Artists: Guidance for packing & sending the art

Handle with care

Before commencing the shipment, the shipper must make sure that:

  1. the condition of the work is impeccable,
  2. the goods to be transported shall be packed, shielded, marked, and equipped with adequate and appropriate means, in order to withstand the normal handling and transport,
  3. the means of transport is appropriate for the safe transport of such goods.

Safety, professionalism and economy

Most damage can be avoided with careful planning and packing.

When handling the art, be respectful. When the artwork arrives to your customer, you want the packaging to look like it is worthy of the artwork within.

While safety and professionalism come first, shipping expenses concerns have to be balanced against your costs. These factors can be balanced; try to use recycled materials wherever possible. With a little careful planning you can minimize the environmental impact of your art shipping activity.

The right tools

Your shipping will be simpler and safer if you have the right tools.

You may pay a little more to get high quality tools, but this investment will quickly pay off in increased productivity and professionalism. A good tool will last years.


A good T-Square will help you make straight, even cuts when modifying your boxes or cardboard. Get tall enough T-Square.

Box cutter / cutter knife

A high quality, heavy-duty box cutter is one of your most-important, most used tools. For example, you can cut a cardboard that can be used to protect a work of art. Be careful when using this tool!

Tape gun

The tape gun facilitates and speeds up packing work for a lot of packaging. It will glue and break the tape accurately and quickly without any separate tools.

Paint marker and pencil

Useful for making marks.

Tape measure

The tape measure is one of the most important tools for the artist.

Weighing machine

Weighing artworks and packages.


Having the right supplies will simplify shipping life and save you a lot of running around when you make a sale. You can meet most of your packing needs with just a small arsenal. Choose packaging samples and protective materials right – you save on costs!

Packaging fillers protect your products from scratches and bumps during transportation. Soft rolling products are well suited for packing products that are challenging in shape or size.

Shipping tubes

Shipping tubes can be used to send graphics or drawings on a roll. The works should not be kept rolling for long periods of time. Get several different sized tubes.

Shipping bags

You can send smaller prints or drawings in a sturdy cargo bag. The bag must have a durable adhesive surface for sealing. Get several different sized bags.


It may be difficult to find cardboard boxes, especially for large-scale works of just the right size, so you may have to use creativity to get a work sent. Protect your work before placing it in the cardboard box to keep blank space around the work.

Kraft paper

Kraft paper is suitable for packaging wrapping or can be packaged to fill the package to protect against blows. Kraft paper is environmentally friendly packaging material because it is 100% recyclable. You get good protection for the artwork by wrapping it first in bubble wrap and then in the kraft paper. It can be purchased in several widths on large rolls.

Carboard sheet

Cardboards are suitable for stabilizing and protecting the works. Especially light products often require intermediate cardboards. With a cardboard, you get strurdiness to pack the work when you put it between the two cardboards, then fill and finally the cardboard box.

Bubble wrap

The bubble wrap can be used for many purposes and can be purchased on many different widths in large rolls.

While any individual bubble is easy to pop, a sheet of the bubbles, working in concert, draws a surprising amount of strength by distributing pressure and impact across a wide area.

Bubble wrap both cushions the art and fills space, preventing unwanted movement within your packaging. When shipping paintings, bubble wrap should be your filler of choice.

Corner protections

You can protect the corner of your artwork by corner protectors. Attach the shields, for example, with a strecht film.

Strecht film

With stretch film, you can protect the corners and frames of the work by twisting the film around the frames.

“Fragile” stickers or tape

If the contents of the package are easily broken, it is advisable to send the package carefully. Carefully shipped shall be packed sufficiently and in the manner required for the contents and the packaging must be affixed with fragile labels.

Some Tips

Fill outer box as completely as possible, for example with bubble wrap. The number one cause of damage to frames and corners of the artwork is movement allowed by extra space in the box.

Tape all of the seams of your outer box, including the short seams at the ends of each flap. This may seem like overkill, but any un-taped seam is a potential snag, and if something catches under the seam, your box could easily be ripped open.

You can also apply tape all the way around the length and width of the package to tighten everything up.

If you are shipping watercolors, photography, prints, or anything else behind a panel of glass: because the slightest jolt or tension can cause your glass to shatter, it is even more important that you provide ample padding and eliminate all possible movement.

Now that we have the artwork professionally boxed up, we’re ready to get it on its way. There are a number of options available when it comes to choosing a delivery company. Everyone seems to develop their favorites, and if you’ve found one that works for you, stick with it.

Even a new box is going to show signs of wear and tear when it arrives at your client’s doorstep. Using an old box is inviting trouble. As an artist, you want your client to feel that they are buying one of your masterpieces. You are sending the client exactly the opposite message if you show them you feel the artwork isn’t even worth the cost of a new box.

Larger artworks almost always requires a wooden crate for shipment. Talk to other artists in your area and ask if they’ve found someone who does a good job at a reasonable price.


In spite of your best efforts in padding and protecting your artwork, damage is inevitable. Once your artwork leaves your hands, it is passing into a vast and complicated shipping network with lots of moving parts. There is no way to completely eliminate the possibility of damage, so you should plan for its eventuality and consider purchasing insurance to protect against loss.

Dealing with damage

On the rare occasion that damage occurs, the manner in which you react will affect your relationship with your client.

First and foremost, it’s important that you follow the procedures laid out earlier to ship the artwork safely. You are in a far better position if your client feels that you did everything in your power to protect the artwork. You are also far more likely to file a successful claim with the shipping or insurance company if you have met their shipping requirements.

Reassure your client that your are doing everything in your power to rectify the situation.

Typically, when damage occurs, the shipping company will return the artwork to you. When the piece arrives, talk to both the shipping company and your insurance adjuster to find out how they would like you to proceed. Document the damage to the packaging and to the artwork per their instructions.

Provide the shipping company or insurance agency all of the information they need in a timely manner.