Five Steps for Successfully Moving Your Artwork

Winceyco family, Please help me welcome guest blogger Aimee Lyons.


Image via Pixabay


For an artist, the studio is a sacred space. It is also a place that holds a high personal investment value. Art supplies are expensive, and the finished product is priceless. That’s why it’s important to know how to pack and move your work safely. A little education goes a long way in protecting your precious investment.


First: Make a plan. Take stock of your work. Move all art to one area of your house (preferably one with a consistent climate). Take photos and note the condition of each piece. If any items become damaged, you’ll need this inventory for insurance purposes. Divide your art by type and by value. If moving costs become an issue, you may have to make quick decisions on which art justifies additional packaging or specialty moving costs. If you’re an established artist, you may want to have your art valued by an appraiser. Be clear with the appraiser about future plans for your art.


Second: Gather materials. Once you have your list of artwork divided by type, you can determine the types of materials you need to protect them. For paintings framed with or without glass, you will need enough cardboard to cover each side, bubble wrap to protect it, and a final box for the wrapped piece. In addition, you may also need corner protectors and additional paper or packing materials to pad the box. This is where remembering the phrase “measure twice, cut once” comes in handy - you can keep costs under control by knowing the dimensions of your art. This way, you will only buy the amount of materials you need, which reduces your costs and waste. If you are moving a particularly valuable piece, you might consider pre-made, foam-insulated boxes from a specialty packaging supplier. This option can get costly - use it only when the value of the piece justifies it.


Third: Tackle the outliers. Once you have planned how you’ll pack standard pieces, it’s time to look at the odd ducks. Maybe you have extra-heavy equipment (like a kiln), or perhaps you have an oddly-shaped sculpture. In these cases, it’s best to source special packing materials (like foam-padded crates) or custom make your own, enlist the assistance of a speciality mover, or even rent a small crane to remove the item from your home.


Fourth: Get creative. There are few hard and fast rules when moving art, because art itself is so varied. If you’ve planned well and used lots of padding, there are a few ways to keep moving costs down. Try finding boxes and crates second-hand. Electronics stores that ship large items may have old foam they’re willing to part with. Use cardboard egg cartons to pad less valuable artwork. Scour the art store clearance rack for acid-free paper that you can use to divide your artwork. Check the local swap meet or Craigslist for gently-used packing boxes. Not only will creativity save you money - it is good for the environment too!


Last, but not least: Hire reliable help. You may want to do most of the work yourself, but some jobs are best left to professionals. When it comes to finding a good mover, read reviews, compare prices, and get recommendations. If your friends aren’t artists, ask people who have moved heavy or awkward equipment, like pianos or safes, because these skills transfer. Ask for bids from several movers, making sure the estimator sees every element of the job. Show the estimator the artwork, and discuss the value and challenges with the pieces. This is where step one comes in handy; if your art is in one space, it’s easy to discuss with your mover. A mover may be expensive, but if you have a bizarre situation (for example, you need to remove a sculpture through a window), it’s better to work with someone who knows what they’re doing. It can save you headaches and added expenses later.


Moving is a stressful endeavor. You can lessen the move’s impact on your life by planning, gathering the right materials, getting creative, and recruiting help. You’ve worked hard for your collection, and your move should respect and protect your efforts.


Author: Aimee Lyons

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