Cutting corners

God dammit,” I said as soon as I opened the mailing tube.

Poor Thomas didn’t know what to do — just a second ago I was delighted that he had delivered the mailer right to my desk, and now here I was swearing at him. At work.

It wasn’t his fault, I explained as I unfurled the print I had ordered from Public School, an Austin-based group of graphic artists. Part of a series they call “Keep These In Mind,” it says: “Fridays are a good day to sit in the corner or a bar and think about what you’ve done.” (You can click on the thumbnail at right to see the designed version in a larger frame.) I was all excited for it to arrive, and the first thing I saw when I opened the tube was the print’s crushed edges (above) and corners (below).

Now, I know: I paid a whopping $15 for this print, and only $5.75 to ship it. It’s not a priceless piece of artwork, and thanks to the generous amount of negative space around the words, I can probably have the framers mat around the flaws so nobody’s the wiser when they look at it. Heck, for a while, I was even trying to justify it to myself: “Oh, it’s an intrinsic part of the unique printmaking process—it shows that human hands have touched it! It’s weathered, like a patina!” Which of course is bullshit that even my powers of self-delusion couldn’t stomach.

I don’t think it would have bothered me as much if the same thing hadn’t happened on another print I had ordered from Sharing Machine a few months earlier. “Miss Knickers’ Garden of Delights,” is a re-creation of a brothel menu featuring such (fake?) positions as Chimney Sweep (and Full Chimney Sweep), The Tiger’s Hungry Maw and Reverse French Bulldog. I was thinking it’d be funny to have in the hallway, before you hit the bedrooms.

That one showed up scarred, too — in its case, the crease extends into the printed area, so I can either crop the edges of the artwork about how I did in the screen grab above (actual framing shown here), or say “the hell with it,” take it to the framer and hope for the best … and then curse the person who prepared the print for shipping every time I walk by the finished product, because creases like that catch the light, especially against an otherwise completely flat black background.

Here’s how you prepare a print for shipping: Furl it up inside a larger piece of sturdy paper whose sole job it is to cushion the blows of handling. That’s how my serigraph of  “The Smiling Widow” by Shag arrived. And Austin Kleon similarly cushioned his “How It Works” print against sturdy oversize stock. Add another $2 onto the price of the order if you have to, because it’s not giving a good impression of your company’s foresight when pieces arrive damaged. (Sure, it’s not failsafe, but at least it helps us know you tried.)

Up next is a courtesy e-mail to Public School to let them know their stuff arrived in less-than-great condition. I’ll update if I hear back from them. They replied the next day and offered me a new print. (I thanked them for the offer and the speedy response but said it was salvageable as is. I don’t think I’m game to hope the next one arrives in better shape.)

WHAT SAM WORE: 6-14-11
The shirt: Dress shirt by Versace Collection,
which Mr. Brooks picked up at Last Chance.
The pants: My amazing trousers from Ted Baker.
The shoes: Loafers by Rush Gordon Rush, also from Last Chance.
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