March 29th, 2021
Above is what a Broken Bank Note painting looks like in a shipping crate. I custom make these in the shop and hand stencil the brand on the cover. This peice, titled Polska Slip is on its way to a show in the Denver area. I wanted to address something else: Your lack luster packaging and shipping materials.
Is It Really Important?
I dont know ...what did you spend several thousand dollars on that came in shitty packaging? Thats, right, nothing! Consumers have brand expectations at every point of contact. Once you start selling work to people other than family, you are a brand. Like it or not, customers have been socialized into high touch packaging in the luxury retail world for decades. A $10k painting is a luxury item and better meet those expectations.
I'm Not A Carpenter!
Of course you can talk your way out of anything. But if you are an artist and truly can create, the materials and media don't matter. So if you are for real, building a crate is nothing. Search Youtube and the internet for a million ideas and tutorials on how to do it. I will even give you a plan if you message me. I also understand that now might not be the time to pick up a new skill set, so I do have other ideas.
The obvious choice is a professional art crating company and if your price tag can justify the expense, it will completely exonerate you from the process. However, those companies are usually in big markets and can have quite a long lead time. They typically want the cartage to go with the crate fee as well ... a sort of all in one deal if you will. Other ideas: Local framing specialty stores and galleries in your area could be a good resource. Here is another idea. Find a local cabinet maker. They will have the tools, materials and can walk you through the design aspect, to best maximize you packaging to weight ratio.
Things To consider: Who is the cartage company? You may want to figure out which shipping company you can use and what maximum weight and size limits are. FedeX, UPS and USPS all have different requirements. If you find yourself outside of those requirements, for large or heavy pieces use an LTL bidder system, like U-Ship to find a carrier your package can be bundled with. They are essentially Less Than Full Load trucks that your package hitches a ride with for a fraction of the total load price. No matter what carrier, I suggest designing the packaging backwards from a given companies specs, to hit a goal size and weight.
It's Easy, Right?
No it is not easy. In fact it can be rather difficult. When I used the term "fraction" above, I did not mean cheap. I have spent as much as $1100 on an LTL for a large painting out of Los Angeles. But thats the deal. Everyone knows they have to pay shipping. You have to make your brand a viable option and convey the same care and attention that you did in the creation of the art, in your execution and delivery of the art. When you really get it dialed in, you start managing expectation and customer experience at the delivery and installation level as well. Regardless of what a customer spends, that level of care and detail will be their expectation. More troubling yet, If the customer spends a lot, the expectations will be even greater. You can always decide how to handle the fee. Maybe you absorb it? Maybe it is already figured into your price and you just simply offer free shipping.
In the end, if a customer spends a substantial amount of money on your work, you can decide if you want to pass the shipping fee on, or absorb the fee to develop your relationship. Either way, you need to get your brand executing at every point of contact. Including the packaging and shipping. As for developing customer relationships ...I am saving that conversation for a different post.