I came across this article in Popular Mechanics a while back about which carrier is the kindest to your packages. No surprise for me: USPS.
In fact I have been using USPS to ship my artwork for over a decade and have never had any issues at all. FedEx and UPS on the other hand? Don’t get me started on the horror stories! People always think I’m weird shipping USPS for art, but I guess there’s just a stigma or assumption attached that if you don’t pay the money for one of the other carriers, then bad things will happen. Bad things happen to packages no matter who you use. In the years I’ve used USPS, my work has never been damaged, it arrives early, it’s cheaper, and it gets through customs to places like Canada and Australia in no time. Not so with UPS, where packages will get held for weeks sometimes! For real, anytime someone tells me they sent me something by UPS or FedEx I want to shake them furiously and scream, “why would you do such a thing!”
On the plus side, I have a husband who spent many years working in logistics; I learned early about all of this stuff and he warned me that this statement is all too true…
One disheartening result was that our package received more abuse when marked “Fragile” or “This Side Up.” The carriers flipped the package more, and it registered above-average acceleration spikes during trips for which we requested careful treatment.
Putting those labels on is like an invitation for them to play catch with your packages. Yep, they all do it on purpose. Insurance is sort of a scam in these situations, in that they will only reimburse you for what it cost to make the art. But as long as you have tracking and delivery confirmation, I don’t know what else you possibly need. The only downside of USPS is the size limitation. I work small, so this isn’t an issue for me, but if your package is rather large, then you have no choice but to use FedEx or UPS among other independent carriers who specialize in art transport.
Now a question for you all: Who do you use to ship artwork back and forth from the US to Europe? And how long does it take? I’ve been surprised how fast things seem to get to Australia just by USPS, but I hear stories of shipping work to England taking forever. Using an actual art crating company also means it will sit at customs forever — something to factor in. I’ll be shipping to Germany and England this spring, so this gal needs a heads-up!