This part of the process made me want to rip my hair out, make a noose, and hang myself.
Because at this stage I was almost wishing that I had just gone with the galleries option to print and mount for me and save myself the cost and headache of shipping.
I'll start with packaging the smaller prints you plan to sell.
Any packaging that will touch the print itself needs to be archival and acid free, because if it isn't, it could cause the print to fade quickly over time. It can also cause discolorations and warping in some cases. You can purchase acid free archival materials from a few places, my favorites are
Bags Unlimited and Clear Bags
It's a good idea to get the backing board, so that your prints aren't in danger of being easily bent, and the bags are a good idea to keep them tidy, prevent fingerprints from handling and it makes it easy to stuff a business card and certificate of Authenticity in the back. I really like the bags with the sealable flap.
Now, for shipping. Remember folks- I work for the postal service. Take my advice on this, really.
There is no reasonable way you can expect any shipping service to handle your packages individually and with the great care that they deserve. It's not feasible. Each carrier handles far too many packages daily to ensure that each package can be treated with extreme deference to it's contents. Of course, we try our best and we don't go out of our way to put packages in places where they'll be destroyed, but it's up to you to package them to withstand the perils of shipping. Doesn't matter who you use.
If you choose to send your prints un-mounted to the gallery- send them inside a plastic bag, rolled and in a shipping tube. Don't forget to tape the heck out of both ends of the tube, because I see it happen all the time that the ends pop off and contents spill out or moisture gets in. Any tracking labels should be affixed length-wish. So that the scanners can scan them. (Laser scanners can't bend around a tube!!)
If you have already mounted your prints, this is where you'll be kicking yourself.
First you need to find a sturdy box, like a really sturdy box. If the prints get tossed in a hamper or truck and something else kinda heavy get's put on top of them, they will bend, even when mounted on gator board.
The UPS store and possibly Pak-Mail have large, sturdy boxes you can buy that should stand up to shipping. Make sure to wrap in bubble wrap and for an extra measure of sturdiness I would add another panel of foam core or something, just in case the box gets punctured.
Shipping costs: Comparison
Probably every carrier will have a surcharge for size. These are large prints and the packaging will make them even larger. So be sure to account for the size surcharge when calculating your prices.
We are going to assume a piece comparable to what I just shipped. The dimensions are
L=33 H=33 and W=6 and it weighed about 15lbs. It's going to Texas from Indiana.
USPS- 77.90 for Standard post- Delivery estimate- 2 weeks.
UPS Ground- $75.74 4 days shipping
UPS Second day air= 164.64 2 days shipping.
Fedex 2 day Am=$94.22 PM=84.20
Fedex turns out to be the best deal for the time. Since I'm a procrastinator, I need a two day service.
The gallery won't ship these back to you for free, and mine had the caveat that if you leave them there for too long, they will be considered a donation to the gallery and you forfeit any proceeds from their sale. So, you'll also need to pay that shipping cost again, to have them returned to you. You can do this easily by asking for a bill of lading or have a pre-printed label to be included in the package. The gallery will re-use your own packing materials and return them to you in the same manner you have sent them. They are not responsible for damages during shipping.
*A note about postal insurance. I have never heard of anyone who has had an easy time making a claim and immediately getting their money back. It is usually a long drawn out process and often ends with the postal service determining that the fault was not theirs. I don't know about the other guys.
Another thing to mention is that you can only insure an item like these for the cost to recreate them. Not for their implied value, but for their actual replacement value. How much would it cost to print and mount them again? That's your insured value. You cannot insure for potential loss of income either. So if the carrier loses your package and finds it after the show has ended, you cannot claim that you lost $10,000.00 in potential sales. Because you can't prove you would have made those sales. Is the insurance worth the cost? It's up to you. If you're willing to fight with them to comp you , sure, go for it. If it's more of a headache to you to fight the red tape, then leave it be.
There ya go! Everything I've learned the hard way from start to finish about approaching galleries, printing for shows, and shipping large prints. I hope I've been helpful for you and if you liked this series of posts, please like and share these with the little links below.
If you have anything you'd like to add, do it in the comments and I"ll update the posts with credit to you!
My Fellow Fine Artists
Tammy Zurak of Z Photog Studio | Memphis, TN, USA | Fine Art/Illustrative Photography Gallery:
Pam Korman of District Photography | Philadelphia, PA, USA | Fine Art Photography:
www.bonniealrifai.com Fine art photography
Handy Andy Pandy