Tuesday 3 September 2013


Earlier this year I had some portraits commissioned by clients in Singapore.  The first picture was shipped out in early March.   I used a company called Parcel Hero who are intermediaries.  Their site is user friendly and their quote was very competitive.      They use mainstream shippers like UPS and DHL.

I was thrilled that the portrait arrived safely within 4 days of despatch.   

Any of you who make overseas shipments will be aware that carriers use a 'volumetric' weight calculation ... not the actual weight of the parcel.  The volumetric weight is based on the parcel's dimensions and the weight.      

My first parcel contained just one portrait (unframed) and the dimensions were 55 x 43 x 4 cm  ie a fairly flat pack.   The quoted price was £34 which I happily paid.

Several weeks later I received an email from Parcel Hero stating that I'd misquoted the dimensions and therefore the revised quote was £91 and the balance would be taken from my card.     I was on holiday at the time and spent several days making phone calls and sending emails contesting this.      Parcel Hero's customer service is abysmal.    They said they'd respond within 4 days and didn't.   When chased they said only one person could deal with complaints and he was sick or on holidays.  

It transpired that the carriers used by Parcel Hero had recorded the package dimensions as 40cm (instead of 4cm wide) so they may have measured in mm and wrongly noted as cm or something like that.   BUT Parcel Hero still said I had to pay the extra unless I provided the original packaging and photos of the packaging taken next to tape measure and on scales etc.        I pointed out that the packing had been delivered to Singapore 2 months prior and had been destroyed although my client was willing to confirm I'd only sent a portrait of the dog, not the labrador itself in a huge box!!

To cut a very long story short (as this has been going on for months)  ..... I have today received a confirmation from Parcel Hero that I will not be charged any extra money.   6 months after the original shipment!!

Ironically, before this dispute over the shipping rate I'd recommended the service to other artists and when they used Parcel Hero I was awarded credits on my account with them.   So I did use Parcel Hero to ship the last 3 portraits to Singapore and Scotland and, again, the shipment was fast and efficient.  

BUT this time I photographed the boxes first with tape measure and weighing scales so in case of future disputes I have documentary evidence to produce.

I think its a good habit to get into anyway ... so if you use couriers for your commission shipments I'd recommend you do the same thing.   Better safe than sorry!

I've had a busy weekend at the Bowls club.   I'd made it through to the Finals and played my match on Sunday morning.     Despite all my fears about making a fool of myself I did pretty well and it was neck and neck to the last 'end' where I lost the match to a Senior player.   I was very pleased with my game so ended my season on a bit of a high, even if I didn't win the Cup (perhaps that wouldn't have been appropriate in my first year anyway) LOL

I've done no more work on my Gorilla drawing but he is sitting in the corner of the studio watching everything I do.  He'll be back on the drawing board when I'm home from Fuerte.

As part of my 'getting outside my comfort zone' I have been working on this drawing.  Its based on a photo I took from a beach bar on Fuerteventura earlier in the year.   Nothing spectacular, just a lady cooling off, paddling at the water's edge.   I've never tried drawing water/sea before and I'm struggling.  I want to stick solely with coloured pencils but can't get the white foam/water spots as bright as I'd like.   Perhaps I should have used a brighter white paper - this is Derwent watercolour paper which is slightly creamy.  

 I may have to give in and use gouache or similar and make it a mixed media work.  I can't get excited about it .. but I'm going to carry on and see how it evolves

The UKCPS Open International Exhibition opened to the public on Sunday and although I wasn't able to stay in Nottingham to see the pictures in situ, the selected drawings can be viewed from a link on the UKCPS website:

UKCPS Open International Exhibition Successful Entries