How To Pack Your Paintings For Shipping

Do you know how to pack your paintings for shipping? An experienced art handler shares his professional expertise so that you can learn how to pack your art.

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Do you know how to pack your paintings for shipping? Packing paintings can seem like a daunting task and many artists worry about whether they’re packing them correctly –  it’s certainly true that much damage can be avoided by packing artwork properly. In this video tutorial, art handler Peter shares his professional expertise with simple instructions to help you pack your artwork like a pro.


Our video demonstrates how to pack a painting as well as a framed photograph. Take a look at some of the video’s highlighted points…

Setup

First of all, you’re going to need some supplies (0:14):

  • Packing tape (tape gun recommended)
  • Artist tape (like masking tape but it’s acid free and it’s easily removable)
  • Exacto knife or a pair of scissors
  • Measuring tape
  • Glassine (a paper that is water- and grease-resistant, and it’s not going to stick to the surface of your painting)
  • Foam or a blanket (soft surface)
  • Bubble-wrap or sheets of Styrofoam (for padding)
  • Cardboard box(es)
For packing framed work, you’re also going to need:
  • Cardboard corners
  • Brown paper

And for a mounted photograph or anything high glossy:

  • Nitrile or art handling cloth gloves

Packing for shipping

Let’s Begin

But first, make sure your hands are clean!

  1. Glassine tips (1:45):
  • Put your painting face down on the glassine, leaving enough room to wrap around the edges.
  • Don’t use packing tape, only artist tape here!
  • Fold the end of artist tape to leave little nub to grab the tape with (so that it can be easily removed when it comes time to unpack).

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Packing for shipping2

  • Tape all of the longest edges first (as when wrapping a present).
  • Try to tape onto the glassine itself.
  • The less tape that actually goes onto a piece, the better.

 

2. Bubble Wrap tips (3:03):

  • Place the surface of your painting face-down against the flat or the smooth side of the bubble wrap. If you put the raised side of the bubble wrap against your piece, there is a chance that it might leave an impression of the bubbles on your painting.
  • You may need to wrap a piece in multiple layers of bubble wrap.
  • You’ll want to make sure that you have at least two inches of extra bubble wrap on either side.

Packing for shipping3

 

  • Now you can use packing tape across the seam of the bubble wrap to secure it.
  • Push down on  wrap before folding to leave extra padding on the sides of the piece.

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3. Boxing tips (7:56):

  • Your box is going to be pushed and slid everywhere on the delivery truck, so make sure to completely tape up all the sides of your box. 

Packing for shipping4

 

  • To make a box top, you’ll need a scoreline for the cardboard to easily fold; to do this, run the dull end of your knife (blade not extended) along a line you’ve created with your pen & measuring tape.
  • Keep room for extra protective padding and use a box a little bit bigger than your piece.
  • If packing more than one piece into a box, put some cardboard between them so that the front of the canvases are facing each other in the box.

Packing for shipping5

  • After taping, attach to the large side of the box the packing labels as well as the exhibition forms that we emailed to you.
  • We advise against the use of packing peanuts. If the box is damaged the peanuts will spill out of any hole in the box and your work may get damaged as well.

 

Packing Framed Art (13:49):

When packing a framed piece of artwork, especially one with glass, we do things a little bit differently.

  • Use wider artist tape and tape off the glass in a star pattern- that way, if it were to break during transit it wouldn’t damage your artwork.

Packing for shipping6

  • Then, wrap the whole piece in brown paper (again, as you would wrap a present).
  • Adding protective cardboard corners is one of the most important elements to packing a framed piece.

Packing for shipping7

  • Next, wrap in two layers of small bubble wrap (and more large bubble wrap, depending on the size of the box you’re using).
  • Again, leave at least two inches on the sides for extra padding.
  • Add a cardboard base layer (before or after the small bubble wrap).

Index:
0:14 – Supplies
0:57 – Set Up
1:45 – Glassine
3:03 – Bubble Wrap
7:56 – Boxing
9:31 – Making A Box Top
11:27 – Padding
12:13 – Multiple Works
12:31 – Closing the Box
13:15 – Attaching Forms
13:36 – Packing Advice
13:49 – Packing Framed Art
14:50 – Cardboard Corners

 

With over 30 years of experience, Agora Gallery offers artists the opportunity to present their work to a broad range of national and international art collectors and buyers. Looking for an opportunity to enhance your career? Visit our Gallery Representation And Artist Promotion page for more information.

Have more questions? Comment below or email us at blogs@agora-gallery.com


rolling artwork feature image Are you going to be shipping your artwork rolled in a tube? We’ve got a guide for that too!

This post is also available in: Spanish

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23 comments

  • I found this video MOST informative. Thank you!

  • Thanks very much for this video. Any suggestion for those like me who make 3D sculpture-paintings?

    • Hi Barbara,

      Ensure your sculptures are packed carefully to minimize breakages.

  • About the large canvas, is possible that the bubble wrap can exert pressure causing it to sink ?… especially in long distances.

    • Hi Gary! If packed properly, it shouldn’t damage the canvas.

  • Thank you SO much for this wonderfully concise and informative video! Many artists (like me!) have a difficult time with thus important left-brain activity! What is a good source for the boxes and glassine?

    • Thank you, Linda! Any local DIY store should have for sale boxes and glassine.

  • There are many tips on the Internet regarding packing art work for posting but so much better to actually see a demonstration taking us through it step by step. Thank you for an extremely informative video.
    Best wishes
    Helen

    • Hi Helen! We’re glad you found our article useful!

  • Thank you for sharing. Packing & shipping’ art is a much overlooked, but an important topic. We all go to the trouble of creating great artwork, so we need to make sure it that we pack it well so it gets ‘there’ safely!

  • Thank you so much for sharing this informative article. In a couple of days, I am moving into my new house in Santa Monica with the help of a professional moving company. I am really worried about my artworks that’s why I took the responsibility of packing them myself. Hope I can pack it myself.

  • I’m moving approximately 40 paintings (about 25 of them are fairly large… over 5 or 6’… one is 7′ long) in a Smart Box (like one of those pods but smaller)… I’m thinking of using heavy duty plastic to cover, then bubble wrap each side like a present, and then add cardboard sheets in between. If the paintings are front to front, I know for sure that I need cardboard… but when they face back to back (depths of canvases are 1.75), should I put sheets of cardboard in there (even though both paintings will be protected by bubble wrap on their back sides? I hope this question makes sense!!

    Thank you! GREAT tutorial, by the way… wish I would have seen it before I’ve shipped out art. I’ve been lucky… but certainly did not go to the lengths (or through as much bubble wrap!) as you. Thanks for the easy-to-follow instructions!

    • Dear Randi,

      That would be a good idea! The more the protection, the better it is.

      We are glad the article helped!

  • Hi, what size of Bubble you are using for this job, for example 3/16″, 5/16″ or 1/2″ Thanks

    • Dear Carlos,

      It really depends on how fragile the work is. If glass is involved go for the bigger size, but if its only canvas or metal, the smaller sized one will work just fine.

  • Great demo! I have been selling paintings for my daughter, Jennifer’s foundation Uweza, youth 13-22 years of age, such incredible talent. I like to bubble wrap the paintings so people can transport them safely to their car.

    Your video was extremely helpful!

    With much gratitude,
    Diane Sapitro

  • I have been wondering how I can best ship paintings and this has answered a lot of questions I’ve had. I’ve looked far and wide for specific mailing containers for paintings and found little help. This method looks like it will work nicely for the originals, and I can use mailing tubes for prints!

  • I was stressing about mailing an oil painting, I wasn’t sure how to protect it properly from possible moisture and damage. I was really uncomfortable as to what material could touch the oil painting, the glassine answered that question. I did opt to use a few layers of styrofoam sheets as well as bubblewrap for padding. So happy I found this tutorial, it answered all of my questions for shipping this piece. Super professional video! Now to make the box. Thank you-Lenore

  • I will be packing a large (nearly 5′ wide) painting for a move. The painting uses a lot of impasto. It’s about 55 years old, and has had some restoration done including the addition of a backing board to help stabilize the canvas. The painting has a simple wooden frame that is pretty much flush with the surface of the painting. Given the size, we’ll be crating the painting. Is there anything special we need to do given the impasto? Also, your video showed wonderfully wide bubble wrap… I probably can’t get anything wider than 24 inches and I was wondering how that might affect the wrapping technique. Thanks!

    • Dear Jim, there are various types of impasto and various ways to make sure the artwork is safely packed. We would suggest that for this particular artwork your best bet would be to contact a fine art shipping company and have them pack it professionally.

  • My daughter has been painting for a year or two now. She has gotten so good that we are actually going to enter her paintings into a contest, so we need to ship some of them out of state. I really appreciated this post because the last thing we would want to do is somehow mess up the paintings during packaging and transportation. Thanks for sharing!

    • Dear Kyler, thank you for visiting! We’re very glad we could help. Wishing your daughter good luck and let us know how she does!