How to ship a painting

28 07 2008

So, you have finished your masterpiece and someone has purchased it… now what? Valuable paintings should be shipped by an expert art moving company. However, most of our artwork, despite how much they mean to us, does not require this type of shipping. Shipping your artwork can be a stressful process, no matter how well you package it. These tips will, hopefully, alleviate some of that stress.

Tip #1 – Dry first!
For pity’s sake, allow your painting to completely dry before you ship it! You worked so hard on it and it has even been purchased (although, in my opinion, it is wise to let the painting dry completely before offering it for sale!) so why would you want to put a wet painting in a box and have your customer find that it has been smudged upon arrival?

Remember that oil paints take an outrageous time to dry. Where I live, it can take upwards of six months! Even though the top layers may be dry, the underlying layers may not be.

Tip #2 – Framing
If your painting has already been stretched, it is almost always better to ship a framed painting rather that a raw canvas. The frame will act as a stabilizer to help make sure nothing comes in contact with the surface of the painting. However this is not always possible (or wanted stylistically by the artist.)

However, if your painting is not stretched, you are in luck. It will be much easier to ship your painting. After making sure it is completely dry, roll it around a cardboard tube paint side in. Then, wrap this in bubble wrap and proceed to place into a large mailing tube.

Tip #2.5 – Corner Guards
If your painting is framed, you may want to consider used cardboard corner guards to protect the, you guessed it, corners of the frame.

Tip #3 – Bubble wrap is a lovely thing… unless it touches your painting.
Bubble wrap is a person’s best friend when it comes to shipping valuable items. However, it can soon turn into your worst enemy if it touches the actual paint. This can cause a reaction between the plastic and the paint and the outcome will not be good. If anything needs to touch the paint at all, make sure it is acid-free paper.

Tip #4 – Packing peanuts?
Personally, I avoid packing peanuts like the plague. They cause static and if broken, they can create many, many little bits of foam which stick to your painting. Only used these if you have previously wrapped your painting in acid-free paper first. Packing Peanuts should never be your sole form of packing material.

Tip #5 – Two-day or overnight!
I am assuming that your client is paying for the shipping of the piece, as they should. So you should always ship either two-day or overnight if possible. The less people handling your painting, the better. A lot of terrible things can happen to a poor painting if it is passed from hand to hand by a shipping company.

Tip #6 – Receipt and Insure
Be absolutely sure you have a receipt for the paintings full value from your customer; insure it for the full value. If you do not have a receipt from your customer, the only insurance you will be able to get is the cost of materials.

Tip #7 – Thank you note
Not really a shipping tip, but a tip nonetheless. When you are sending your painting on its way, you may want to consider sending along a letter along inside the box. Just a simple “Thank you for purchasing ______. I hope you enjoy your new work of art.” will suffice. If this letter happens to have your website address and business information for said customer to pass along to their friends, so be it.

Zach Risso




One response

4 08 2008

Zach- You offer very good tips for shipping art. You can also use the boxes that movers use for mirrors. A few years ago, I stumbled on this helpful site for packaging art to be shipped:
Kind regards-

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