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!


3 Philly Artists Who Rock Instagram

There are many social media outlets through which artists can showcase their work, but it is mind boggling for many to pick and choose which to use and which to forego. For instance, I keep bugging my amazingly talented graphic designer sister, Julie Rado, to get on Instagram. “I don’t want to have another reason to have my nose buried in my phone!” she said. Point taken. No one wants to be “that guy” who is so engulfed in posting, pinning, poking and tweeting that we lose touch with reality. However, social media is a powerful tool for artists that can help develop and show off your own personal style, as well as keeping abreast of what others in your field are doing.

Philly is home to a great number of artists, and many of them use social media to get their work out there. There are a few Philly artist Instagrammers who not only use the program exceptionally well, but are also trendsetters and totally ahead of the game. Here are 3 of my favorite Philly art peeps to follow (all profile descriptions are directly from their pages):

@StreetsDept : Conrad Benner

Born and raised in Fishtown, Philadelphia. Photojournalist. Lover of street art, graffiti, and urban exploration.

All you have to do is look at the number of followers that StreetsDept has on Instagram (a quaint 93 thousand) to realize one thing: This guy KNOWS street art. You’ll also notice that Benner makes it a point to interact with his followers who comment, which has to be a challenge given his number of followers; he is genuinely interested in what you have to say and you will be noticed. I’ve picked up a few other important cues from Mr. Benner that I feel help me stay current as an artist, Instagrammer, and lover of all things Philadelphia. First off, he uses VSCO Cam with his pictures. According to Ellis Hamberger, “Instagram set[s] out to make your mobile photos look good, VSCO hopes to make them look real.” It’s the photographer’s photo app, so if you’re a film enthusiast, check out the VSCOCam app.

Another really cool thing that sets StreetsDept above the pack is that he often takes over the feed of Visit Philly as a “guest Instagrammer” (see below). This is a fascinating and lucrative career for an artist—if you have thousands of followers, that is!

@adam_wallacavage : Adam Wallacavage 

Photographer, Chandelier maker, Militant Ornamentalist. For chandelier inquiries, contact or awallacavage@gmail http://WWW.ADAMWALLACAVAGE.COM

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It looks weird in here but sounds normal.

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Adam’s original inspiration for creating these Octopus chandeliers was from the octopus on Wednesday’s bed (Addams Family comic books). He is also a photographer, which explains the amazing photo editing skills documenting his work, unbelievable travel adventures/parties, and his love of the Philly skateboarding scene. Not to mention all of the super creepy and fascinating details of his house, which I really have to see in person someday. Adam has totally mastered the video capability of Instagram, which not many people can say. Notice the underuse of hashtags and tagging other people, which is refreshing- but when you already have 48 thousand followers, using these sparingly is A-OK. Scrolling through his comments you can see how many people are interested in buying one of his chandeliers–he wisely provides that information right in his profile description.

Adam is a great example of a Philly artist who has mastered the art of documenting his work on Instagram.

@getupart : Get Up Art 

Owner/curator of @getitgallery For shirts and other clothing visit Email/booking:

There are a ton of street artists in Philly, but not all of them capitalize on their catchy spray-painted or wheat-pasted art. Get Up Art does just that, and he does it in a creative way. He first takes a spin on Philadelphia icons (Ben Franklin with a boombox, the Phillie Phanatic spray painting a wall) and creates a really cool multi-layer stencil:

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Thanks to @tmoms for letting me paint

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and makes them into stuff you can buy, which is even cooler- and posts it on Instagram, referring you back to his storefront where you can purchase it.

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Street art has a history of being controversial, as it can be considered illegal and under the same umbrella as graffiti, vandalism, and defacing property. That’s why it’s so interesting and ballsy to see it being sold, as sometimes the artists prefer to stay anonymous. Well-known street artists like Shepard Fairey do have merchandise for fans, although that is sometimes controversial too…but if that jawn wasn’t making people mad, it wouldn’t be any fun, now would it?