I frequently receive emails from artists asking about the best way to safely and effectively store artwork in their studios. To some extent, this is a question every artist has to deal with at some point. Every piece of completed art has to go somewhere.
I argue that the best place to store art is on a gallery wall while the gallery is working to sell the art or in a collector’s home after it has sold. However, the reality is that no matter how actively you are showing and selling your art, you are likely to have some inventory waiting in your studio to go out or work that has already shown coming back to the studio before going back out to another venue. If you aren’t yet showing in galleries, you may have inventory building up as you work to attain representation.
Let’s look at some best practices for storing artwork safely and effectively in your studio. Whether you are a seasoned artist with a vast collection of completed work or a newcomer just starting out, it is important to know how to properly store your artwork to preserve its quality and longevity. We will cover everything from choosing the right storage materials to creating an ideal storage environment to ensure your artwork remains in pristine condition until it is displayed or sold. So, let’s dive in and explore some of the best ways to store your artwork.
So, how can you safely store your paintings in your studio? Here are some tips:
- Store your paintings vertically: Storing your paintings vertically is the safest way to protect them from damage. This is because the weight of the canvas and the paint will be evenly distributed, preventing any cracks or warping. If you don’t have enough wall space, consider using vertical storage racks or shelves.
- If you decide to use storage racks to store your paintings vertically, make sure to choose ones that will adequately protect your art. Look for storage racks that are sturdy, have adjustable shelves to accommodate different sizes of paintings, and have padding to protect the edges of your artwork. Additionally, make sure that the racks are secured to prevent any accidental tipping.
- Keep your paintings away from direct sunlight: Direct sunlight can cause fading and discoloration of your artwork over time. Therefore, it’s important to store your paintings away from windows or direct sunlight.
- Maintain consistent temperature and humidity levels: Fluctuations in temperature and humidity can cause damage to your paintings, so it’s important to maintain consistent levels. Ideally, you should aim for a temperature between 60-75°F and a relative humidity between 40-60%.
- Use acid-free materials: When wrapping or packing your paintings for storage, use acid-free materials to prevent any damage or deterioration. Acid-free tissue paper, bubble wrap, and cardboard are readily available and affordable.
- Label and document: It’s important to label and document each painting to keep track of your inventory. This will also make it easier to locate a particular piece when it’s time to exhibit or sell it.
- Keep pests away: Pests such as insects and rodents can cause damage to your paintings, so make sure your studio is free from infestations. Store your paintings in sealed containers or cover them with a sheet or cloth to keep pests away.
- Consider professional storage: If you have a large collection of paintings or if you’re planning on storing your paintings for an extended period, it may be worth considering professional storage. Professional storage facilities offer climate-controlled environments and specialized equipment to ensure the safety and protection of your artwork.
Do you have any additional tips for storing artwork that you’ve found to be effective? Have you ever experienced damage to your artwork due to improper storage? What steps have you taken to prevent it from happening again? What challenges have you faced when it comes to storing artwork, and how have you overcome them? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Good article Jason. When I moved into my new studio, I was looking for a way to store my paintings so they didn’t take up much space. I have 12 foot ceilings and I had the maintenance man in our building build a large, 4-5 foot deep shelf across an entire wall (20 feet) six feet above the floor. He hung the shelf with metal bars screwed into the ceiling joists (It’s an old factory building). The shelf is strong enough to walk on! Once in place, I covered the floor of the shelf with carpeting and a colleague helped me construct a way to keep the work vertical. Every two inches across the front end of the shelf, we screwed in three screws in a triangular configuration but not fully screwed in. We also placed a board horizontally on the wall to the back of the shelf about 2 to 3 feet up and did the same screw configuration. We then used 1/4 inch white rope and ran it from a screw set on the back wall to the screws on the shelf front, across to the next set, and back up to the back board. We did so across the entire length of the shelf. This gives me 2 inch wide slots to slide my work vertically into. Once strung, the screws were tightened to give tension to the rope separators. Should one loosen, I just tighten the screwed on the shelf front some more. An inexpensive solution to getting a lot of vertical storage! You can see the system at https://www.dsimoneau.com/about-dan-simoneau/my-art-studio-and-gallery/#gallery/8ddc11101a1be1c660797156ebb417e8/536 and https://www.dsimoneau.com/about-dan-simoneau/my-art-studio-and-gallery/#gallery/8ddc11101a1be1c660797156ebb417e8/537
I’ve stored my drawings in a large UPS box or two. Also, those Itoya folders are great for smaller drawings. Or super large drawings, the box the art paper arrives in, works great.