Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Shipping Art

The selection of a shipping company is typically determined by deadlines and budget. As a rule, insure artwork for its full value either through the shipping company or art insurance company and opt for the shortest delivery time possible. General services, such as FedEx or DHL have fine art shipping services, as well as a variety of specialty fine art shippers.

Professional fine art shippers are the safest shipping option because they only transport artwork and use trucks that are specially designed to transport art. They also have staff trained in art handling procedures and can offer assistance with insurance, courier services, carnets, documentation, and unpacking.

When choosing a fine art shipper, look for one that offers the following:
• customized security
• temperature controlled transport
• in house pickup/delivery
• shuttle services between major cities

When shipping overseas, it's important to realize that practices differ between countries and duties and taxes are the responsibility of the owner of the artwork.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Packing Artwork

Packing artwork properly is essential to preventing it from water, moisture, mold, abrasion, and overall damage to the work. You may determine the correct packing method based on where and how the work will be transported and how often the package will be opened in transit. If you have any hesitations with packing the work, hire a professional art handler to safely pack and crate the work for you.

If you decide to pack work on your own, here are some guidelines:
• cover the artwork with a soft, acid-free material, such as glassine
• wrap the work in bubble wrap or foam padding (make sure that the corners of the artwork or frame are protected with extra padding)
• secure the bubble wrap with packing tape
• find a box that is the correct size, shape and strength to hold the work
• pad the bottom of the box with packing peanuts, place the artwork inside and add more packing peanuts to fill the box
• secure the box with packing tape
• label the box "Fragile"

When packing works on paper:
• separate each sheet of paper and wrap it entirely in glassine
• secure glassine with archival tape (be careful not to get tape on the artwork)
• place two or three layers of cardboard on both sides of the artwork to prevent any sort of bending
• tape around the outside of the cardboard pieces so they stay together

To prevent works on paper from moving around within the cardboard, you can make glassine "triangles":
• fold a sheet of paper into a triangle that has one open end
• place a triangle on all four ends of the print or drawing
• tape only the triangles to the cardboard
• leave a lip of tape on the triangles, so they are easier to remove
• place each triangle on an edge of the artwork, then tape each triangle to the cardboard
• place the taped up cardboard between two pieces of corrugated cardboard
• tape all sides securely
• pack it into a mirror pack or cardboard box to prevent any type of bending during transit

At times photographs can be rolled, wrapped in glassine and bubble wrap, and placed in a tube. However, it is best to ship all works on paper or prints flat. Rolling them can cause creases and irreversible damage.

Crating is recommended for all long distance travel or for transporting fragile or vulnerable artworks. An art handler or art shipping company can provide an estimate and suggest the best crating method based on transit details. Crates should be constructed to support the work, protect the artwork from impact, maintain a sealed environment, protect against water and sometimes provide handles for moving.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Cleaning Your Art

It's a good idea to clean artwork once every two weeks, as dirt makes the surfaces of artwork look dull and can cause deterioration. To be safe, handle artwork while wearing cloth gloves to avoid getting fingerprints or dirt on the surface of work. Do not apply
cleaning solutions, solvents, sprays, or insecticides near or directly to any work of art. Use canned air or a soft natural-bristle brush to clean sculptures and paintings.

For plexiglas frames, the surface should be cleaned with a plastic cleaner, not commercial glass cleaner. Use a non-abrasive cloth and first spray the plastic cleaner on the cloth before you clean the surface. Do not use paper towels because they will cause scratches and leave a residue on the surface.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Installing Artwork in Your Home

Art is extremely fragile and must be handled and installed with great care and sensitivity. The most common cause of damage to artwork happens when it is handled.

When you have art in your home, it is helpful to have the following on hand to move and install work:
• a pair of cloth gloves (also called photographer gloves)
• masking tape
• hammer
• level
• drill
• measuring tape
• step ladder
• hangers

It is important to know the exact material of the artwork in order to handle it properly and prevent damage. Always handle artwork with cloth gloves to prevent fingerprints or dirt from touching the work. You can find these gloves at a photography or art supply store.

Although hanging small works of art yourself may appear easy, hiring a professional installer can solve many problems. A professional can offer unique solutions as to where and how to place the work without damaging the walls or floor.

If you choose to hang artwork yourself, it is a good idea to first visualize the arrangement of your collection on paper or digitally. Steer clear of hanging work in areas such as kitchens or bathrooms or near air conditioners, vents, fans and windows. Note that sunlight, humidity and high temperatures can damage artwork.

Start by placing the larger work or work that has special requirements. Typically, large works can stand alone and smaller works that relate to each other in subject or color look better clustered together. While deciding on placement of the work, take the furniture and configuration of the room into consideration. Traditionally, two-dimensional artwork is hung at eye level so its center is about 5 feet from the floor. Sculpture can be presented on a pedestal or directly on the floor depending on what the artist intended, the size and material of the work. Once you are comfortable with the general layout, have someone else hold the work in place and delineate the corners of the artwork on the wall or floor with masking tape to define and view its placement.

For two- dimensional work, be sure to choose the appropriate hangers based on the composition of the wall and the weight of the artwork. Two hooks or d-rings can be used for most two-dimensional works. Take a look at the back of the artwork and determine the correct placement of the hangers. To accurately place the hooks on the wall, pull the hanging wire towards the top of the frame in two spots with the same distance from the top. Measure the distance from the top and the horizontal distance between the two spots. The farther apart the hangers are placed, the closer the frame will be to the wall. Translate these measurements to the wall making sure the hangers are level and gently tap them into the wall with a hammer. Afterwards, place the work onto the wall and make sure it is level.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


All drawings, paintings on paper, prints or photographs that are not in storage should be framed to protect the work from direct sunlight, humidity, moisture, dust and heat. The frame should complement and enhance the work rather than overpowering it. Consult with a professional framer to choose the appropriate frame and assure that the art will be preserved in its original condition. Request archival acid-free material when framing artwork to prevent work from fading and deteriorating.

Frames usually contain a mat that aids in protection and presentation. Mats made of matboard provide a barrier from the airborne pollutants, moisture, acids and other damaging impurities that can impact the life of the framed piece. The two most common techniques for matting artwork are float mounting and over matting. Float mounting presents the work so the artwork “floats” on top of the mat with the edges of the paper exposed. Over matting presents the work under a mat so the edges are totally covered and the work is viewable through a cut window. This method adds depth and texture to the appearance of the framed artwork.

UV coated Plexiglas or UV coated glass is recommended for the frame to protect the work from sunlight. Plexiglas is more popular, because it is lightweight and safer to ship and handle.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Donating art to a museum

Every museum has it's own policy regarding donations. However, they usually review possible donations on an ongoing basis. If the work you would like to donate seems appropriate for the museum's collection, contact the chief curator of the correct curatorial department. The museum will need to see high quality documentation of the artwork, the artist's resume and additional materials such as reviews and catalogues. When meeting with curators, tell them why you would like to donate to their collection and specify any special requests for the work.

When a museum accepts donated art, the work becomes part of the museum's "permanent collection." As the permanent collection is a continuously changing body of work, the donated work may only stay in the collection for as long as the museum curators deem it appropriate for the collection as a whole.

Museums tend to favor unrestricted donations, allowing curators to have complete control over the art. If you have restrictions, such as that the art never be sold, that it be shown within a certain time period or that it should be reproduced in catalogues in a certain way, specify them to the curator. The more important the art, the better the chances that restrictions will be honored. Donating art to a museum raises the profile of the artist and value of the artwork. Art dealers often give priority to collectors who promise to donate work to museum collections.

Make sure you understand the tax implications when you make a donation. A tax accountant or preparer can explain tax benefits to you and assist in filing appropriate tax forms.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Networking in the Art World

The art world is a very social environment that includes a diverse group of individuals who come together because they love art. Relationships between artists, curators, collectors and writers are built on professional interests but often move into the social realm. Art openings, collector groups and studio visits are important networking opportunities for collectors to build relationships and share information with gallerists, artists and other collectors.

Museum Groups
In addition to general memberships, most museums have affiliate groups that encourage members to be active participants at the museum and support the museum's programs. These programs help members gain a deeper appreciation of a specific area in the museum and foster relationships with curators and other museum members with similar interests. Programs include lectures, behind-the-scenes tours, invitations to museum openings, trips to public and private collections, collecting seminars, presentations by artists, curators or writers and other educational and social functions. There are usually annual dues associated with these special interest groups that range from $100 to $5,000. Sometimes membership is by invitation only. Members of these groups often help shape the museum through contributions to curatorial departments and programs.

Gallery openings are generally free, open to the public and offer collectors a great opportunity to be among the first viewers of an art exhibition. Here you can meet featured artists, friends of the gallery and other art enthusiasts in a casual and social environment.

Studio visits
Studio visits are an important way to meet and talk with artists in their own surroundings. Gallerists and art consultants can arrange studio visits for interested collectors. Museums, non-profits and other community art organizations also arrange open studio tours for groups of people to visit several studios during one tour. Lastly, artist residency programs often invite the public to visit the artist studios.