Two pieces of good news: I received my artist contract for 'Passing Through' which is going on its own little adventure to Boston and is going to set the mood in the lobby of a luxury condo complex. I also heard back from the Boston Long Wharf Marriott project, and I just sent hi-res images for test prints for 400 guest rooms. Both 'Sway' and 'I See a Square' were sent. It has been an awesome week so far :D There was a lot that I had to figure out the past couple of days. I've never had to package my art a certain way nor have I shipped a piece of artwork to another country before so I had to figure out logistics of sending such a huge piece (4x6ft) stateside. Here are a few challenges I faced:
1. Un-stretching the canvas: it would cost far less to send the painting rolled in a tube as opposed to stretched on bars so I had to un-stretch the piece. The quality of the canvas was amazing so to take it off the bars was a 1000 calorie per hour workout. Firstly, I didn't have the right tool and being in Dubai, it was difficult for me to find something affordable that would remove upholstery staples. I discovered this amazing hardware store in DIP called Speedex. It must have been a 30,000 sqft store hidden in the area. I bought the tool for 7 dirhams and rushed back to the studio to begin. It took me around 2 hours to get all the stapes out since I had to do it manually and there wasn't a power tool I could find.
2. Lining the canvas to protect the surface: Plastic and a lot of paper have acid in them and if you cover a canvas with material that contain this acid, the piece can yellow over a period of time. There's a specific kind of acid-free paper that artists use to package their work for shipping or storage, which of course isn't available in the UAE. Since this would be a short trip (2 days as stated by FedEx), I decided to use what was available to me in that size.
3. Finding the actual mailing tube: I couldn't imagine that you couldn't find a store with mailing tubes in those sizes anywhere in the city!! I went to a whole bunch of places and even checked online but the only tubes available were drafting tubes which had a much smaller diameter and were shorter in height than what was required. After running around, I arrived at this tiny place that sold packaging supplies. The guy felt really bad for me I suppose so he dug through his garbage and found a tube, which was 58 inches tall and had a 3.5" diameter. I bought the covers (which luckily fit the tube). Apparently, its a standard size so if you're ever looking for covers of a larger diameter or smaller, you won't find them in the city.
4. Not being able to bubble wrap the piece: I secured the painting by lining it with the plastic and then rolled it around a long cardboard tube I took from inside a roll of bubble wrap, and then taped the plastic overlay with masking tape. When I tried to put a single layer of bubblewrap over the piece, it wouldn't fit in the tube! So I had to remove the bubble wrap and slide the piece into the tube directly.
5. Usually, when you mail paintings in a tube, a lot of people suggest that you double the tube and slide the current tube into a larger tube for extra protection. But there is a real dearth of these tubes in the country. I even sent out emails to manufacturers in Al Ain asking them where I could buy them in retail but haven't heard anything as yet.
6. Another thing I learned was how to photograph my artwork for prints, which was awesome. I invested in a DSLR camera as a couple of years ago with the intention of using it for photographing my artwork. I never made prints nor have I really sold any work since so it was amazing to finally whip it out and put it to work. I bought these super cool daylight lamps from Creative Minds in Al Barsha, which allow me to paint at night in my dimly lit studio so I placed the lights at a 45 degree angle on either side of my drawing (which I taped to the wall using masking tape). This allowed the light to be evenly distributed and avoided one side being darker than the other. There was also no glare on the piece.
As frustrating as it was to run around looking for these supplies, and finding out that there are so many things that just aren't available in this country, it was an amazing learning experience. The first time is always difficult but the more you do it, the easier it gets. Priority number 1 is to stock up on shipping supplies which I will order online and have shipped here.
I pitched another 2 paintings to this super cool project titled Luxury Suites on Indiewalls. Here are the pieces and this is what they look like photoshopped into spaces.