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News — Humidity control for art

Proper Storage of Artwork and Limited Edition Posters

Proper Storage of Artwork and Limited Edition Posters

When buying limited edition concert posters, movie posters or art prints one of the biggest things to look out for is how the seller stores their artwork.  There's a lot of different opinions out there on how to best store art however one thing all collectors agree on is flat storage.  We've outlined some of the most important factors to keep in mind when storing a piece of art and a few tools to help you keep your work safe for years to come. 

  • FLAT STORAGE - When ordering limited edition posters and artwork it commonly arrives rolled in a tube.  Make sure to unroll your poster and keep it stored flat, not rolled up in the tube for long term storage.  Tubes are a great way to protect your posters for shipping or short term storage.  Keeping a poster rolled up long term can cause damage to the ink and will also make it incredibly difficult to unroll when it comes time to framing.   Once your work is flattened out and ready to store we recommend putting it in a flat file, presentation binder or portfolio.  We use all of the above however the majority of our collection is stored in mylar sleeves, inside of flat files.  
  • TEMPERATURE CONTROL - Do not store your posters or artwork in extreme heat or cold.  This means no, to places like unfinished basements or garages.  The big killer when it comes to temperature is fluctuation.  You don't want temperatures drastically different over the course of 24 hours.  Keep a nice cool temp, we store all of our artwork 65-70 degrees Fahrenheit year round. 
  • HUMIDITY CONTROL - One of the most overlooked factors or properly storing artwork is humidity control.  If you've ever been to an estate sale or auction you'll find a lot of collections in the basement due to storage and space constraints.  We advise against basements as their prone to flooding and have very high humidity levels.  Make sure that you store your your collection away from windows, doors, vents, ceiling fans and exterior walls, elevated off the ground and in relatively low humidity.  High humidity can cause mold damage and excessive fluctuations in humidity can cause cracking in the paints/ink.  We store our collection at 45-50% RH.  Above 70% RH you will see growth of mold and bacteria.  Let your newly shipped artwork sit a day or two before opening so it can acclimate to the humidity.  You can find a good quality dehumidifier from Home Depot for around $200 and it will protect your collection on those rainy days.  
  • SMOKE - This one is a no-brainer but often overlooked when buying a cheap print on eBay or Craigslist, smoke can cause a lot of damage to posters and prints.  Amateur and casual collectors won't think about the damage smoke can cause to posters or artwork but over time you'll notice major discoloration to the paper and ink.  Our posters are all stored in a 100% smoke free environment.  This includes ALL types of smoke such as cigarettes, pot, incense, cooking etc...
  • CLEAN - Make sure when storing your artwork to keep it in a clean area free of dirt and dust.  A garage and or basement are areas that have lots of dust and dirt.  Not only can the dust and dirt particles rub off on your posters in storage, it can get on your hands and clothes which will end up on your artwork when handling.  Replace the filter in your HVAC unit every 4-6 weeks and for best results run an air purifier as well.  For very expensive archival pieces a pair of white cotton gloves are best to avoid transferring oil, dirt and fingerprints.  If you're not willing to go that far, a good hand washing will go a long way.
  • FLAT FILE - Flat files are a great way to store a large volume of work.  Flat files are large cabinets capable of, you guessed it, storing things flat! Check out your local Craigslist or Offer Up listings for good quality flat files.
  • MYLAR - When storing valuable artwork long term mylar is the way to go.  Mylar sleeves can be readily found online and are a great way to preserve your favorite prints for years to come.  While a bit pricey, you'll be taking the same precaution as the high end collectors and museums.  A great resource for mylar bags: Bags Unlimited
  • ACID FREE - Anytime you're framing or storing prints make sure to choose acid free materials.  An acid free tape or acid free backboard will insure you do not have acid from the mat board bleed through and stain your artwork.  If you're in our hometown of Chicago, IL we recommend Jackson Junge for all of your framing needs.  They also have an amazing gallery of original contemporary and modern art work. 

Remember, you don't have to buy from us but make sure you buy from a seller that properly stores their work!