But getting artwork packed up and shipped is one of my least favorite of the art business activities. Even when I think I have everything on hand, it seems like there is something to scramble for. I save boxes and I purchased special tubes (like the large one on the floor in the picture). And it still happens that I won't have the right size and I have to retrofit a box. Sometimes, I am also searching for the artwork among the pieces I have stored.
As an artist that works with fabric, I have the nice advantage of being able to roll up my artwork and not have to worry about a frame getting broken during transit. To package an artwork, I start by rolling it on a foam or cardboard roller. I buy swim noodles during the summer to have on hand on which to roll the artwork. I also store my larger artworks rolled. Sometimes I have to "borrow" a roller from a piece being stored or cut one to size, or tape two together to get a longer one (foam pipe insulation is sometime used as it comes in a little bit longer lengths, but is not as stiff).
Once rolled, I will tie around the piece with fabric ties so it doesn't come unrolled. I have made a bunch of these ties, but I am often searching to find one, or have to "borrow" again because they have all been used.
I like to have the roll in a plastic bag and a cloth bag that has my information on it, as well as the title and picture of the piece. I've started making bags with nylon fabric so I can skip the plastic, but I only have one or two. This time when I was packing the larger piece for that tube, I did not have any bags long enough. So, I had to sit down and make a bag. It took about a half an hour.
Repacking instructions also get printed and included for artwork going to an exhibition. Most venues hosting an exhibition now require the artist to pay for the return shipping and they want a pre-paid label or check for the amount. Therefore, before sealing up the box, it has to be weighed and measured and shipping calculated and pre-paid label printed to include in box. Then everything can be taped up and either dropped off at the FedEx, UPS, or postal office or scheduled for a pick-up (for an extra fee).
My goal, someday, is to have each large artwork rolled and stored in it's own bag so I can just put it in a box. I have a few like that. But it takes more room for each piece to be stored on it's own roll. Usually, I have several or more artworks on one roll. I'm not sure there is much I can do to stream-line the process, besides making a ton of bags and fabric ties to have on hand.
Or I could make all my artwork the same size so that all the packing materials can be the same size. I don't think I'll do that.