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Tips on Shipping Art Prints to Prevent Damage

Updated on February 17, 2013

Art Print

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Package Prints Correctly

Correctly packaging your prints for shipping is essential if you are to prevent your prints from becoming damaged. There is nothing more frustrating for customers than receiving poorly packaged prints which have been damaged as a result. If you are shipping prints for an exhibition and they are damaged by the time they get to their destination as a result of poor packaging, most artists and indeed, exhibition curators would be beyond frustrated and may end up not having work in the show as a result. Packaging is crucial if you are to maintain happy customers, happy curators and a good reputation when it comes to shipping your work. Here we will look at tips for packaging and shipping small prints, large prints and framed prints.

Small Prints

For prints of 11x14 inches or smaller, you can easily use photo mailers. These are small envelopes which are reinforced to prevent them from bending. One thing to always keep in mind when packaging any form of art is that the postman is not necessarily going to be as careful with your precious art work as you are. This means that you should consider all possibilities when packaging. With this in mind, this type of envelope may not be suitable by itself to protect your precious art prints. Sandwiching the print between two cardboard sheets of the appropriate size and sliding this into a small plastic bag BEFORE inserting it into the envelope, should be sufficient to protect the print. It is wise to also use “fragile” stickers and to clearly mark the envelope with “DO NOT BEND!” These envelopes are very cost effective and are useful if you are shipping the print without a frame, mat or mount.

Large Prints

Prints larger than 11x14 inches are bound to become damaged if shipped in envelopes, even if sandwiched between card. It is therefore advisable to use packing tubes with very thick and sturdy walls.

Packing tubes can still get squashed and cause damage to your delicate prints however. There are two things you can do to prevent this. The first thing is to roll the print up tightly enough so that there is around one inch of space left between the outside of the rolled up print and the tube. Use packing paper or even bubble wrap to fill in the space all around the print inside the tube so that the print floats safely inside the cushioning of the paper or bubble wrap.

The second thing you can do in addition to this or instead of this, is pack the print inside one tube and then pack the tube in another tube which is bigger than the first, again floating the first tube inside the second tube using bubble wrap or packing paper. Either of these techniques or both, if you are very cautious, should provide adequate protection for your print.

One thing to consider when rolling prints is that the act of rolling itself could cause damage to the surface of the prints. It is therefore advisable to cover the surface of the print with soft paper before rolling to protect it. Insert a sheet of paper at both ends of the tube to protect the ends from damage.

Framed Prints

Framed or mounted prints represent a rigid, yet fragile product which needs to be shipped. Small framed or mounted prints can be safely packaged inside cardboard boxes with lots of bubble wrap, cardboard and packaging paper to float the print inside, preventing damage. However, larger framed prints will require some extra protection. While there are plenty of professional fine art packaging companies who can happily package delicate framed prints safely for you, they can be very, very expensive. You can use sturdy cardboard boxes with foam inserts tightly wrapped around the print with plenty of bubble wrap, however, this may still be a risky move. A company called Airfloat Systems, sells special boxes which are made specifically for packaging and shipping delicate art work which contain foam inserts which are designed in such a way that the art work floats inside a cushioned box and is well protected. The system looks and sounds very promising.

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