how to ship paintings
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Have you ever experienced the excitement of purchasing a beautiful painting, only to feel a sense of anxiety when it comes time to ship it? I know I have. The fear of damage or loss can be overwhelming, especially when you’ve invested time and money into finding the perfect piece. But fret not, because in this expert guide, we will show you exactly how to ship paintings safely and ensure that your beloved artwork arrives at its destination unscathed.

When it comes to shipping paintings, there are numerous factors to consider – from the mounting, size, and insurance to the choice of packaging materials and the shipping carrier. It can be daunting, but with the right knowledge and careful preparation, you can protect your artwork and gain peace of mind throughout the shipping process.

So, whether you’re an art enthusiast, a collector, or an artist looking to send your creations to galleries or clients, this guide is for you. Let’s dive in and discover the step-by-step instructions on how to ship paintings securely.

Key Takeaways:

  • Properly preparing and packaging artwork is crucial for safe shipping.
  • Consider factors such as mounting, size, insurance, and volume of artwork.
  • Choose the right shipping carrier and understand their size restrictions.
  • Wrapped artwork in acid-free paper and bubble wrap for added protection.
  • Label the package as fragile and explore insurance options to protect your artwork.

Factors to Consider When Mailing Artwork

When it comes to shipping delicate artwork, there are several important factors to consider. From the packaging to the choice of shipping method, each decision plays a crucial role in ensuring the safe arrival of your precious pieces.

One of the first considerations is how the art is mounted. Mounted canvases require special packaging to prevent any damage during transit. Opt for shipping them in sturdy boxes that provide ample protection. On the other hand, unmounted canvases can be rolled and shipped in tubes, which is a convenient and secure method of transportation.

The size of your artwork also impacts the shipping process. Smaller and medium-sized pieces can usually be shipped in padded mailers or corrugated cardboard boxes. These provide adequate cushioning while keeping the artwork secure. However, larger artworks may require a more robust packaging solution, such as crating. Crating provides maximum protection and stability for larger pieces, minimizing the risk of any damage during shipping.

Insurance is another critical factor to consider when shipping delicate artwork. Purchasing insurance ensures that you are financially protected in case of loss or damage during transit. It is recommended to choose a shipping carrier that offers insurance options specifically designed for valuable artworks.

If you frequently ship large volumes of artwork, it may be beneficial to explore art transport services or consolidated freight shippers. These specialized services can streamline the shipping process, reduce costs, and ensure the safe transportation of your valuable pieces.

Key Factors:

  • Mounting: Choose the appropriate packaging for mounted or unmounted canvases.
  • Size: Consider the size of the artwork when selecting the packaging materials.
  • Insurance: Protect your artwork by purchasing insurance.
  • Volume: Explore consolidated freight shippers for efficient shipping.

By carefully considering these factors, you can ensure that your artwork is packaged securely and arrives at its destination in pristine condition.

MountingShipped in sturdy boxes for mounted canvases
 Rolled and shipped in tubes for unmounted canvases
SizeSmaller and medium-sized artworks shipped in padded mailers or corrugated cardboard boxes
 Larger artworks may require crating for maximum protection
InsurancePurchase insurance to protect against loss or damage
VolumeConsider consolidated freight shippers for large volumes of artwork

Preparing Your Artwork for Shipment

Properly preparing artwork for shipment is essential to ensure its safe arrival at its destination. Follow these steps to package your delicate artwork securely:

Gather the Necessary Packaging Materials

  • Acid-free paper or custom tissue paper
  • Bubble wrap or cling film
  • Cardboard corner protectors
  • Cardboard padding
  • Eco-friendly bubble wrap
  • Appropriately sized box or envelope
  • Tape
  • Shipping labels

Sanitize Your Workspace

Before handling your artwork, ensure that your workspace is clean and free from dust and debris. This will help prevent any unwanted particles from damaging your artwork during packaging.

Measure and Photograph Your Artwork

Accurately measure the dimensions of your artwork using a measuring tape. Note down the measurements, as you will need them to choose an appropriately sized box or envelope. Take high-quality photographs of your artwork from all angles for documentation purposes and in case you need to file an insurance claim in the future.

Wrap the Artwork

Begin by wrapping your artwork in acid-free paper or custom tissue paper. This protective layer will safeguard your artwork from scratches or smudges. Next, wrap the artwork in a layer of bubble wrap or cling film to provide additional cushioning. Secure the bubble wrap or cling film with tape to keep it in place.

Add Corner Protectors and Cardboard Padding

Place cardboard corner protectors on each corner of your artwork to prevent damage to the delicate edges. Then, create a smaller box within the shipping box by adding a layer of cardboard padding around the wrapped artwork. This extra layer of protection will help minimize movement and absorb any potential impacts during transit.

Place the Artwork in a Box or Envelope

Carefully place your wrapped artwork inside an appropriately sized box or envelope. Make sure there is enough space around the artwork to accommodate additional padding materials. Fill any empty spaces with eco-friendly bubble wrap to provide extra cushioning and prevent shifting during shipping.

Securely Tape and Label the Package

Seal the box or envelope securely with tape, ensuring all edges are well-sealed. Clearly label the package as fragile to alert the shipping carrier and handlers about the delicate nature of the contents. Additionally, include any necessary shipping labels or documentation required by the carrier.

By following these steps, you can package your paintings for shipping with confidence, knowing that your delicate artwork is well-protected for its journey.

Shipping Your Painting with a Tube

If you have a painting that can be rolled, utilizing a paper shipping tube can provide additional protection during transportation. Follow these steps to ensure the safe shipping of your artwork.

Materials You’ll Need:

  • Glassine paper or acid-free paper
  • A smaller tube for inner support
  • Bubble wrap or tissue paper
  • A shipping tube

1. Begin by wrapping your painting in glassine paper or acid-free paper. This will help protect the surface of the artwork.

2. Carefully roll the wrapped painting around a smaller tube to provide inner support. Make sure the painting is securely rolled and does not shift during transit.

3. For added cushioning, layer bubble wrap or tissue paper around the rolled painting. This will provide extra padding to protect the artwork from any bumps or impacts.

4. Prepare the shipping tube by ensuring it is a few inches longer than the rolled painting. This additional space will allow for added protection and prevent the artwork from coming into direct contact with the edges.

5. Fill the shipping tube with bubble wrap or tissue paper to prevent the rolled painting from moving around during transit. This will help maintain its position and further protect it from any potential damage.

6. Securely seal the shipping tube to ensure it remains intact throughout the shipping process. Additionally, clearly label the tube as “fragile” to alert the carrier to handle the package with care.

By following these steps, you can safely ship your artwork using a tube. This method provides effective protection, especially for paintings that can be rolled.

shipping artwork safely

Note: If your artwork cannot be rolled or requires additional protection, consider alternative shipping methods such as using boxes or crates, as discussed in previous sections.

Courier Options for Shipping Artwork

When it comes to shipping artwork, there are several courier options available to ensure your precious pieces arrive safely at their destination. Popular carriers such as UPS, FedEx, and USPS provide parcel shipping services specifically designed for artwork, offering convenience and peace of mind.

These carriers also offer shipping insurance at a fraction of the value of your artwork. This coverage protects against loss or damage during transit, providing an added layer of security for your valuable pieces.

The cost of shipping artwork varies depending on factors such as weight, dimensions, and distance traveled. Each carrier has its own size restrictions and dimensional weight pricing, so it’s important to verify these details before selecting a courier.

For larger paintings that exceed size restrictions, freighting may be necessary. However, freighting typically comes at a higher cost compared to parcel shipments. Consider the size and dimensions of your artwork when choosing the most suitable shipping method.

Contact your preferred carrier to inquire about their specific services and rates for shipping artwork. They can provide you with all the necessary information and assist you in selecting the best shipping option for your individual needs.

Advantages of Using an Art Handler

When it comes to transporting valuable and fragile artwork, entrusting the task to a professional art handler can provide numerous advantages. Art handlers are dedicated experts who specialize in the secure transportation of artwork. They have the necessary knowledge, training, and equipment to handle and solve any problems that may arise during the shipping process.

Here are some of the key benefits of using an art handler for your art transport services:

  • Specialized Expertise: Art handlers are well-versed in handling delicate artwork with care. They understand the unique requirements of different mediums and can provide tailored solutions to ensure the safe transportation of your valuable pieces.
  • Trained Personnel: Art handlers employ trained professionals who have extensive experience in art transportation. These individuals know how to handle, package, and load artwork properly, minimizing the risk of damage during transit.
  • Specialized Trucks: Art handlers typically have specialized vehicles designed specifically for transporting artwork. These trucks are equipped with features such as climate control systems, air-ride suspension, and customized storage compartments to ensure the artworks’ safety and stability during transportation.
  • Secure Storage Areas: Art handlers often have secure storage facilities where your artwork can be stored temporarily if needed. This ensures that your artwork is safely stored and protected until it is ready to be transported to its final destination.

“Art handlers are dedicated experts who specialize in the secure transportation of artwork, offering specialized expertise, trained personnel, specialized trucks, and secure storage areas for artwork transfers.”

While using an art handler may come with an additional cost compared to traditional shipping methods, the advantages outweigh the expense. The expertise and specialized services provided by art handlers give you peace of mind, knowing that your valuable and fragile artwork will be transported safely from point A to point B.

It is highly recommended to interview the art handler and ask questions about their handling procedures, packaging materials, insurance coverage, and any other concerns you may have. This will help you gain a better understanding of how your artwork will be handled and assure you that it is in capable hands.

art transport services

Having explored the advantages of using an art handler, the next section will delve into assessing your specific shipping needs to ensure the secure transportation of your artwork.

Assessing Your Shipping Needs

Before packing your artwork for shipment, it’s essential to assess its specific shipping needs. Consider various factors to ensure a successful and secure transport process.

Size, Shape, and Fragility

Take into account the size, shape, and fragility of your artwork. This information will help you determine the most suitable packaging materials and methods to protect your delicate pieces during transit. Fragile artwork may require extra layers of protection, such as bubble wrap or custom crates.

Distance and Transport Method

Consider the distance your artwork needs to travel and the appropriate transport method. Smaller pieces may be hand-carried or transported in your car, while larger artwork may require delivery by truck or even air freight. Research available shipping options to match your specific needs.

Packing Duration and Weight

Take into consideration how long your artwork will be packed and the weight of the materials being shipped. If your artwork will be in transit for an extended period, ensure it is adequately protected to withstand the journey. Additionally, consider the weight of the packaging materials themselves, as this could impact shipping costs.

Cost and Packaging Options

Assess the cost of materials and the available packaging options. Determine whether it is more cost-effective to build your own crate or have one professionally built. Consider the value and fragility of your artwork when making this decision.

By carefully assessing your shipping needs, you can ensure that your artwork arrives at its destination safely and in pristine condition.

Crating Principles for Artworks

Crating artworks for transit is crucial to ensure the safe shipping of delicate and valuable art objects. By creating a protective environment within a crate or shipping container, you can safeguard your artwork from potential damage during transportation. Consider the following principles when crating your artworks:

Determining Crate Size and Shape

The size and shape of the crate should be determined based on the dimensions of the artwork. Measure the length, width, and height of the object to ensure a proper fit. Oversized crates may require multiple handlers or the use of a forklift, while crates that are too small may not provide adequate protection.

Packing Based on Shape, Size, and Weight

The amount of packing materials used inside the crate should be determined by the shape, size, and weight of the artwork. Fragile or heavy pieces may require additional padding or support to prevent shifting or damage during transit. Consider using materials such as foam, felt, or ethafoam to secure the artwork inside the crate.

Considering Receiver Limitations

Before finalizing the crate design, consider any limitations or restrictions at the receiver’s end. This may include door size, available art handlers, or specific handling requirements. Ensure that the crate can be easily maneuvered and moved by the designated personnel at the destination.

Building a Suitable Crate

When constructing the crate, choose sturdy materials such as wood or plywood to provide adequate structural support. Avoid using materials that may off-gas or damage the artwork, such as certain plastics or chemically-treated wood. The crate should be securely fastened with screws or nails to ensure its stability during transportation.

Labeling and Marking

Clearly label the crate as containing fragile artwork to alert handlers and shipping personnel to exercise caution. Include information such as the artwork’s title, artist’s name, and handling instructions if necessary. This will help ensure that the artwork is treated with care throughout the shipping process.

By following these principles, you can effectively crate your artworks for shipping, providing them with the protection they need during transit.

Assessing Artwork Suitability for Travel

Before determining the crate size for shipping delicate artwork, it is crucial to assess whether the artwork is suitable for travel based on its physical condition and medium. Fragile or poorly conditioned artworks may be at higher risk of damage during transit, making it advisable to prioritize sending pieces that are less fragile and more durable. Consider the sensitivity of the medium and the overall condition of the artwork when making shipping decisions.

To ensure proper handling and minimize the risk of damage, it is recommended to schedule visits with art preparatory and lenders. During these visits, you can discuss specific shipping needs, provide detailed installation instructions, and coordinate the return shipment of the artwork. Collaborating with professionals who are experienced in art transport services can help ensure that your artwork is handled with the utmost care throughout the shipping process.

Supplies for Shipping and Crating

When it comes to packaging and transporting delicate artwork, having the right supplies is essential. To ensure the safe shipping of your paintings, make sure you have the following materials on hand:

  • Bubble Wrap: Provides cushioning and protection for fragile artwork.
  • Cellulose Wadding: Offers additional padding and support.
  • Corrugated Cardboard: Creates sturdy boxes or crates for shipping.
  • Ethafoam: Ideal for creating custom-fit padding and inserts.
  • Felt: Protects artwork from scratches and abrasions.
  • Foam: Provides shock absorption and cushioning for delicate pieces.
  • Foam Core: Lightweight material for creating rigid supports.
  • Foam Popcorn or Chips: Fills empty spaces and prevents shifting during transit.
  • Gatorfoam: Durable and lightweight material for constructing crates.
  • Various Tools: Scissors and a mat knife for cutting and shaping materials.

When selecting packing materials, prioritize archival, non-acidic options whenever possible to protect your artwork from deterioration. Remember to consider the size, weight, and fragility of the pieces to ensure you choose the appropriate supplies for shipping and crating.


What factors should I consider when mailing artwork?

When mailing artwork, it is important to consider factors such as packaging, art transport services, and shipping delicate artwork.

How should I prepare my artwork for shipment?

To prepare your artwork for shipment, you should secure the necessary packaging materials, sanitize your workspace, measure and photograph the artwork, and wrap it in protective layers.

Can I ship my painting using a tube?

Yes, if your painting can be rolled, you can ship it using a paper shipping tube for added protection.

What are the courier options for shipping artwork?

Popular courier options for shipping artwork include UPS, FedEx, and USPS, which offer parcel shipping and shipping insurance.

What are the advantages of using an art handler?

Art handlers specialize in transporting artwork and provide expertise and specialized equipment for the safe transport of valuable and fragile artwork.

How should I assess my shipping needs?

When assessing your shipping needs, consider factors such as the size, shape, and fragility of the artwork, as well as the distance it needs to travel.

What are the crating principles for artworks?

Crating artworks for shipping involves determining the appropriate size of the crate or shipping container, considering the shape, size, and weight of the artwork, and addressing any limitations at the receiver’s end.

How should I assess the suitability of artwork for travel?

Assess the suitability of artwork for travel based on its physical condition and medium. Fragile or poorly conditioned artworks may be further damaged in transit, so it is advisable to send pieces that are less fragile and more durable.

What supplies do I need for shipping and crating?

When shipping and crating artwork, you will need supplies such as bubble wrap, cellulose wadding, corrugated cardboard, ethafoam, felt, foam, tools like scissors and a mat knife, and archival, non-acidic materials to protect the artwork.


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