Flawless artwork can be rendered ruined by improper packaging during transit to its final location. Whether it is being shipped from the source to a consumer or simply being carried home after being purchased, effective packaging lets prints reach their intended destination unharmed. As an artist this should be of the utmost priority to you when shipping your product.
This has become much more important since the advent of the internet, whereas before artwork was purchased directly from the painter or printer, now it is shipped to the consumer from various origins. Protecting the artwork in the transit period should be of the utmost concern to whoever is shipping it. In order to ensure this the shipper should realize what would damage the artwork, the need for interior cushioning and finally the cost to the consumer.
Different artwork is damaged in different ways. An impact that would damage a sculpture would not necessarily damage a painting, for example, rubbing against the corrugated container will certainly damage a painting or print. This knowledge can help the shipper design their container. Paintings or prints should be inserted in a container that minimizes contact with the corrugate packaging as this will rub off the ink and paint. An intuitive design for framed artwork on a substrate involves a padded slot in a courage container which is the only actual contact it has with the container. The empty space is then filled by cushioning which secures the painting in place. Design innovations such as these can help make transit safe and secure, which means customers are happy and may purchase again. On the other hand, a sculpture should be more concerned with impact forces, containers should be designed to minimize movement while in transit. This can be done through the use of inflatable plastic pouches that fill all the voids in the container or through padded packaging. Scuffing is also a concern for sculptures if they are made from a fragile material or painted. Keeping what is considered damage to each individual type of art can help make these decisions.
Interior cushioning adds extra expense to each package, but prevents damage done to the artwork. For example in the package explained above there is space around the padded slot between the stretched artwork and filled with some kind of cushioning. Typically inflatable pillow packs would be used because these are inexpensive and fill an efficient amount of volume. Other types of fill can be used such as polystyrene ( Styrofoam peanuts) and paper, these all have their respective uses depending on the situation. Corrugate partitions can also be used, this is simply corrugate shaped to fill voids in a package. This is usually inexpensive, the corrugate only needs to cut off the extra space not entirely fill it. As is always the case, there is no right solution it depends upon the amount of protection you need and what materials can be used. For example, in the above mentioned package there is a corrugate partition, cushioning materials and inflated pillow pouches being used. The partition makes the framed canvas sit in the right spot in the box, however, the corrugate causes damage to the canvas so it must be covered with some kind of barrier. Finally, there is extra space in the box and this must be filled with pillow pouches to prevent the framed print from moving.
As is the case with all decisions, cost is a limiting factor. The box described above is extremely effective at protection, but is going to be time and resource intensive. Assembling the box and inserting the cushioning materials will take a fair amount of more time then simply loading a standard box. It also will cost much more, the initial box is still in the equation but there have been other parts added to it. All of these are factors, sometimes it is cheaper to simply use a standard container and just use more insulation then to create a whole new design. For high cost, low volume products more resource intensive packaging is more acceptable. Adding an extra dollar onto costs for an object with a high profit margin is acceptable when it means that it will reach the consumer undamaged. However, for lower margin items the extra cost is often not something can be allowed and standard packaging should be utilized.
Understanding the different factors that are present that can damage the artwork and the limiting factors in resources available can add to creating the right packaging to ship a piece of artwork undamaged.