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Packing And Shipping Art

Updated on November 26, 2014

How To Pack & Ship Art

As an artist you will have to embrace shipping as a necessary part of your business in order to increase sales potential Many artists with whom I've spoken are afraid of shipping. Having a wonderful one of a kind piece of artwork destroyed in transit is a is something every artist loses sleep over. I know I do and I have been shipping my artwork all over the US and occasionally out of it form many years..

As a gallery owner I do a lot of shipping. They key to get your artwork from you to it's future home is all in the packing. A well packaged item should arrive in mint condition provided something truly unpredictable doesn't happen with the carrier. I have never had something arrive damaged and need to be replaced. However I've had plenty of things arrive at my gallery in a shambles because the original owner just stuck it in a box and handed it over, trusting the carrier to not toss it around like a sack of potatoes.

What You'll Find On This Page

* Packing & shipping informations regarding using tubes, envelopes and boxes.

* Shipping Supply Companies

* How To Make Your Own Shipping Boxes

* Where To Find Free Recycled Supplies

copyrights protected by Copyscape
copyrights protected by Copyscape

All copyrights are retained by the artist,

Mona Majorowicz of Wild Faces Gallery.

The artwork or content in this lens may not be used or reproduced, either

in part or in whole, without the express written consent from the artist.

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Packing and Shipping Supplies
Packing and Shipping Supplies

Common Carriers In The US For Shipping Artwork

Shipping Companies For Your Artwork

I have an order or preference for shipping which is basically relevant to how much they charge to move my package. So my favorite carrier company which is Speedee, just also happens to be the cheapest. But they also make requesting a package pickup, the easiest and they offer services like 24 hour delivery at no extra fee. The downside to them is they only cover part of the country. They deliver to only 6 six states in the Midwest.

So here's a list of all the carrier companies I do business with regularly, complete with links and what I like about each.

USPS United States Postal Service

I actually use the post office for most of my smaller shipping needs. Priority costs are reasonable enough as long as the overall dimension (circumference completely around the width of the package) does not exceed 108". Once you get past that size the cost go up exponentially and it is in your best interest and pocket book to to find another carrier. And if you want to track a package shipped with USPS click here.

FedEx Federal Express

This has become my second national carrier of choice. I used to do everything with UPS but they had a serious rate increase a year or so back and most days FedEx is about 30% cheaper than UPS when shipping the same package. I almost always check both carriers to see who'll do the job for the least amount of money. And If you want to track a package via FedEx click here

UPS United Parcel Service

This is usually my last choice in carriers these days though I have shipped literally hundreds of packages with UPS and other than them being the most expensive most days, I was very happy with their service. And if you want to track a package with UPS click here

Speedee Delivery Shipping Carrier

Companies For Shipping Your Artwork

And here's a little known but excellent carrier for the Midwest


I love these guys and ship everything I can with them. They are cheap and they are good. Exactly the combination I like The only downside is they only cover a few states. Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Parts of Nebraska and Illinois. And if you want to Track a package via Speedee click here

But if you live in this little circle of heaven these are just the guys to move your art and do it well.

Specific Benefits To Using Speedee

* They don't have any extra fees for home delivery

* I've yet to ship a package so large as to incur oversize fees (both FedEx and UPS will charge me extra for the same size that Speedee handles.)

* They will pick up at any location for just $10. And trust me you save far more than that by using with them.)

* The almost invariably deliver within 24 hours again at no extra cost.,

A Story About Carrier Rates To Illustrate My Point

I had three large boxes that needed to go to Rapid City SD from my hometown in Iowa. I first took them to UPS. The cost was $94 for all three. I checked out FedEx and it was around $70. I then called Speedee as I hadn't shipped with them before this. All 3 packages to Rapid City by the next day for $32 and that included the $10 pick up charge from my gallery. Yup been a loyal fan ever since.

Shipping With Mailing Envelopes

Using Mailing Envelopes For Small Shrinkwrapped Artwork or Prints

Shipping artwork using mailing envelopes
Shipping artwork using mailing envelopes

Shipping small prints either with or without matting is a fairly simple affair. In the above photo I'm using a USPS Priority mailing envelope which is made of a durable yet flexible material. I like these because of the size, which is 11x14. I mat many of my small collectible prints to fit this standard framing size so the envelope is the perfect fit. These come with the price set of usually around $5, so if you have a smaller print (say something that fits in a 9x12 envelope) that doesn't need to go priority mail you can use your own envelope and save a little money. I tend to do that with ebay sales or sales of that nature. Generally just regular first class is about $2 to give you a comparison.

Shipping With Mailing Envelopes

Using Mailer Envelopes:

* Have print mounted to stiff backer board and shrinkwrapped or put in a protective sleeve. This is not only to prevent moisture damage but also protect the print while being handled.

* Apply a piece of cardboard or backer board over the face of the artwork,* Slip into envelope with invoice.

* Be sure to either write "Do Not Bend!" or apply labels to that effect. You might think that a postmaster would never attempt to bend a stiff envelope but I have had them do so despite the extra cardboard and labels.

Protecting Your Artwork With Sleeves or Shrinkwrapping - Packing Materials And Supplies

Having your artwork covered with either shrinkwrap or a protective sleeve is always a good idea whether your shipping them or not. Once protected your art is now easily handled without fear of damage dents, creases, scratches and dirty hands. Also when in transit a shrinkwrap or sleeve may keep moisture from doing any damage.

These clear envelopes are a great idea for do-it-yourself kind of shrinkwrapping. They come in a variety off sizes and are pretty cost effective, especially if you're buying in bulk quantities.

My Favorite Supplier Of Protective Sleeves & Envelopes

One of my favorite supplier s for the is They have a staggering array of sizes as well as all sorts of packaging and marketing solutions for artists and craftsman. If you have a large variety of sizes to your product line these guys are a great company. I've been getting my supplies from them for many years and have always been happy with both the products and the service.

Padded Envelopes and Bubble Envelopes - Packing and Shipping Supplies & Materials

I don't use these a whole lot because I tend to ship most of my items priority postal so I just use their envelopes. However these have that add little extra cushioning which is always great for mailing your artwork. Despite this you must still be sure to have some sort of cardboard covering on both from and back of your artwork to protect it during transit.

Rugged Mailers - Packing and Shipping Supplies & Materials

Rugged Mailers are also a really good alternative and they come in a nice assortment of sizes. Be aware that they can still get bent but it's a rarity. Never hurts to add a little extra support of cardboard if there's room, to these as well.

Packing Larger Shrinkwrapped Artwork or Prints Flat

Once again how much effort you put into packing your larger prints will depend mostly on how badly you want it to arrive at it's destination in mint condition. If your mailing a one of a kind item that can't be replaced or even an item that is costly to you to replace go, do the extra effort necessary to ensure it's chances of arriving safely.

For a print in most cases it is sufficient to just have several layers of cardboard on both top and bottom. Cut these pieces at least 2" larger than the size of the object being shipped. This is minimally what you'll want to do to ship a larger shrinkwrapped print flat. This amount of packing will allow for minor denting of the cardboard both on the corners and on the face of the cardboard. It also makes bending pretty much impossible.

The Steps For Mailing Artwork Flat Are:

* Make sure the artwork is sealed in shrinkwrap or a protective sleeve.

* I then slip this in an additional bag with the invoice (on the back side of the backer-board, not on the face of the artwork) tucked in with it.

* Cut a piece of foam or thin bubble wrap to size of the object being shipped. I prefer the foam but bubble wrap will work as well.

* Cut at least 4 pieces of cardboard 2" larger than object being shipped. Tap lightly to hold everything in place.

* Slip into an additional box frame for extra support.

Now if it's an important piece of work I may slip a sheet of two of mat board in with the cardboard. Mat board is incredibly dense (unlike cardboard) so it is better at deflecting dents and stabs.

This should be more than sufficient to get your art where it needs to go safely.

Pistol Grip Tape Gun: Making Taping Up Your Boxes A Whole Lot Easier - Packing & Shipping Materials and Supplies

Using Mailing Tubes For Packing Artwork - How To Pack Artwork Using Tubes.

packing and shipping art using mailing tubes
packing and shipping art using mailing tubes

*Note: The art print featured in this photo is by Marion Gunderson Arts and was used with permission.

Whenever possible using tubes is my preferred method of shipping prints.

Most of the time I send my medium sized prints (say paper size) flat and in shrinkwrap as this not only makes for a nicer presentation when the customers opens the box, it also helps keep the art in mint condition until either being gifted or framed. But for prints ranging in larger sizes I send in a tube. It's fast and nearly effortless. 5 minutes time is about all it usually takes.

What You'll Need To Mail In A Tube

* The Mailing Tube (obviously)

* Plastic bag. (for packing option listed at the bottom)

* Sheet of paper slightly larger than the artwork being shipped. Usually a 1" allowance all the way around is adequate and cut to fit the tube.

Using Heavy Duty Mailing Tube

The First thing to do is to roll up the print.

Lay your print in the center of you sheet of paper and roll them up together simultaneously. Slip this into the tube. DO NOT tape the paper roll. Just slip into the tube and allow it to expand to fit tightly inside the tube.

The paper serves a couple of functions

* First he keeps the print from sliding back and forth in the tube and potentially denting the print.

* Second most folks really don't think about how clean their hands are when opening up a package. By having a bit of the paper surround it helps keep the print clear when being removed from the tube.

Be Sure To Include An Invoice Or Address On the Inside Of The Tube

It's always recommended to have the destination included on the inside of any package you are shipping just in case it gets torn open and become separated from the original shipping contained.

Apply Label And Tape Shut

I always tape my tube ends securely no matter how snugly I think they are sealed.

Using A Reinforced Carriers Light Weight Tube

I have used USPS Priority Mail tubes (as is) for hundreds transit jobs and never had a problem. But then there was this one time that it arrived to the purchaser completely trashed and flattened. It's rare but it does happen. So if you're shipping something that's not easily replaced either use your own heavy duty tube or modify the carrier's tube.

Since Wild Faces Gallery is also a giclee publishing house we have plenty of extra heavy duty tubes from our rolls of paper. They are of course no end-caps so they are kinda useless as shipping tubes on their own. However they are exactly the extra durability I need when using one of the carriers triangular tubes. So the steps are pretty much the same as above.

The First thing to do is to roll up the print.

Lay your print in the center of you sheet of paper and roll them up together simultaneously. Slip this into the tube. DO NOT tape the paper roll. Just slip into the tube and allow it to expand to fit tightly inside the tube.

Affix Mailing address or label to the outside of the inner stabilizing tube

Slip tube into plastic bag

This has to do with common carrier cardboard triangular tube are made of a light weight cardboard. Occasionally a postal delivery person may leave the tube outside of someone's home. The bag is just that little bit of extra insurance that if it rains, the print will arrive in perfect condition. And yes this has happened to me.

Slip tube into carrier triangular shipping tube And tape the ends shut.

Packing and Shipping Framed Artwork

A Few Things To Consider

I have shipped large framed items from one end of the country to the other and have yet had anything arrive broken. That being said the amount of work involved in shipping a large framed piece of work is substantial and as an artist you must figure out whether the cost of packing materials coupled with the amount of time involved is the worth the "net" value on what you're earning with framing charge. You may find it is much easier to simply sell only unframed items.

Since we have a full service frame shop in out gallery our net on framing is pretty good so we do ship framed prints and on rare occasion framed originals.

Note: Whenever shipping framed originals I replace the Conservation Clear glass that all my artwork is framed in, with a conservation grade picture framing acrylic. This won't shatter (unless the shipper runs over it or something, and then you've got bigger worries) in transit. Broken glass inside a packing parcel will slice and shred as the box is handled.

Since Conservation grade framing acrylic is expensive you can also use just regular acrylic or plexiglass. Another less desirable option would be to put some sort of masking tape of film over the glazing so if it does happen to break the broken glass won't be slipping around the box.

Steps For Packing Framed Artwork

Apply Cardboard Corners to the Frame This is sort of an optional step because if you've done your job correctly you won't need them at all.

Wrap The Frame Artwork in copious amounts of bubble wrap How much depends on the kind of bubble wrap your using. If using large pocket bubble wrap you can use less, and the tiny bubble pocket bubble wrap you should use more of. I generally like a good 3" inches of bubble wrap surround.

Wrap This In An Additional Layer of Either Flexible Foam Wrap Or Corrugated Cardboard Role I use the cardboard role primarily because it's what I have on hand. The purpose is to add a firmer shell to the bubble wrap and create a tight package.

Write Address or Include it On The Package Once again it's always wise to include the mailing address inside the package in case the contents ever get separated from the packing box. (Heaven forbid)

The Box Needs To Be Sufficiently Larger than The framed item Most shipping companies like to have a stabbing depth of a couple of inches so bear this in mind when packing. You should have a durable product that will hold your framed item in the center of the box. I often use styrofoam for this as it's lightweight, stab resistant and cuts easily to fit my needs.

* Cut two sheets foam the size of your box

* Lay Foam Sheet In Bottom of Box

* Set wrapped framed artwork in center of box.

* Cut Strips to tightly fit between package and box wall. If you think it necessary tape in place so package won't slip.

* Apply Other styrofoam sheet over top

* Put Lid On Box

Tape Shut and Add Mailing Label Packing is very easy to do but rather time consuming. Judge for yourself if it's worth the effort.

Note: Many art exhibit require you to ship your artwork not only to them but then they need to use the containers and wrapping to return it back to you. And if it's a traveling exhibition the packing materials need to be sturdy enough to be reused time and again. This often means you need to build a special wood crate. I won't go into how to do this specifically since different galleries and shows have different requirements for this. Just be aware that simplicity and durability are what is required above all else for this kind of packaging.

UPS Packing Guidelines

FedEx Packing Guidelines

Where To Get Packing Supplies

Various Types Of Packing & Shipping Materials and Supplies
Various Types Of Packing & Shipping Materials and Supplies

Shipping & Packing Materials Supply Companys

Where You Can Find All The Supplies You'll Need



In the US the big dog shipping supply company is ULINE These guys offer quite literally everything and anything you might need in regards to shipping. The not only carry bags and boxes, but the carry every size imaginable.

A Couple Of Things Uline Offers: Mailers | tape in every color imaginable | Tubes | Boxes | tape guns | Glues | Trash Cans | Speed Bumps (yeah that's right) | Markers | Buckets | Cable ties | Heat Guns | Labels | Floor Mats and the list goes on.

These Guys are excellent for anybody who has a brick and mortar business, or who does a ton of commerce.

Shipping Supply Company

These guys are also a good sized company. Not quite as large as ULINE and they don't cover as much industrial needs. But for the working artist Shipping Supply has everything You'll need in regards to shipping supplies.

AM Shipping Supply Company


AAA Box Company

(713) 691-4488



Packing & Shipping materials
Packing & Shipping materials

Earth Friendly Ideas For Packing Your Art

Recycling Products For Shipping Your Art

In this economy it forces people to rethink how they can better save money in areas where they won't feel the pinch. Packaging your artwork is one of those areas. I pack and ship a fair amount of stuff, (about 100 good sized boxes a year) which could potentially be a huge expense in packing materials. Not to mention we're all getting more Earth conscious and knowing that so much packing materials just wind up in the landfill after just one use. This strikes me a kind of appalling.

Anyone who has ever bought a role of bubble-wrap at your favorite business supply store knows that boxes, and bubble-wrap can add big costs to your bottom line if you do ship often. So I'm going to share a little free packing supply secret ...well it's not really a secret, it's just no one ever asked me) Yup I get much of my packing and shipping stuffs free.

So I'm going to share a little free packing supply secret ... (well it's not really a secret, it's just no one ever asked me.)I reuse much of the packing materials that I get in my gallery most of which comes in from my framing orders. But the bulk of my packing supplies comes from other sources. The absolute best place for excellent packing materials that are free? A furniture store.

At one time I had an artist friend who worked at a furniture store and when he was doing a delivery in my home town, he'd pull the truck around and drop off a truckload (literally) of huge sheets of bubble-wrap and flexible foam sheeting. Most furniture stores throw tons of it away and it just sits in our landfills. The furniture store he worked for was thrilled because that was a little less that they had to pay to get hauled to the landfill. And of course I was thrilled because it saved me fortunes (the savings of which I passed on to my customer.) And frankly, I have no way of buying huge sheets of wrap like that. (Picture blanket sized for wrapping up beds and couches. Lovely, glorious packing stuffs.)

Also, our local vet clinic is very green oriented. They get in heavy duty air packing pillows and sheets that from their delicate bottles of medicine they receive. Our small local vet clinic can usually supply me a 30 gallon garbage bag full of the stuff in a week. These tend to be smaller bits which work well for shipping smaller works or dimensional items.

So I guess the point of this is if you are looking to save a little money and are willing to be creative with who you approach, you may well save a substantial amount in your packing materials costs. Plus a little less goes in the landfill because it was recycled at least once. This way the landfills, the furniture store, my customers and I, all win.

Free Shipping Supplies Sent To Your Door

Free Materials & Supplies Available From The Common Carrier Companies

The big name shipping companies like UPS and USPS provide free boxes and envelops that will be delivered to your door ... yes for free.

Visit these websites for more information.

USPS United States Postal Service

They offer free priority mail boxes, tubes and flat rate envelopes. Of course you must use them with USPS but think of the money you save not having to buy these items. Click Here To View The USPS Shipping Materials Available

FedEx Federal Express

FedEx also offers a few free supplies for their FedEx Express shippers. You can pick these items up at your local Fedex store. Or Click here To View The FedEx Shipping Materials Available for more information

UPS United Parcel Service

Labels, air packages, and more are available free of charge to UPS customers. If you use the same supplies over and over, My UPS allows you to easily reorder the supplies you use frequently. You can also pick up free supplies from a UPS store. Or Click Here To View The Free UPS Shipping Materials Available

How To Make A Box Custom Sized Box For Shipping Artwork - A Few Simple Tools Are All That's Needed

How To Make Your Own Shipping Box
How To Make Your Own Shipping Box

Making Your Own Boxes is not something I'd recommend doing for the bulk of your mailing, as it's far too time consuming to be profitable. But occasionally you may find that you need a specific sized box that you either don't have on hand or have the time to order. So here's a quick tutorial in the basics of making your own box.

Steps For Making Your Own Box - It's Easier Than You Think To Make Your Own Box

How To Create Your Shipping Box
How To Create Your Shipping Box

For the intent of this Box Making Tutorial the final box is to be an 8 x 14 x 1 inch deep. The math and mechanics are the same however no matter what box size you're looking to create. Just adjust as necessary.

Step 1. Figure Out The Desired Box Size

So what we want is a box with an interior space of 8 x 14 x 1 we'd need to cut a solid cardboard blank of 10 x 16. Essentially you're just adding the I" depth to the overall dimension of the 8x14.

Step 2. Measure 1" Line From The Outer Dimension Of The Blank .

Do this on all four sides so you have a pattern that looks like my example. (Both Red & Blue Lines)

Step 3. Score But Do Not Cut All Of The Lines You Just Marked

You can use a utility knife for this just be very mindful of not cutting all the way through the cardboard. Just in case though it would be a good idea to have a scrap piece of cardboard underneath so you don't cut a work surface on the chance you do strike all the way through.

Step 4. Cut Through The Cardboard Where The Red Lines Indicate

Step 5. Fold The Score Lines And Tape Together

Using your straight edge fold the cardboard up. Once This is accomplished You are ready to tape it together. Merely fold in the little tabs. These are rather important as they add extra strength to the sides of the box. Tape everything securely.

Step 6. Cut The Lid

You do exactly as you did for the bottom except you make the overall dimension 1/2 larger to accommodate the thickness of the cardboard and the turned under tabs of the lid. SO for this example your overall cardboard blank would be 10 1/2 x 16 1/2. You follow all of the other steps the same..

Mona Majorowicz demonstrating art tencnique at a gallery open house
Mona Majorowicz demonstrating art tencnique at a gallery open house

About The Author Of This Page

Mona Majorowicz of WIld Faces Gallery

My name is Mona Majorowicz I am a professional artist who has been making my living selling my work for some time now. I am an animal artist, (meaning I paint critters) who works primarily in Oil Pastel or Water Soluble Pencil.

I own and operate Wild Faces Gallery with my husband Mike in a small rural town in Iowa. There we sell my original artwork and prints, as well as do quality custom framing and offer Giclee printing for other artists as well as for ourselves. I have over 20 years in ate art and framing industry both as a business owner and as a working artist.

I maintain a blog called Fur In The Paint, as well as write a regular column for the equestrian magazine Apples 'N Oats about painting horses.

Animals are my passion and art is how I chose to express it.

Here's A Tip Form A Local Ebay Seller Who Utilizes The Recycle Concept.

* Egg flats. You know those 1 foot square dimpled paper pulp egg holders which bulk eggs come in, that restaurants throw out. They provide that stabbing space many shippers request and are a light weight and more durable alternative to packing peanuts.

Got Any Packing And Shipping Tricks You'd Like To Share? - Feel Free To Sign My Guestbook

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    • WildFacesGallery profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Iowa

      @anonymous: Yes. U line (link provided above under Material & Supply Companies section) offers a plush foam sleeve which I have gotten at 32x40 inches. Though they may make them larger still. I use them for lining my boxes which I tote artwork in to events.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      do you know where i can get a padded envelope, not necessarily for shipping but just for taking work to shows where I don't know how carefully the work will be treated. I currently wrap in bubble wrap,, etc. but wondering if theres a large-ish envelope out there? 16x20" and a bit larger?

    • Morgannafay profile image


      6 years ago

      I've wanted to know this for years! Thanks for all of the info on how to pack and ship artwork. Whew, I've had one drawing damaged, plus four mini pieces get completely lost in the mail. Who knows where they are now! Most of those were international and only one domestic. They were miniature so I just offered to draw it again. Still chapped my you know what though. lol Was my fault for using regular envelopes rather than shipping. I just figured it's so small, why not pad it and mail like a letter. I won't mail anything without insurance anymore. :(

      Thanks again for yet another awesome informative page!

    • Pam Irie profile image

      Pam Irie 

      6 years ago from Land of Aloha

      I also save styrofoam meat trays. Just pop them in the top shelf of the dishwasher. They are lightweight and great for preserving glass in shipping. (Thanks for the tip on the furniture store and for how to make a box for shipping. This is something I've always wanted to try.)

    • CoeGurl profile image


      6 years ago from USA

      Very informative - thanks so much!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      some really good ideas here for how to pick and pack your art so it does not get damaged

    • jadehorseshoe profile image


      6 years ago

      Excellent Resource.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Thanks for sharing that topic! Great lens! 5 stars*****

    • Rita-K profile image


      7 years ago

      This is a gem of information. A perfect 100th lens! Great job as always!

    • Sylvestermouse profile image

      Cynthia Sylvestermouse 

      7 years ago from United States

      Excellent information! I do a lot of shipping myself, not artwork though, and I have found that the way a shipper packs a product often determines the shape it is in when it is delivered. Bubble wrap, bubble wrap lined envelopes and sturdy boxes are indeed worth the extra cost or time to construct. The recipient rarely blames the shipping company.

    • John Dyhouse profile image

      John Dyhouse 

      7 years ago from UK

      nothing to add to a detailed and well written set of tips. Thanks for a geat lens


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