, but if Manet had internet in 1863 he might want to watermark his image

The original “Olympia” is considered public domain today, but if Manet had internet in 1863 he might have watermarked his image like so (This is actually a “master copy” I painted in art school)


Challenge- which Apps to use

Figuring out which social media platforms to use or bypass; updating on a regular basis; making timely and relevant updates


-Instagram and a Facebook page are a must for artists. Check out my previous blog post on how to rock Instagram here. Posting your work on Pinterest is great for weavers, ceramicists and craftspeople. Twitter is perfect if you’re involved in a lot of art shows and events. Plus, Yoko Ono is on Twitter and she’s really fun to follow.

-Set up a HootSuite account for your social media accounts. This allows you to schedule in advance, and saves the trouble of posting similar updates on different SM platforms. With the free version, you can link up to 3 accounts at once to HootSuite. You can also schedule reoccurring material if there is something important that should be shared more than once.

-You can also use ScheduGram or other apps that are designed to schedule specifically for Instagram instead of bombarding your viewers with a ton of photos at once. For instance, I made the decision to unfollow Ai Weiwei after my Instagram feed was taken over with his “leg as a gun” campaign for weeks on end–the frequent posts became too much. Your followers will become bored or annoyed, and may decide to unfollow or tune you out if you overdo it.

Challenge: fear of using Hashtags

How to use them; what’s appropriate; what not to hashtag


-Hint: There is no need to hashtag your own name. You are searchable by your name and username on Twitter and Instagram.

-Find and follow artists and peers whom you respect and admire before you post to see how others are talking about the same subject as you.

-If you can find specific hashtags that are popular or trending amongst your community, use them when it is appropriate. For instance, I used #pancakeart and #discgolf for this Instagram post:

This lead to the post going slightly viral by the time I woke up on Monday morning. Not only did I receive a shout out from master Pancake Artist Kevin Blankenship, but my disc golf pancake was also featured as the cover image in a “best of Instagram” blog on All Things Disc Golf. Instagram gets very exciting once people you don’t know start liking your posts and following you.

Conclusion: Unless your name is Lisa Yuskavage and you’re selling your work for millions of dollars in a New York gallery, you’ll want to get online so that people can discover you. Though there are risks and challenges, it is also a very fun and rewarding medium that you should get to know and embrace.

Want to keep learning more about harnessing the power of social media as an artist? Follow my blog!