How to Take the Headache out of Shipping Your Artwork

Artwork Archive | July 5, 2017

Selling an artwork is exciting. Shipping that artwork is anything but.

Packing and shipping your artwork might be the most dreaded aspect of making a sale.

In a perfect world, you would be able to deliver your artwork in person and see that it was handed off in perfect condition. But, in reality, most of the times you make a sale online or outside of a gallery or fair,  you have to struggle with shipping logistics.

We have some expert advice on how to package and ship your sold art pieces.

Use this information as a jumping-off point, but remember that all art has unique challenges and sometimes art becomes damaged in transit regardless.

Be economical with your packaging.

You don’t want to spend so much money and time packaging and shipping your artwork that it eats away at your profits.

You can still ship something safely and economically by using recycled materials and inexpensive materials. Boxes can be inexpensive and perfect for transporting art as long as you size and package correctly.

The best boxes are ones that only leave, at most, just a few inches around the piece on the interior. Check out Ecoenclose for an online provider of eco-friendly shipping supplies.


Add layers with thought.

For the first layer, use plastic wrap to add a layer of sealed protection to your pieces. The most recommended materials for this are stretch pallet wrapping and a heavy-duty packing tape. This provides the strength and size appropriate for wrapping most art pieces.  

Wrap your artwork starting from the back. All diagonal crosses of the wrap should happen at the back of the piece, giving you a smooth, protective layer in front.

When you are done wrapping your piece, art gallery owner Jason Horejs recommends cutting small slits in the back of the wrapping. This helps the artwork “breathe” and reduces the chance of trapping moisture in the wrapping.

The second layer should be an additional flat piece of cardboard. Cut the cardboard to create a tight fitting box around the plastic-wrapped piece. For three-dimensional work, make your inner cardboard box as close to fitting as possible (the first layer should also include bubble wrap on a three-dimensional piece).

Layer three should be your bubble wrap. Get the bubble wrap as tight as you can and add additional pieces to the corners of your artwork or any fragile pieces.

It sounds like many layers at this point, but the effort you put in while packing is worth not having to deal with a damaged piece.


Research your shipping options.

Check with your local shipping carriers about any size and weight requirements. It may be that the size and weight will require you to use a trucking or freight carrier that is better suited to deliver large packages.

Most shipping companies will offer insurance for your piece while in transit that you should consider. If you have an insurance policy set up, there may be limitations on the coverage while the pieces are in transit. Check in with what you have and what options the carrier provides to cover any gaps in coverage.

If you are shipping large pieces, contact freight companies ahead of time. They may be able to professionally package your artwork for less than it would cost to do it yourself.

You can never be one-hundred percent certain that your piece will be delivered without any glitches, but by following these tips you can do your best to prevent any shipping mishaps.  

If there is damage, document everything and provide this to your insurance provider and shipper so they can guide you through the process of getting the piece fixed or the value replaced. You will need to provide information about the piece before the damage occurred.

Having an inventory of your work and the details associated will help in the unfortunate case that your artwork is ever damaged in transit.​

An easy way to make sure you have this on file is by storing it in your Artwork Archive account.

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