Your fine art prints are a testament to your creativity and skill as an artist. However, the journey doesn't end with the final brushstroke; it extends to making sure your prints reach their collectors in the best condition possible.
Whether you’re an emerging artist sharing your work for the first time or an established one looking to refine your packing and shipping methods, this blog post shares practical tips and strategies for protecting your fine art prints during transit.
Navigating the world of packaging and shipping can be daunting, especially when it comes to delicate works of art. If you have any questions or would like to learn more about packaging materials, feel free to call, send us an email, or stop by the studio to chat with our printing team.
Choosing the Right Packing and Shipping Materials
When packing and shipping your artwork, it’s important to select materials that will, first and foremost, keep your artwork safe and protected. However, having aesthetically pleasing packaging that represents you and your brand is also imperative. The packaging is the first thing your customers will see when they receive your art prints, so don’t forget to add those extra touches to help your presentation stand out.
In general, the materials you will need include: a sturdy backing board, acid-free clear sleeve and/or glassine paper, branding inserts, a digital scale, scissors, packing tape, bubble wrap or packing paper, protective stickers, and either rigid mailers, sturdy cardboard boxes, or art mailing tubes. Let’s dive into each of these a bit further:
Sturdy backing board - Securing your art prints to a backing board is an easy step to protect your work from bending during transit. Backing boards are already included if your art prints are matted; however, if you are shipping un-matted prints, you will need to get sturdy chipboard or backing boards separately.
Acid-free clear sleeve and/or glassine paper - Whether you package your art prints in a clear bag, wrap it in glassine paper, or do a combination of both, make sure your materials are acid-free. Choosing acid-free packing materials is essential to ensure your artwork doesn’t fade or yellow over time.
Branding inserts - Including branding materials in your packaging can be a beautiful way to keep you and your art business top of mind for your customers. Whether it’s a simple “thank you” postcard, a discount code for future orders, a sneak peek of additional artwork you have available, or even just a logo sticker in your brand colors with links to your website or Instagram account, this is an easy step that helps foster a deeper connection with your collectors.
Rigid mailers, sturdy cardboard boxes, and/or art mailing tubes - We’ll go more in depth in each of these items later in this blog post, but there are several options for shipping your artwork depending on the size and quantity of your prints. Smaller prints (typically up to 11x14 inches) are most commonly shipped in rigid mailers or cardboard boxes, while larger prints are often rolled into art mailing tubes.
Packing paper and/or bubble wrap - As you assemble your shipment, you will need packing paper, bubble wrap, foam spacers, or other filling materials to prevent your artwork from sliding around and getting damaged during transit. For cardboard boxes, you will want to fill any open space with packing paper to help keep the items in place. If you have open space in your mailing tubes, make sure to add packing paper or spacers at either end. In any case, if you shake your package and hear movement, you will need to add more filling. Any movement will only get worse during transit. If you want to go the extra mile, you can even purchase packing paper with your logo and brand colors on it!
Protective stickers - While adding “FRAGILE” or “Do not bend” stickers does not guarantee your package will arrive safely, it’s a simple step to remind postal workers to handle your artwork with extra care. It also shows your customers you did everything in your control to get your artwork to them in the best condition possible.
Other materials - Last, but certainly not least, you will need the basic shipping supplies, including: a digital scale to weigh your package (if shipping from home), packing tape, scissors, and a tape measure.
Now that you have gathered all the necessary supplies, let’s get into shipping methods below.
Shipping Smaller Prints in a Rigid Mailer or Cardboard Box
As mentioned above, smaller art prints (up to 11x14 inches) are typically shipped flat. If you are shipping one or two prints at a time, it’s best to use a sturdy rigid mailer. This, along with your backing boards, will help ensure your art prints stay flat and avoid any bending during the shipping process. One of our favorite places to purchase dependable rigid mailers is Ecoenclose. Not only are these mailers extremely sturdy, they are also plastic-free and constructed with 90% post-consumer waste that has been diverted from the landfill…. a win for you, your customers, and the planet!
If you are shipping multiple prints at once, you will need to use a corrugated cardboard box, as most rigid mailers can only fit one or two prints at a time. When using boxes, make sure to fill any extra space with packing paper or bubble wrap. It is best to overfill the box with packing paper, so your artwork is fully secure once the box is sealed.
Shipping Large Art Prints in a Tube
When working with larger prints, flat shipping can get a little tricky, not to mention expensive! This is why many artists opt for art mailing tubes instead.
In this case, it is best to place your artwork in between two sheets of acid-free glassine paper and roll it carefully with foam or bubble wrap for added protection. Once the rolled artwork has been safely sealed, slide it into a rigid tube with just a couple inches on either side, and secure with scrunched packing paper or foam inserts. Add the end caps and give your tube a little shake to make sure the artwork is secure before sealing them shut with packing tape.
For artwork of extra high value, you may consider placing the original tube inside of an even larger tube for additional protection. If you do so, make sure to add your protective filling to secure the smaller tube inside of the larger one so there is no movement during transit.
Insurance & Tracking
Speaking of higher value artwork, it is also a good idea to get tracking codes and purchase insurance when shipping your art prints. Insurance coverage varies depending on shipping carriers, but it is always worth looking into.
It is also best practice to have thorough documentation of the original condition of the artwork and the steps you took to package it safely in case you need to make an insurance claim after delivery.
A Journey of Care and Craftsmanship
Throughout this article, we dove into the intricate art of packaging and shipping fine art prints and its importance in your overall creative process. Remember the key takeaways we've shared and put them into practice as you send your art out into the world. If you ever find yourself in need of guidance, don't hesitate to reach out to us. We're here to support your artistic journey in any way we can. Happy creating!