Thursday, February 7, 2008

Print Bins

Every artist, especially traveling artists need them. Print bins, display cases, print racks. Whatever you call them isn’t as important as having them and using them correctly. Artists with different medias other than “flat” prints, require different ways to hold and display their works, but because I am a 2 D artist that sells both framed and matted prints, I’ll concentrate this post on that.

The different ways that prints can be displayed for your customers to “browse” is varied. I’ve seen artists do every thing from stacking matted prints flat on a table in their booth almost like large playing cards. The rustic look of wooden crates might work depending on the style of art you sell and the way your booth is decorated, but if not thought out, this look can resemble a flea market, offering little or no value to your art.

Plastic bins work for some, especially if there is a uniform look to all of the containers, but I’ve done shows where in the rules, it is spelled out that “no plastic print holders will be allowed.”

If most of your work is framed and hung on your walls, a very professional and efficient look is to have your loose prints matted and bagged in a clear glassine envelope and displayed in folding print racks. These racks come in various shapes and sizes. Some are made of wood while others are aluminum and cloth. Either way, the potential buyers are able to “flip” through your pieces. These type racks usually sit on the floor/grass and have an unobtrusive look to them.

My problem has always been, how to manage over 200 different images, in 4 different sizes and still have a booth that is attractive and efficient to shop in. I’ve tried many different set ups in the past but this year I will be debuting a new system that I think will solve many of the problems I encountered.

I’ve researched the web using every conceivable name for print bins as I could think of and Google has returned thousands of sites for me to look at, but none have even come close to what I want. I need space to carry 300-400 matted prints, plus a variety of metal and glass frames. At first I was thinking that I would need many different cases to store the prints in because weight would be an issue and my back isn’t getting any younger or stronger.

These containers need to be strong and tough enough to stand up to unloading and re-loading into my trailer 30 or so times each year. I’ve seen carpeted bins on wheels before but each time I asked the artist where they got theirs, the answer was always the same. I made them or I had someone make them for me.

Well, I finally decided to build my own. I’m in the process of building 3 bins each 60” wide by 20” deep and without the wheels they are 28” tall. I am mounting these cases on 6” pneumatic wheels that will allow me to roll these print bins over uneven ground as well as flat floors for indoor shows. Each will be set up to hold different sized pieces of art and will act as the base for my browse bin that will sit on top of each case. These top bins are where my customers will actually “flip” through my prints.

I use 12 different wooden bins for this purpose. They are slightly wider at their top and taper down at their bottom, which allows me to stack them into each other for traveling.

I’ve installed doors on the front of each rolling bin, which will both hide and prevent stock from falling out during transit. Each of the cases has a horizontal shelf dividing it’s top from the bottom which enables me to stack matted prints on end. The placement of this shelf is different in each case allowing storage for the 4 different sizes I carry.

I’m undecided on what type of covering to use on the box exterior. The others I’ve seen were done in indoor-outdoor carpet in a dark grey color. My browse bins on top are made of a nice looking Baltic birch wood stained in a rich maple shade so I’m leaning toward this look although it will require me to be much more careful moving the cases into and out of my trailer.

Carpet might be a wise compromise in this decision because I’m always tired and in a hurry during break down and I can’t see myself being that careful every time I move these cases. I’ll keep you posted on what I decide and will put up some photos of my finished project.

Once done, I envision my set up time for each show to greatly decrease and offer a much more professional look to my booth.

Stay tuned.

2 comments: said...

Thanks for the post. I am trying to figure out how to display my prints and have just about decided to build my own. I would love to see what you do.


Dennis Brady said...

Hi Dawn,

Sorry for the delay on your comment (see my most current post entitled "I'm trying") I'll try and dig up some photos of the bins I built but unfortunately, I no longer use them. I found them way too heavy to load and unload into my trailer when they were fully loaded with my framed art. I am going to a series of 5 Pro Panel print bins for 2009. I'll need to carry the art in my old plastic bins and then transfer to the Pro Panel bins (pain in the butt) but this option should give me the best versatility for different display configurations.