Dear Allyson,

I need advice about a piece I plan to do on a big piece on paper. I will need to protect the art behind glass and will need a big frame. I travel out of state  to show my art and I’m afraid the artwork won’t fit in my car, on a bus or train.

Also, do you have any advice about a cheap way to transport a large piece to Art showings? Who does this?


Dear Baruska,

First of all, framing paper art:

Framing paper art is an essential investment for artists that take their work seriously and intend to actively pursue exhibiting and attracting collectors.

To make art on paper that endures, use archival paper — 100% rag content.
Paper art must be framed to kept the art dust and moisture free.
When framing art on paper, larger sizes need plexiglass rather than glass.
Use archival backing and matt board.
Frame with the glass/plexiglass lifted off (not pressing against) the artwork. The art surface will eventually stick to the clear surface.
To separate the paper art from the glass/plexi, use a matt or an invisible spacer bar that is hidden under the edge between the frame and the backing.
The art must be attached to the backing with archival tape.
A professional framer will know all of these essential parameters.

To save money on framing, first find a good ready made frame and pre-cut matte, before embarking on executing the artwork. Make the art fit the frame or matte window. There is a great selection of ready-made frames and mattes.

Framing chains like A.C. Moore or Michael’s Art Supply Stores do not offer plexi OR glass greater than 48″ in either dimension. Framing can be expensive and these chains offer huge discounts on custom framing a couple of times a year (before Christmas and Mother’s Day?). These stores want to have your address on their mailing list and 70% discount specials are worth giving them your address.

Shipping and moving art:

Next time you purchase a car, be sure a 4 x 8 foot board fits in the back.
Art shippers are a must with valuable art.
Be sure the art is insured (and guarded) when it is moved and at the final destination.
Art can be shipped in a Fed Ex box. Check the insurance limit and be prepared to lose the art for that price. We have never lost a piece shipped via Fed Ex.
Working a manageable size until moving and storage is not a problem is a viable option. Bigger is not necessarily better.

To work larger, consider experimenting with oils or acrylic on canvas or board. Some of Alex’s best-loved works (Theologue, Net of Being, Journey of the Wounded Healer…) have collapsible stretchers that were custom made. They still would not fit in the back of a station wagon that accepts a 4 x 8 foot sheet.

Truck day-rentals are less money than you might think and it can be worth it.

Congratulations on your ambitious work and success in exhibiting your art.