In every case when your art sells it becomes a significant investment of your time and money. Since you can now sell this investment globally online, when the opportunity presents itself getting your work to a patron safely will become a serious concern.
In many cases smaller renderings such as pencil portraits and prints can be shipped with a bubble lined or corrugated mailers. Always make certain the face of the art is covered with acid free tissue and it is packed between two rigid pieces of cardboard. Larger works of art will require more attention.
Since most shipping companies will emphasize that ” Proper packaging is the sole responsibility of the shipper”, you should always purchase shipping insurance for your paintings. However, in most cases the best insurance against your customer’s disappointment is by properly packaging your art against shipment damage. When you place a “FRAGILE” label on your box it does not insure that everyone can read or understands what that means. Don’t take for granted that every individual that handles your work will provide the respect you feel it deserves. As scary as it sounds, visualizing how the painting could be damaged from being dropped or crushed in transit will benefit in deciding your packing method.
Your first defense against damage in transit is to protect your painting from it’s itself and the packing materials used:
Lineco Acid-Free Tissue
With your larger drawings and paintings that will not be shipped stretched or framed Heavy Wall Rolling Tubes can be used. If you ship your art in a tube first lay down pH neutral tissue paper on a table, place the painting face down to loosely roll it up (face of painting out) making certain the entire front of painting is protected with the paper. Caution should be taken to avoid rolling your painting too tightly to avoid cracking the paint. For protection from moisture, wrap in polyethylene sheeting and secure on both ends. Use pH neutral artist tape to secure the roll (do not use rubber bands) before placing it in the tube. Better yet allow the painting to expand to the inside of the tube to prevent it from bouncing around in transit. If the artwork that has been rolled and put in tubes is for storage previous to sale such as with prints, as a preventative measure against insects such as silverfish and moths, place a boric acid packet in each tube before capping while it is in storage.
These would be the simplest methods. If your are shipping a stretched canvas or framed work of art, use foam or cardboard corner guards to protect the corners from impact damage. In many cases for smaller paintings at this point you will be safe by wrapping well with 2-3 inches of bubble wrap and packaging in a padded Lined StrongBox®.
This is the least expensive way to ship larger stretched and framed paintings.
- Wrap artwork with at least 2 or 3 inches of bubble wrap after it is protected with pH neutral tissue paper.
- Wrap padded artwork tightly with two layers of cardboard keeping the corners and edges rigid.
- Find or make a an outer box that will provide at least 3 inches of padding form any point of the wrapped painting.
- Fill the outer box with 3″ of packing peanuts and place the wrapped painting inside.
- Fill all voids of the outer box evenly to assure adequate cushioning completely around the wrapped painting.
- Tape all seams and flaps. Reinforce the box with Rayon filament strapping tape on each end and in the middle the the outer box.
The biggest concern using this packing method is protecting the painting surface from the package being laid flat and having boxes stacked on top of it potentially puncturing and damaging it. Placing a “DO NOT LAY FLAT” and /or “DO NOT STACK ON TOP” stickers/stencils may help if your handlers can read what ever language they are written in. I wouldn’t depend on it. This is why you would be advised of crating large framed pieces to ship.
In many cases when shipping larger and/or heavier paintings internationally, crating your finished framed art is advised. This can include an additional expense due to the materials and weight but it is a small expense in comparison to replacing the painting. If you feel you lack the resources to crate your painting there are many specialty shipping companies available who can do it for you but, if you are positive about doing it yourself you can save the additional expense.
Take the first steps in Protection of your art as discussed previously. Then wrap well with bubble wrap. Level a layer of packing peanuts to the back of the box and place your painting centered in the box. Fill with peanuts evenly around the parameter and then the face of the painting the cover with the piece of foam that was cut to size. It should lay flush to the sides of the box. After you nail the top of the crate into place your crate is ready to ship.
Keep in mind that most shipping companies determine your expense by the size and weight of the item, a reason to insulate your package with the lightest materials possible. Depending on the value of your painting, you may find it necessary to hire a company that specializes in high security treatment for shipping art. Compare several quotes before making your choice.
When you are shipping art, be sure to define your terms by clarifying responsibilities with the recipient. Be certain the address label is accurate and legible and require a receipt for the shipment. It is always the shippers responsibility and liability to provide accurate shipping information.
If you are shipping internationally, be absolutely positive you have provided all customs documentation requirements for bringing your artwork into another country. Failure to provide accurate documentation can result in your artwork being delayed or seized at customs, and/or even losing your import/export privileges with them.