What’s the Deal with Art Shipping?

Shipping is the worst part of being in the art industry. I’ve shipped some pieces to clients where shipping cost more than the painting itself! WHAAAA?! That’s crazy talk. It is crazy talk, I’m fully aware.

I have cried more about shipping than over anything else in my life probably. Here is why shipping costs so much and why it isn’t new.

1. Shipping has always cost a ton!

Shipping hasn’t changed, we have. Consumers (myself included) have been conditioned to almost expect free shipping when ordering a product (thanks, Amazon). Other companies slash their shipping fees by more than half, just to compete sometimes. But here’s the truth. It is a part of their ad budget. Free shipping doesn’t mean nobody has to pay for it, it means Amazon sees shipping as ad dollars because people are usually willing to buy more when they don’t pay for shipping. Small retailers like me, who ship huge awkward size boxes often can’t afford to eat the shipping costs and roll it into ad dollars, because we aren’t selling millions of products a day. And people don’t necessarily buy more art when the shipping is free, sometimes they just like one piece in particular.

2. Shipping Insurance

This hikes up the price of shipping too. I fully insure every piece I ship. I insure all of my pieces fully so that should a piece arrived damaged to you, I can repay you in full, or create you a new piece with new materials. If at all possible I hand deliver my pieces in person. There is no better delivery or insurance than myself. I deliver to clients in the D.C. metro area. If you’re in the area ask about free delivery!

3. Tracking is actually a lot of work

Have you ever tracked a package that you sent across the country? That one package that you wrapped up with tender loving care, prayed over, blessed with holy water, and paid $600 to ship is loaded and unloaded on planes and trucks dozens of times. Every time it is loaded and unloaded it gets scanned so that you can know where your package is at all times! On an anecdotal note, once I was tracking a package and it got stuck somewhere in Ohio for a week with no explanation, (my client was a bit pissed). I literally called the UPS store where my package got stuck and said, “Hey what’s the deal? Why hasn’t my package moved in a week? It was supposed to get there 3 days ago.” They had no explanation for me except it just was hanging out in the backroom and no one picked it up. It was picked up the next day and I got a partial refund on shipping that I was able to give back to my client. It didn’t solve all the problems, but when we realize that real human beings have to interact with our packages many times before it reaches us, it sort of makes sense why shipping is more expensive.

Those are the reasons shipping costs can be cray cray. Fortunately, shipping unstretched art in a tube, or using Genie Canvas can help alleviate these costs.

I would love to hear your insane shipping stories in the comments below. What is your biggest shipping headache?

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