International Shipping & Installation Guide for Artists
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 9 min read


  1. Select the right shipping method
  2. Prepare your art for transport
  3. Complete customs and export paperwork
  4. Track and insure your shipment
  5. Unpack and check the condition of your art
  6. Prepare for installation
  7. Install your artwork
  8. How to handle installation issues
  9. Maintain and care for your installed art

For sculptors and installation artists worldwide, getting your creations from your studio to an international destination can feel like a Herculean task. But it doesn't have to be. This guide will walk you through the process of international art shipping for sculptors and installation artists, making it as painless as possible. So, let's dive right in.

Select the right shipping method

The first thing you need to do is choose the best shipping method for your artwork. This decision can make or break your international art shipping experience. So, how do you decide? Let's break it down:

  • Size Matters: The dimensions and weight of your artwork play a significant role. For small sculptures, an express courier like FedEx might be your best bet. However, large installations usually require freight shipping.
  • Value of Art: If you're shipping a high-value piece, opt for a service that specializes in fine art shipping. These companies have experience in handling valuable artwork and often come with insurance options.
  • Destination: Think about the location you're shipping to. Some countries have specific rules and regulations regarding art imports, which might influence your choice of shipping method.
  • Time Frame: If you're on a tight deadline, express shipping options are worth considering. Keep in mind, though, that these often come with a hefty price tag.

Remember, there's no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to international art shipping for sculptors and installation artists. It's about finding the right balance between cost, speed, and safety for your unique needs.

Prepare your art for transport

Preparing your art for transport is a vital step in the international art shipping process. Whether you're a sculptor or an installation artist, the safety of your artwork lies largely in how well you prepare it for its journey. So, what should you keep in mind?

  • Protection is Key: Use bubble wrap, foam, or padded blankets to cushion your artwork. For sculptures, you might want to consider custom crating for added protection. Remember, it's better to be safe than sorry when it comes to protecting your artwork.
  • Think About the Unpacking: Imagine yourself on the other side, unpacking the artwork. Is it easy to do without damaging the piece? If not, you might need to rethink your packing strategy.
  • Weather Conditions: If your artwork is sensitive to changes in temperature or humidity, consider using climate-controlled shipping. This can help keep your artwork in the best possible condition during transit.
  • Label Everything: Ensure all parts of your installation are labeled correctly. This will make the installation process at the destination a lot smoother.

Preparing your artwork for transport may seem daunting, but with a little planning and forethought, you can ensure your artwork arrives at its destination in the same condition it left your studio.

Complete customs and export paperwork

Completing customs and export paperwork is as much a part of international art shipping for sculptors and installation artists as the creation process itself. It might not be as exciting as sculpting or putting together an installation, but it's just as important. Here's what you need to know:

  • Documentation is Important: You'll need to complete a customs declaration form that details what you're shipping, its value, and its destination. This document will accompany your art on its journey, like a passport for your artwork.
  • Valuate Your Artwork: This can be tricky, especially for unique pieces. You might want to seek professional help to ensure you're not undervaluing your work. Remember, this valuation can affect the insurance coverage for your piece.
  • Get Familiar with Export Controls: Some countries have specific rules and regulations when it comes to importing art. Make sure you're aware of these to avoid any unwelcome surprises upon arrival.
  • Consider Hiring a Broker: If all this sounds overwhelming, you can hire a customs broker. They'll handle all the paperwork and ensure everything is in order. It's like having a personal assistant for your artwork's journey!

While dealing with customs and export paperwork is not the most exciting part of the process, it's an essential step in getting your artwork safely to its new home. So, pull together your patience, get your paperwork in order, and send your art on its way!

Track and insure your shipment

Once your art has started its international voyage, there are two things you should be thinking about—tracking and insuring your shipment. Let's break down each of these elements:

  • Tracking Your Shipment: Remember that sense of anticipation you felt when sending your first piece of art? That feeling never goes away. Tracking your shipment can help ease your mind. Most shipping companies offer real-time tracking services. You can see where your artwork is at any moment, like watching your child at a playground from afar.
  • Insuring Your Shipment: In the world of international art shipping for sculptors and installation artists, insurance is a must-have. Even with the best shipping company, things can go wrong. Insurance is like an invisibility cloak for your artwork—it can't prevent things from happening, but it can make the consequences disappear. Whether it's damage, loss, or theft, insurance can cover the costs. Remember to insure your art based on its valuation, not its weight or size.

Tracking and insuring your shipment are key steps to ensure peace of mind. It's like leaving your house with your doors locked and security system activated—you know you've done all you can to protect what's important to you. Now, your work of art is ready for its international journey!

Unpack and check the condition of your art

Alright, here we are. Your artwork has completed its international journey and it's time for the big reveal. It's a moment that can be both exciting and nerve-wracking, like opening a present you've been waiting for. Here's how to go about it:

  • Unpacking: When unpacking your art, be gentle. It's not a race. Treat it like you're handling a sleeping baby. Try using soft gloves to avoid leaving fingerprints or accidentally scratching the surface. If the artwork is a sculpture or installation piece, you might need some tools to unpack it. Always remember, slow and steady wins the race.
  • Checking Condition: After you've successfully unpacked your art, the next step in the process of international art shipping for sculptors and installation artists is to check its condition. Look for any signs of damage. Is the color as vibrant as you remember? Are there any unexpected scratches or dents? This step is like playing detective—you're looking for clues of any mishandling during transit.

Unpacking and checking the condition of your art are vital steps in the process. It's like when you buy a new gadget and inspect it thoroughly to make sure it's in perfect condition. Once you've done this, you're one step closer to presenting your masterpiece to the world!

Prepare for installation

Now that your artwork's arrived safe and sound, it's time to roll up your sleeves and get ready for the next exciting phase: installation. Think of it as setting up your new home: you wouldn't just throw your furniture around, would you? No, you'd plan where each piece goes to create a harmonious space. Here's what you need to do:

  • Site Survey: First, get to know the space where you'll be installing your artwork. Look at the size, lighting, and overall layout. It's like scoping out the best spot at a picnic: you want the perfect place where everyone can enjoy your art.
  • Equipment Check: Next, make sure you have all the necessary tools and hardware for the installation. This could include things like drills, screws, or special hanging apparatus. Think of it as a chef preparing for a big meal: you need to have all your ingredients ready before you start cooking.
  • Plan Your Approach: Lastly, you'll need a clear plan of action. This might involve sketching a layout or marking positions on the wall. Like a roadmap, this plan will guide you through the installation process, ensuring your artwork ends up exactly where you want it to be.

Preparing for installation isn't just about getting your tools ready—it's also about understanding the space, planning your approach, and being ready to adapt. Just like a great dinner party, the success of your art installation depends on good preparation. So, take a deep breath, and let's get your artwork installed!

Install your artwork

With your plan of action and tools ready, it's time to bring your artwork to life in its new space. It's like the exciting moment when you plant a seed in a garden — you can't wait to see it grow and bloom. Here's how to make sure your installation goes smoothly:

  • Follow Your Plan: Remember the roadmap you made during the preparation stage? Now, it's time to follow it. Use the markers you've placed as guides. It's like following a treasure map: X marks the spot where your artwork will shine.
  • Handle with Care: This goes without saying, but always handle your artwork with care during installation. Think of it as handling a newborn baby: delicate and priceless. And remember, safety comes first — both for you and the artwork.
  • Take Your Time: Installation isn't a race. It's more like a leisurely stroll in the park. Take your time to make sure everything is just right. If something doesn't feel right, step back and reassess. Patience is your best friend here.

Congratulations! You've now installed your artwork in its new international home. But hold on, we're not done yet. Just like a good gardener who doesn't leave after planting the seeds, there's more to do after the installation. So, sit back, relax, and let's move on to the next steps in your international art shipping for sculptors and installation artists journey.

How to handle installation issues

Even the best-laid plans can encounter hiccups. But don't worry, it's all part of the adventure of international art shipping for sculptors and installation artists. Getting flustered is like forgetting your umbrella on a rainy day — it doesn't help and you'll just get wet. Instead, remain calm and tackle these challenges head-on. Here's how:

  • Assess the Situation: Is your artwork not fitting quite right? Or perhaps the lighting isn't showcasing your sculpture as you envisioned? It's okay. These things happen. The key is to take a step back, assess the situation, and then decide your next steps.
  • Improvise: This is where your creativity as an artist comes into play. There might be times when you need to think on your feet and come up with a quick solution. It's like when you run out of blue paint and mix your own. Improvising is a valuable skill that can save the day.
  • Ask for Help: It's okay to ask for assistance. You're not Superman, and you don't need to be. Reach out to the local staff or even other artists in the area. You'd be surprised how willing people are to lend a helping hand. Remember, asking for help isn't a sign of weakness, but a symbol of strength and wisdom.

Overcoming these obstacles is just another part of your international art shipping for sculptors and installation artists journey. Each challenge is an opportunity to learn and grow. So, don't see them as roadblocks, but as stepping stones to your success.

Maintain and care for your installed art

Once your masterpiece is on display, the job isn't over. As with all things, time can leave its mark. But don't fret, with a little maintenance, your artwork can shine as brightly as the day it was installed. Here's your guide to maintaining and caring for your internationally shipped and installed art:

  • Regular Cleaning: Dust and dirt are like uninvited guests at a party. They just show up without notice. A regular cleaning schedule for your artwork keeps these pesky party-crashers at bay. But remember, always use art-safe cleaning materials. The last thing you want is to damage your own creation!
  • Monitor Environment: Changes in temperature and humidity can be like kryptonite to your artwork. Keep an eye on these factors and make sure they remain within acceptable limits. It's like taking care of a plant — you wouldn't leave it in the scorching sun, would you?
  • Inspect Regularly: Just as you would with your own health, regular check-ups are important for your artwork. Look for signs of wear and tear, and address them promptly. Think of it as giving your artwork a little TLC.

By giving your art the care it deserves, you not only ensure its longevity but also its impact. After all, what's the point of international art shipping for sculptors and installation artists if the art doesn't continue to inspire for years to come?

If you're an artist looking to enhance your skills in creating and shipping your artwork internationally, don't miss out on the workshop titled 'Sculpt 3D Objects in VR!' by tabithaswanson_. This innovative workshop will teach you how to create stunning 3D sculptures in virtual reality, while also providing valuable tips on how to ship and install your art pieces internationally. Take your art to new heights and reach a global audience with the help of this amazing workshop!