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  • aliciafaciane

Art on the Road: the good, the bad, and the BUMPY!

Since I've moved into an RV and no longer have a kiln of my own I started firing my work with local community centers. This has been a wonderful thing... mostly. Connecting with communities and supporting these art centers while still being able to create on the road feels amazing! It's exactly what I was hoping for in making my artwork on the road and making connections in communities in which I'm traveling. Kilns are out there!

Notably, it does take time to set up these firings, which means trying to contact a location before I'm there. This can get a little tricky with route planning. Sometimes this works out, sometimes not. I will say that to date, art centers have been easier to work with than working with individual artists. Getting to work with independent artists has been much harder than anticipated. I've been contacting many artists initially through their website but sadly don't get many replies. This has opened my eyes to the lack of good ways to reach and communicate with many artists. Don't get me wrong, there are artists who are very responsive, but mostly I've been finding the ones that rarely check their website or email. I'm not sure if this is just bad luck or timing. While it's no new discovery that many artists beat to their own drum, it just kinda seems like many beat to their own clock as well and that makes it really challenging to work with them.

The ceramic pieces have been traveling pretty well in the RV minus the valuable space they take up, the shipping on the other hand has been horrible!

There is no nicer way to say it, shipping artwork sucks!

Recently I shipped a consignment order to a museum that carries my work back in Louisiana. After a few days my order arrived with 4 pieces damaged. What could survive one month of traveling in an RV could not survive two days with the postal service. And YES, it was really well packed! Bummer, but I'd bought insurance so I wasn't super bummed. Enter USPS, the bummer delivery service. They informed me that my claim was denied. Why? Insufficient proof of value.

OK, I get it, they need proof! Afterall, these are consignment pieces not pieces with receipt of sales attached. So I filled out ALL the paperwork (there was a ton) and gave them documentation of the worth of my work.

For most claims a picture of broken pieces would suffice but not for the USPS!

They requested that the museum bring them evidence of the damaged goods. Thankfully the museum is wonderful and complied with this request. The museum cares and is really trying to help me with this overly complex process of jumping through hoops to validate my claim. The post office kept the shards of my artwork, the box it was shipped in and the packaging. Oddly they will reimburse the museum and not me solidifying that even with all of the explanation about consignment artwork, they have no clue what consignment means.

Just to be clear, consignment means that the work is on display to be sold and once sold the percentages of sales will be split according to contract between the business and artist.

Not only is the USPS requesting an insane amount of documentation for this claim but they want it in a very quick response time. The problem is that in response to digital claims they send a physical mailed response. Why would you send a mail response to a digital claim?!? The postal service is even taking the time it takes for them to deliver their response mail out of the allowed response time. So if it takes them longer to deliver the mail, that's less time for me to respond to the snail mail, but digitally . . . Groans!

End of Rant.

Two things have happened as a result of this unfortunate event. One, I will no longer be using USPS and their "insurance" for shipping artwork. Two, I'm changing my artwork on the road. Much of the work I'm putting out into the world is on consignment and I do not believe USPS is unique in its inability to understand the cost of a consignment item versus a sold retail item.

So if you want a robot, go to The Hilliard Art museum in Lafayette, Louisiana. They have the last robot tumblers and mugs I will make for some time. I'll make more functional forms one day, but not while on the road. I just can't stand to see any more of these robots in ruins. They were meant to be drinking buddies, not broken shards.

And if you are wondering, why robots? Check out My Robots from their Beginning

Honestly, I knew my clay work would need to change on the road. I was thinking the cumbersome nature of carrying ceramic items with their size and weight or the lack of space to make using clay would be the cause of this shift. Turns out it was shipping breakable items without the assurance of being able to use insurance that is the untenable situation causing this creator to change course.

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