Written by Brenda Dunn, member of the Young Arts Leaders Collective
Shipping is always a little nervy! Even the best possible packaging can go awry. But you can take some preventative measures and have a plan in place for how you’ll keep your clientele happy if something does go wrong in transit.
Cost and shipping method: Depending on the size of your piece, many items can be sent via Canada Post. There are options for speedy shipping that keep your work out of transit for very long, and sometimes this is worth the cost for delicate items. Remember to confirm the exact address from your client and get an estimate so you can work it into your cost, or advise your client what to pay. There are also freight and courier companies for larger scale and more precious works. These can be costly but are sometimes the only options depending on scale. If there’s no hurry, greyhound freight can be an excellent inexpensive option. FedEx and UPS can run pricier but are sometimes a good choice for difficult to reach areas or for delicate works. Be open with your client about your suggestions for how best to keep the piece safe.
Packing: If you package pieces safely, it is much more likely to arrive in tact, even over longer shipments. Protect the surface of your piece with parchment or wax paper so it’s not in contact with any materials. You can use lightweight backing like wood panel to keep works flat. After protecting the surface add a protective layer like bubble wrap before boxing. It’s also a good idea to reinforce the corners with some extra protection. If your work is dropped, this will often be the point of impact. Depending on the distance, you may also want to double-box your piece and add a layer of packing paper in between. Remember to waterproof by wrapping the entire package in plastic prior to a final box and don’t take the measurements or weights until you’ve packaged completely. Talk to your carrier about insurance and if you can’t afford to replace the piece, cough up the money to insure it on route. Nothing is worth a disappointed client!
Lastly, what ever option you choose, get a tracking number and a receipt. Shipping costs are tax deductible so hold on to that record. You’ll also want to pass the tracking info on to your client so they can keep an eye and let you know when the piece had arrived safe and sound.
If the worst case scenario happens and a piece is damaged in transit, focus on keeping your client happy rather than passing blame. Can the piece be repaired long-distance? Can a replacement be sent? A discount offered if the damage is not too severe? You may have to chase the insurance for reimbursement, but the focus is ideally on making sure your buyer has a great experience.
The Young Arts Leaders Collective (YALC) is an initiative of the AOE Arts Council. YALC's mission is to support the professional development of young emerging artists and arts administrators in Ottawa. In the initial stages this will include a mentorship program, networking opportunities, the dissemination of information, and communication to connect young, emerging artists and arts administrators in Ottawa with each other and with other artists, to help contribute to building a thriving Ottawa arts community.