Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Mailing your pencil portraits

Hi Darla!
What kind of packaging/how do you ship your portraits in to make sure they aren't damaged through the mail?

I send my pencil portraits unframed. If you frame your art, then these ideas won't be the best for your purpose.

I used to use two 11"x3"x10", what I would do is cut down one of them to create sort of a cardboard envelope, then that would go inside a priority mail box kept flat, and then tape around the edges. It took way too long to cut those mailers and create the envelopes.

Over time, I've found I don't care for the USPS mailing - there is no way to know when the package arrives, unless you pay for all their shipment notification stuff, and it's not very accurate anyway. I like to know when it will arrive so I can tell the client when to expect it. Priority Mail can be a good option, but it depends a lot also on your local post office (mine happens to be very busy and too hard to deal with.) However, if you get a postal scale, you can pay and print for your packages right from your home computer.

I ordered boxes from and also corrugated cardboards. I got a pretty shallow box. I put styro popcorn in a single layer on the bottom, then I have the artwork pressed between the 2 cardboards (I make sure the corrugation lines lay opposite each other - it makes it stronger I figure) then I put pieces of masking tape on all 4 edges to hold it in there. My art is in plastic sleeves before it goes between the cardboards.

So after the single layer of styro, I place the cardboard with the art in, then I surround that with more styro and seal it up.

There is a cost to this because of the boxes, but I've felt it's been a time saver, and it looks a lot more professional when the client gets it.

I can find out what size box I ordered...I need to look into the cardboards better, because the ones I bought are square, and they just barely handle my art. I should've gotten something larger.

If you order a free catalog, you can call them and ask for samples of the different stuff so you can check it out.

I was first going to go with a white smooth cardboard type of large photo mailer, but when I ordered a sample, I saw that it just wouldn't do. I talked to my UPS guy, and he said he recommended something with some height to it, because when you go with the thin stuff, it can get torn up in the processing machines when it's mailed.

If you decide to use a mailing tube (sometimes I just buy a round one from UPS Store when I'm there for convenience if it's a larger artwork) make sure you put it into a triangular style tube. You can get Priority Mail triangular tubes from signing up at the post office website....or you can order and pay for plain ones from Uline. I find that the ones the USPS gives away are far too thin and crushable. But, you don't want the tubes to be round on the outside, because they have been known to roll out of the trucks (per my UPS Store guy)

UPS will send you a shipment confirmation and a delivery confirmation email. I take the shipment confirmation email and cut and paste the important bits for the client and email it to them so they will know when to expect it.

If you decide to place an order from Uline, you can find some discount codes etc from and other sites like it - but definitely get samples before you decide on a box or boxes etc so you can make sure it'll work for you. Otherwise you are running into a big expense because you have to get the stuff in bulk.

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