What is the best way to send art?
It depends on how big the original artwork is, how it was created and whether it is framed or not. Also, if it is on paper or canvas, can it be rolled?
So, let’s deal with those points individually:
If your art can be rolled, this is the safest way to send it, providing you use an 8cm+ thick-walled tube. If it can’t be rolled, then ‘sandwich’ it between two sheets of thin MDF, making sure you protect the face of the work, and seal it down to ensure nothing ‘moves’. Wrap in brown paper and seal all the edges with packaging tape. It’s good to also wrap the ends, where the most wear will happen. Mark the package with ‘Handle with Care’ stickers or tape, and remember to add your ‘sender’s address’.
For small art that’s under 61 x 46 x 46 cm, it’s best to use Special Delivery via the Post Office. Again, package it well.
For big art - over the size the maximum Special Delivery size, you'll need to use ParcelForce or one of the Courier companies, DHL, FedEx, etc. Again pack the art well and be aware that most packages are machine-handled, so make sure you package is robust and will withstand part of the journey on a conveyor belt with lots of other packages! Bubble wrap on the inside of the package is ok, but not on the outside - as this can cause the package to ‘snag’ during processing.
Pastels, deep impasto oils and montages are the most difficult to pack and ship, if in doubt speak to your local framer, they will have a lot of experience packing and shipping art. They might also stock the expanding boxes that are great for shipping - we have a few, but not all sizes. The two biggest risks for shipping art of any size are; the package being ‘punctured’ by another package, and things inside a package moving about and damaging the contents.
To insure your package or not?
The issue here is whether you’ll be paid out what you think your art is worth. Just because you take out a ’£1,000.00’ cover doesn’t mean you’ll get £1,000.00 in compensation. The compensation is normally calculated on what the item was worth in the eyes of an insurance assessor. This can be the sum of the material costs balanced against the proven retail value, minus any profit. And ‘proven value’ means documentation to establish the value. To quote the Post Office: “Proof of the items value which must show what it cost the claimant to acquire, purchase or manufacture the original item”. Therefore, an artwork which you hope to sell for £1,000.00 might only achieve £150.00 in compensation!
To realistically insure your artwork in transit, you need to speak to a specialist insurer or ask advice from the Fine Art Trade Guild.