How to Ship Your Artwork

It might be difficult for some artists to figure out how to properly wrap and ship their artwork, so it arrives safely to its destination.

Paintings, sculptures and other art pieces are fragile objects that must be handled carefully in order to avoid damage.

The main goal when shipping an artwork should be packing it safely in order to reduce the risk of damages.

It is also important to make sure your packaging looks good — after all, if you’re selling art, the buyer will expect a packaging that matches the excellence of an artwork.

Lastly, you should consider the economic aspects and whether that method is feasible for you.

So thinking about all the challenges of the matter, here’s a simplified step-by-step guide on how to properly pack and ship your artwork.

First Things First: researching.

Before anything else, you should start off by researching couriers and packing/wrapping materials.

A delivery man handling packages.

1. Couriers

When looking for delivery companies remember to take into consideration things like: shipment costs, size restrictions, shipping regions, volume and frequency of shipping (for discounts) and delivery time options.

Take your time to research this, we suggest making a list of your top 3 choices of couriers to test out, and see which one gives you the best results.

Different types of papers for packing artworks.

2. Packing Material

Keep in mind that you will need different packing materials depending on the kind of artworks you will be posting. If you’re looking to send out drawings, paintings or prints made on paper, you should look for cardboard tubes.

If you’re shipping stretched canvas and/or sculptures, you’ll need to look for boxes in which your artworks will both fit and be protected.

Also, correct labelling and some extra protecting material such as bubble wrap might be needed.

Be sure to research materials thoroughly and consider every artwork you will be sending, such as, the dimensions and fragility of the piece.

You may also want to acquire recycled packing materials whenever possible to minimize environmental damages.

Besides the obvious packing material, keep in mind some of the tools you will always need when packing an artwork: tape measure, shipping scale and a box cutter.

After doing your research and deciding on packing material and different couriers, it’s time to get handy.

3. Measuring and Weighing

Before anything else, you need to measure and weigh your artworks to make sure you have what is necessary to pack them properly. For that you will need the tape measure and shipping scale mentioned previously.

A sealing tape and cardboard boxes for packing artworks.

4. Wrapping & Packing

When packing, make sure you:

a. Wrap all artworks individually, even if they are going to the same buyer.

b. Avoid selling and sending framed artwork since it will increase size and weight, therefore costs, and also damage risk.

c. If you choose to ship framed artwork, make sure you have the proper material to pack it properly and safely. This includes plywood boxes since they hold up more weight, and a glass skin to avoid the glass panel shattering and damaging the artwork.

d. Use bubble wrap to fill voids in the packaging, but do not let it get in direct contact with your paintings or the varnish might be damaged.

e. Pack an instructions sheet with your artwork so the person receiving it knows how to properly unpack & pack it back in case of returns.

f. Cushion your artwork to make sure it doesn’t move inside its package and is entirely protected.

j. Even though you label it as fragile, make sure you have waterproof and resistant packing material to prevent your artwork from being exposed to elements.

h. Seal your package properly by using a strong and wide sealing tape, and use it to reinforce the protection on the corners of the packaging.

Cardboard box with a "FRAGILE" label.

5. Labelling

Correct labelling might be an obvious point, but it’s always good to pay attention to that. Make sure you’ve labelled your package properly by:

a. Putting a big label with all the correct information written clearly in block capital letters with a waterproof marker.

b. Including an additional label inside of the package just in case the external label is damaged or detached.

c. Avoiding placing the label over a seam or opening.

d. Including an extra label with a return address in case something goes wrong and the package needs to be returned.

e. Double-check all the information written on the labels and make sure “TO” and “FROM” fields are clearly indicated.

6. Double-Checking

Measure and weigh it once again after wrapped to make sure it complies with the shipping requirements. Yes, we recommend you double-check every step of the process, especially when it comes down to measuring sizes and weight — you can never be too careful.

A pile of cardboard boxes inside a warehouse.

An important thing is accepting that despite your best efforts, your artwork will still be vulnerable to damage after it’s shipped.

These are just a few tips on how to reduce the risk, and keep it as professional as it can be.

The more artworks you pack and send out, the more experience you’ll acquire on the matter. After testing different couriers, materials and techniques, you will be sure to find out which ones work best for you.

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