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How to ship prints

Of course, there is the artist, its rarety or the fact that it is signed or not, but the value of a print also depends on its condition. Knowing how to handle it with care (never bending the paper), knowing how to frame it (respecting its unicity according to its shape and age), and finally knowing how to ship it are elements of first importance. For several years, a lot of you have been asking me how to ship a print or more generally how to transport a print under the best conditions and with minimum risk. Either you send me a print or I ship you one that you have just bought, you will find below some useful advices. Please be aware that in case you should send me a print, I will be happy to provide you with all the material necessary for a proper packing. But enough long sentences and rather have a look to our packing videos!

Some advices

Since the creation of our website, a lot of visitors asked us advices on how to best pack and ship and a print. A large number of clients wanted to know what were the best framing solutions and finally others were curious about the way they needed to shoot their print. This section without pretention aims at answering all these legitimate questions.

Packing a print in a tube

Packing the print flat

How to get a print framed

Many years in the print business made us assess the irreversible damages due to bad original framing. In this section, we are not going to talk about chosing framing rods, mats, or the size of the frame and its color.

These are personal and subjective choices. However you have to keep in mind that the frame is meant not only to to bring out the beauty of the print but also to protect it. Here are some basic advices :


1/ The original margins of the print must be kept totally intact. It is the frame which has to adapt to the print and not the other way round. A print with reduced margins (even folded) loses its value. 2/ Ideally, the back of the frame should be cut out in acid free board. If this back is made of basic cardboard or plywood as it usually the case (acid materials), it is necessary to insert a sheet of acid-free paper between the print and the back of the frame. Therefore the print is isolated from the acid background (its worse ennemy).  If none of the above is done, the acidity will first make the paper brownish, then will create yellowish and reddish foxing marks (in fact there are small fungi) all over the print. If the acidity has just attacked, it is still possible to stop the process with a good restoration (watch out good restorators are not that easy to find!). Sometimes it is definitely to late to save the print. 3/ If the frame fits the exact dimensions of the print, then you just have to select a glass (see 4/). Sometimes the print and the glass are kept apart to avoid color stains on the glass. Some acid-free pieces of cardboard can do the job. If you chose a frame larger than your print, the framer can use a mat (which has to be acid-free of course!). The print is attached to the mat with 2 or 4 small hinges in paper. It is also possible to use 4 small acid-free cardboard tabs at the four angles of the mat and then introduce the four corners of the print. No tape, no glue, no band-aids (yes, we've seen that!)

4/ Even if more expensive than basic glass, antiUV glass will protect your print and will keep your print in its initial condition. Obviously, you won't hang out your print on a wall with direct sun exposure. A strong source of artificial light too close to the frame is also detrimental as it can damage the colors of the artwork. 5/ In order to avoid dust or any other polluting agents from getting inside the frame, the back of the frame and the frame itself have to isolated from the air by using some gummy paper all around the frame or eventually with large strips of brown Kraft paper. Being able to enjoy your print for a longer time implies to chose a competent framer who will know how to advice you properly.

Shooting a print

Unframed print with Julie and Georges Braque :

1/ The print has be handled very cautiously. Artificial light tend to modify the real colors of the print then if possible take the picture under natural light. However direct exposure to the sun must be avoided. If you can avoid artificial light, try to create an indirect and unified light on the entire area of the print without flash or shadows. 2/ The print must be put on the rigid support perfectly plane (a panel of wood or strong cardboard can be used) and will be maintained flat by using four clothes pegs at the four corners. An iron sheet and four magnets will do the same. 3/ The print and its stand are vertical and are facing the photographer at the same height. You can place everything on a chair, the print and its support resting against the back of the chair.


4/ The picture takes into account not only the illustration but also the margins in a whole : it is a mandatory for a perfect image.The photograph will always leave a little bit of space all around the picture. He has to stand few steps away from the print and then use the zoom. Ideally the photographer's eye should be at the center of the print. 5/ Few detailed pictures can be useful : signature, numbering, drystamps (when available), title (when indicated) or any handwritten inscriptions. The watermark is sometimes seen by transparency and is a very valuable information. 6/ Do not forget to make a picture of the back of the print. It tells us a lot about the condition.

A framed print with Stéphanie and Joan Miro :

Like in the previous situation, the picture should be made under natural light and direct sun exposure has to be avoided. The same rules (1/, 3/, 4/, 5/) from above apply but special care should be given to avoid glass reflection. Here are some advices : 1/ To avoid his/her own reflection, the photographer should stand slightly on the left or right when facing the frame. 2/ By putting a large uniform surface in front of the frame (a white wall for example or a large pale cardboard), the photographer should get rid of any others disturbing elements that could be reflected by the glass. Before shooting, the photographer must be sure that the print is perfectly clear of any reflections. 3/ Do not forget to shoot the back of the frame. The quality of the frame is important to find out the condition of the print.