Question Image packing for shipping

Dominik W

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Based on your experience both shipping, or receiving products for framing, which is your preferred method for large photographic prints? I have been packing my photographs which are 24x30 together with acid free foamcore wrapped in a crystal-clear bag (and then boxed in cardboard). This keeps the image flat and has a nicer presentation when a customer receives and opens the package. I have had a bit more of a predicament to do the same with my 34x44 images as the object is quite large and not everyone can fit it into their car to take to a framer (although they would have the same issue picking up a frame with that size image if the framer does not deliver).

My hesitation with tubes is that people can damage the image after receiving it, especially when they try to take it out to inspect it and roll it back up. Receiving a tube for a fairly expensive purchase is also less "striking" than a flat image that can be enjoyed even before framing.

Any thoughts would be appreciated.
 
Dominik, I gather that you are a photographer from your website.
What size tube are you using, diameter and wall thickness? How are you wrapping the image in the tube?
Are you wanting to ship your images with or without mounting to a rigid backing?

Remember that large paintings are also shipped in tubes. If you are wanting or are currently using tubes there are established methods for this packaging method.

Rules to remember:
  • Use an appropriate sized tube. The item diameter being smaller that ID of the tube.
  • EX: A 4" diameter tube might be considered as a minimum tube diameter. The smaller the diameter, the more stress there will be on the surface of the item.
  • Have the face of the image facing out.
  • Wrap the item in an appropriate wrapping material for protection. EX: conservation quality paper or film.
  • Consider waterproof and humidity resistant materials.
  • Consider the climate conditions for the shipping, transit, and destination locations
  • Cover this "wrapped item" with some sort of padding.
  • Note: the padded item should be able to be inserted into the tube with ease(allowed to slide out) without effort.
 
I feel the problem with shipping in tubes is WHEN the tube gets a ding, the print will have a ding too. I have shipped lotsa prints in boxes much larger the a loosely rolled print. Put it in a plastic sleeve or bag and seal against moisture changes. Pack the corners of the box around the print with lightly wadded up tissue to center the print in the box. Same padding on the ends. Much lighter than the tube style.
 
Kudos to you for considering this as part of your process.
Many artists don’t put much thought into it besides “How cheap can I do this?”.


Just my observations as a framer, I have no real experience with shipping artwork.

From a framer’s viewpoint, rolled prints can be a hassle, especially larger ones of a media that can easily be damaged by friction.
We have all had customers bring in artwork or prints that have been marked, marred, dinged or dented because the customer wasn't cautious removing the item at home, or the packing wasn't well considered to make it easy to remove.

And trying to unroll and flip over a very large, tightly rolled art print is a PITA.

I don’t really ship anything regularly. Isn’t one of the big reasons people ship rolled that it is less expensive than oversized flat packaging?

And aren’t’ tubes supposed to be less likely to be damaged than large flat packages?

I’ve had customers bring in round, triangular and square packaged rolled prints. Not sure of any advantages other than price.

I’ve had more folded/damaged “Do Not Bend” flat packaged artworks come in than I have had damaged rolled packaging.
 
I get a lot of work from many different places and the most successful shipping method for larger works on paper involve a 4" tube that the pieces are rolled around using glassine or tissue, as JFeig mentioned. There is usually a layer of craft paper added, and the ends are taped to the tube to limit movement of the art (I have had pieces damaged from twisting inside the package if they weren't secured in this manner.
Then that is put in a larger tube with appropriate padding to keep the smaller tube snug in the larger one, and the ends of the tube are also packed with material to keep the smaller tube from shifting.
That, in turn, is packed in an elongated square or triangle profile box, and secured in that as well. The outer box serves to absorb traumatic blows, and keeps the tube from rolling around during transit. The outer tube not being in direct contact with the art also helps limit concussive damage.
This is pretty much SOP for items I receive from UK and EU countries, and is being used a bit more in domestic shipping as well as the incidence of damage has increased over the last couple years.
Using waterproofing techniques as Greg mentioned is a bonus treatment.

Lastly, put a warning on the outside that the piece should be opened only by a professional framer, and they can record and assess damage as it is being unpacked, if necessary.
Also mention that the tube is not a place to store art, and the work should be removed ASAP and safely stored in flat folders until framed. The longer it stays in the tube, the harder it is to get it to lay flat again.

You can take all the precautions in the world but art gets damaged anyway. I've had a forklift tine skewer a plywood crate with two framed pieces in it, and received a heavy duty tube that was crushed and the tire tracks were easily visible.
Also best to understand how the insurance of carriers work and what their limits of liability are. As the provider of you own art, your coverage will only cover the actual cost of replacement, not the retail value.
 
YouTube is your friend.
 
How badly could they damage a print you ask???

Here is one shipped in a rectangular box that was crushed. I told them tube but they didn't listen. And following that is a final version once they shipped it properly.

bike.jpg


m952C.jpg
 
It sounds like when you ship flat you are adding extra packaging and then boxing it.
Do the same with a rolled up print.
Add extra packaging, and either put it in another tube, or box.

Flat packed tends to get damaged more in transit, but perhaps you can get reimbursement.
Items in tubes can get damaged by the customer. Who may blame someone else.
Do with that what you will.
 
Lastly, put a warning on the outside that the piece should be opened only by a professional framer, and they can record and assess damage as it is being unpacked, if necessary.
Also mention that the tube is not a place to store art, and the work should be removed ASAP and safely stored in flat folders until framed. The longer it stays in the tube, the harder it is to get it to lay flat again.
Those two comments were also on my mind. I just forgot to type it into my comment.
 
One thing to consider when packaging things for shipping is whether the shipping company will charge the shipment as actual weight or dimensional weight. Many items that are packaged in a flat manner have a much greater dimensional weight than they do an actual weight and they way they are configured can add a significant additional cost to the shipping costs.
 
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