How to Move and Stay Semi-Organized

My illustration for this week, Jellyfish.
© Michelle Lockamy

Planning to move, or in the process of moving? There are some things you artists need to know about storing your precious cargo. That goes for the standard supplies, all the way to your pets.

My family moved into a bigger, better home this week. But we spent over a month going back and forth in the car with all of our stuff, only to get the truck on the last day for the furniture. I'll share some tips with you that I learned from this experience.

1. Get help from people, but only in the last 1-3 days.

It's worth it to just move boxes back and forth between point A and B if you're going to point B anyway. Lots of buyers get estimates, housework, and even grocery shopping done before they are ever officially moved in. During this time, bring what you can so that you have less to worry about later.

If you're like me, you aren't able to lift a couch, let alone get it into your car. Invite some relatives and friends down to ease the burden of moving furniture, towards the end of the process. Know someone with access to a truck? Take advantage of that! My dad borrowed a company truck, and my aunt and uncle brought their van. Both parties were an awesome help. It also made for a better experience (what with the pizza afterwards, and all).

2. Make lists.

Face it, you are bound to lose stuff. Make a few lists, by category, of at least the essentials. And label the boxes to preserve your sanity. This should help you keep all your stuff under wraps. Don't forget your chargers, your toothbrush, your kidneys, etc.

3. Art stuff must be handled with care. 

You may know this, but you better make your family and friends understand this too. No move is successful without safe transportation of your lifeblood, right? I have broken down a list of the biggest things you'll want to safeguard on your perilous journey.

  • Paintings: Don't stuff your paintings into the car unprotected. Canvas can be bent if a solid object is pressed into it (this especially goes for large paintings around cardboard boxes). Try your best to place them on top of heavy cargo, and if you're on a budget, shield them from rain with plastic shopping bags. Also make sure not to expose them to intense temperatures, since this can crack paint, particularly oil-based ones. In my case, this meant keeping my work downstairs out of the oven-like second floor.
  • Brush cleaner: Come on, there is no reason to throw it out just because you're moving! Brush cleaner must be stored properly. I can't express to you how frustrating it is to get to my turpenoid container, only to find that it has dribbled onto everything it came into contact with. If you store yours in a jar, put that jar in a plastic bag. Be prepared for a messy bag, though. For your best bet, ask your local art shop if they have a specialized container. You may even find one at a hardware store, if you really want to get fancy about it.
  • Brushes: This is a biggy. I don't know about you, but my collection always gets scattered in the melee of boxes and bags. For the love of all that is good in this world, keep your brushes together! Use rubber bands, towels, and anything else you can think of to do the job, but remember to keep the bristles straight and unharmed. Don't try and transport your brushes in water or brush cleaner either; this could get messy real fast.
  • Drawing tablet: Keep it with your computer. It might be your baby, but it's safer in a padded carrying case than in the front seat.
  • Misc supplies, props, & costumes: This might just make me look like a goof, but I'm the kind of pack rat that keeps clothes for paintings. I also keep antiques and various objects that inspire me when I paint. If you are an artist of this variety, take care to wrap your fragile stuff in newspaper or magazines. If most of it looks like junk to others, stash it in a box labeled "creative juice source," or something else like that. A box (or ten) of this ilk should be transported to point B as soon as possible to prevent any helpers from criticizing your pack-rat-iness, and subsequently sabotaging your operation.

4. Pets need care.

Say what you want, but pets also need to be handled in specific ways during a big move. I have a parakeet, a small dog, a large rabbit, and a fish. Take it from me that if your little friends are going along for the car ride, keep their cages/tanks as solidly placed as possible. Bring toys with you to help them feel better. If going for a longer ride, put their food in plastic baggies, and bring bottles of water (we kept little Charlie in one for the ride). Finally, once in the new place, give them ample time to warm up to it.


5. Clean up isn't that bad.

The people after you do not want to see splattered paint, melted crayons, your sock collection, or the 3-week-old oatmeal in your sink. Get some baking soda and water for the heavy duty cleaning. They make sprays that clean the oven, so breathe a sigh of relief! We used Easy Off, which we left on overnight and came back the next day to find that after swiping it with a paper towel, the oven top was pristine. Remember not to inhale too many fumes from the chemicals though!


What are some things that you've misplaced while you've moved, and did you ever find them? Leave a comment below! I'm always glad to hear feedback.