Art Fair Insiders

Call for Artists, Making Money at Juried Art Fairs, Craft Shows and Festivals

Absolute Best Way to Ship Art? and the consequences

My friend, painter Greg Strachov, is recovering from brain surgery (that is another story) and he asked me to share the following information with all of you.

From Greg:

Below is an issue that I discovered regarding sending art by way of the post office.  They do everything possible not to pay for damage.   The note below I sent to various newspapers around the United States.  I also wanted the artists to read this as this is an important awareness that will have them use the UPS to send art.  FedEx does not insure art at all.

Dear editor,  (I used the editors name in each letter)

The following is a very important observation made regarding the US Post Office.
Something needs to be done and reporting to public awareness is my first step.  
My name is Gregory Strachov and my career is:
It seems that artist’s cannot be covered for damage to their shipments by the USPS because they are the receipt to its cost value.

I am an artist who sent a gift to an avid collector of my work.  The gift was a limited edition print which was worth $450.00.   Seeing that the recipient did not pay for it, it was insured for production value which was $50.00 by the post office.   The print arrived to the collector of my work destroyed.   I immediately reported the claim and had the recipient show the damage to their post office.   When I contacted the post office, they always had something else for me to do which was only to pass time and move past the deadline.   They later claimed that I do not have a receipt for the claim and I told them that I am the receipt.  I know the value of the ink and the value of the fine art paper that was used and had this in writing.  I am not insuring the  retail value but insuring the production cost because it was not purchased.

In this process, I learned that the post office uses every method to stop damage payment and provides cause for claimers to give up.   They set up a system where it is impossible to collect for damage on a claim.  I learned that my post office has numerous people who tried to process a damage claim and were forced to give up.  I am not giving up.  I want the United  States to become aware of the way the US Post office earns money and keeps from paying legitimate loss claims by their customers.
Below is a copy of the letter that I sent to the post office.

Best regards,
Gregory Strachov

We all depend on the Post Office to handle our shipping, can you share the info above?

What have been your experiences?

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Comment by Len Jagoda on February 22, 2019 at 1:08pm

They all have challenges. I use Airfloat strongboxes and include a return shipping label if shipping to an exhibition (required anyway) but also to customers. But no shipper can truly be counted upon - I am dealing with UPS on a lost package right now.  USPS gave me tracking numbers but for some reason the tracking numbers never registered in their system one of the packages did not reach the destination and they refused to pay their $50 in spite of me having a printed receipt with the tracking number.  BTW - shipping cylinders via USPS is still the cheapest way (UPS doesn't like odd shapes).  You just have to do your best packaging.  Even using the Airfloat strongbox, if there is glass I add glass skin and then also put a sheet of Masonite on top of the frame wrapped with stretchwrap to hold it in place.  Plexiglas is best but if it's pastels you have the static electricity unless you can afford anti-static acrylic instead of glass.  Anyone who has shipped to a fair degree will have a horror story or two, or more.  There simply is no real guarantee and because it is your art you will have a hard time getting full value.  The best position that an artist can take when an item is sold is to get a receipt signed by the buyer before you ship. If you are shipping to an exhibit - the coverage from any shipper is likely to be minimal. Maybe a prayer will help but I just don't know the patron saint of shippers! 

Comment by Kaytee Sumida on February 10, 2019 at 8:22pm

I've seen them used by a few artists, with "high end", framed work-- worth it, it your sales are in that category.

More of those I've seen, have used the "double box trick", though, and that also works well. Keeps the corners  and edges "safe", and just requires time and a bit of "crafting" skill to construct. They, too, can be re-used-- just need to re-tape the opening.

Comment by Connie Mettler on February 10, 2019 at 11:12am

Thanks for that link, Kaytee. I don't think I've seen this product before. 

Comment by Kaytee Sumida on February 8, 2019 at 2:19pm


This is an example. They can be re-used. You also can "make your own", by double boxing with PM boxes (med inside a large, for example), along with bubble wrap and/or foam padding, if you will be shipping PM anyway, and have smaller pieces.

Comment by Kaytee Sumida on February 8, 2019 at 2:11pm

Sonia-- had that "we don't GUARANTEE a 3-day delivery for Priority" experience for something I sent to my sister. It was an info packet/worksheet for breast cancer follow-up/care to take to her post surgical appointment. It should have been delivered the day before her appointment, and she was just "up the road" (2-hr drive each way), so it should have been no problem. Except for some reason, it got sent to AZ. She got it the following week. When I questioned the Post Office, I was told I should have sent it "next day" delivery (4 times the cost of PM, which in turn, was about 4 times the cost of regular mail)-- not because it would have been any more certain to have gotten there on time, but because they would have refunded the charge for "next day" if it hadn't gotten there as promised.

Comment by Connie Mettler on February 8, 2019 at 12:44pm

Otis, what are "Art Boxes?"

Comment by Bernard Zalon on February 8, 2019 at 11:37am

That's happened to me a few times with USPS but generally I find them to be very reliable. And much less expensive.

Comment by Sonja Jones on February 8, 2019 at 10:56am

I have not had a problem with damage, but USPS Priority mail cannot be depended on if you're trying to meet a deadline.  I sent a painting priority "2-day" mail from Ohio to New Jersey, a full week before client needed it.  Day seven, package had still not arrived and client was fumming.  Tracking showed the last location of package in Texas!!! And, tracking had not been updated for three days.  When I called post office, was informed that I had to wait for the package to be over two weeks late before they would investigate!  It did finally arrive, but I had to send client a print as a peace offering!  When it absolutely, positively has to get there - don't use USPS.  And also, don't guarantee your clients delivery by a certain date - only that you will ship by a certain date!

Comment by Otis Harville on February 7, 2019 at 11:10pm

I ship with glass using FedX and Art Boxes and have never had a problem.

Comment by Kaytee Sumida on February 7, 2019 at 11:29am

1. Use Plexiglass if you ship frames with "glass"... breakage is very rare. It's required for Comic Con's Art Show, except for a very few items (displayed on tables-- not hung, set up by artist). 

2. Bubble wrap between and around framed pieces. Lots of bubble wrap. Do not use "peanuts"-- not only can they shift around, but whoever opens the package will hate you-- they fly around and get everywhere. Exception-- bag them to fit around 3-D pieces, and tape the bag closed. 

3. Priority Mail, insured. Include an invoice in the package for full value. Use their PM boxes if possible-- they watch for them, and with the standard sizes, they are easier to ship, and thus less likely to be damaged. 

4. Make/use cardboard "corner protector pockets"-- if you purchase frames at crafts stores, many come with these. The foam used to ship heavy appliances can also be used as "edge" and "corner" padding. Do both. And bubble wrap.

Comic Con and other convention art shows I've worked with, get a LOT of "mail in" art, and very few packages have significant damage. Most 2D art is not framed-- usually matted and bagged, and similar sized pieces grouped together, then bubble wrapped; the ones that are framed, do what was indicated above.

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