Old Masters Academy

NEW!! Fine Art Shipping and Packing




When it comes to packing and shipping Fine Art, there are no shortcuts. You either do it right the first time or you suffer the consequences. If you are an art dealer, artist, publisher, photographer or even a shipping service, and you want to save some time and money, than this information will come in handy.

The tips, tricks and advice I am offering up have been gained from many expensive lessons learned about what to do, what to avoid and what not to do. Shipping costs and insurances are going up and up, so every little bit of advice helps. These suggestions are some easy but effective ways to avoid the pitfalls of what I like to call “Bad Shipping practices”.

Packing paintings – If you plan to ship a painting with or without frame, I highly recommend paper wrapping the entire work. This serves two purposes. One is the obvious; it protects the surface of the painting. It also serves to show your buyer/client that you care about the piece and that it wasn’t just another sale. Remember, “A happy client is a client for life”.

The most cost effective way to ship a painting is with an Art Shipping Strongbox. You can purchase these boxes with or without an ABS Liner. For paintings of higher value I strongly recommend going with the Lined Box. These boxes come in several different sizes and are the easiest, quickest, safest and most affordable way to ship. Since I started using these strongboxes, I have not experienced any problems whatsoever.

If you plan to bubble wrap your paintings, here is what I recommend. Take a piece of cardboard and cover the face of the painting and frame before bubble wrapping. You can tape this directly to the paper wrap. In order to insure a safe transit in a cardboard box, you need to give 3 – 4 inches of bubble thickness. Make sure the sides and corners of painting have extra padding as these are generally the problem areas in shipping. If you plan to build a crate, 2 – 3 inches of bubble wrap is sufficient.

Once you have wrapped the painting, make sure to line the inside of the cardboard box with extra sheets of cardboard and bubble wrap. This helps protect the wrapped piece from possible puncture or tears to the box. This extra step has saved me thousands of dollars alone.

One more thing, before sealing up the box, put a copy of the invoice inside the box. Many packages are getting damaged or lost these days, so the invoice helps prove the contents. Also, if the shipping label happens to fall off or gets removed accidentally (believe it, it happens!) the delivery person has a way to identify where it is going. “The only thing worse than a damaged piece of art is a LOST piece of art”. Though it is not necessary, writing the delivery address and contact number on the box can prevent many headaches also.

If you plan to ship with a wooden crate, I recommend cutting two 1×2 inch wood boards the width of the inside of the crate. Press them down on the bubble wrap, not to hard, but just firm enough to hold the painting from moving around. You can secure the wood bars with screws on either end of the crate. You should also take a marker and circle the screw heads and make a note, “Please Remove”. This helps the new owner know what to take apart and what not to. Finally, don’t forget to write the delivery address on the crate so you know it makes it to its destination.

Because most shipping services now limit their liability to $500.00, it would be wise to insure the shipment yourself. If this is not an option, then the next best thing to do is ship via Fed-Ex next day delivery. The reason this is a safe bet is because Fed-Ex will leave next day shipments on the trucks instead of he warehouse, or they will hand carry them through the shipping process. Since most of the damage comes from aggressive handling, the less time your shipment spends in transit, the safer it is.

If you can ship with UPS, and you need to carry insurance on your shipment, then UPS is definitely the way to go. The safe bet is to insure the artwork, especially if the art is expensive or fragile. No need taking chances. Note: The most cost effective way to send a high-value piece of art is to use a Strongbox, insure the package for $3,500 or more and send it Standard overnight or 2-day. UPS hand carries all next day and 2 day packages with high values over $3,500. It’s safe and cost friendly.

When it comes to shipping framed prints, the rules are the same with a few added precautions. Remember to place Glass Skin protective tape over the glass or Plexiglas on the artwork. Glass Skin protects the print from accidental breakage or shattering of the glass or Plexiglas. It is easy to apply and remove, and is a must when shipping print art under glass or Plexiglas.

Print Pads are the best method for shipping photographs, prints or any other flat media. These come in Lined and Unlined just like the Strongboxes. Each Print Pad can hold up to 8 individual prints. They are surely the fastest and safest way to ship flat art. Print pads come in various sizes, and best of all, they are reusable. Be sure to place a copy of the invoice in the box or in the packing slip pouch, and write the delivery address on the box as with the Strongbox.

If you choose to ship without a Print Pad then the next best way to pack the prints is to cut three pieces of cardboard approximately 4″ larger on each side, than the print you intend to ship. Take one of the pieces of cardboard and cut out the center about 1/4 inch larger than the dimensions as the largest print. Next you should once again wrap each print in either wax paper or very fine thickness paper. The paper wrap should be secured with tape, preferably a less tacky blue utility tape. You don’t want to use shipping tape or utility tape.

Place the cut out cardboard on top of one of the full sheets of cardboard. Next you place the prints in the center of the cutout, careful not to bend the edges. Finally you place the larger outer cardboard piece on top of the cut out with the prints, making a sandwich of the prints. Take some heavy duty shipping tape and go around the perimeter of the flat box to insure a tight seal. I suggest writing on the box “Caution when opening” Prints inside. You don’t want the recipient to ruin the prints cutting open the box.

I hope these few pointers help you with your Fine Art shipping.

Joseph Manqueros

Categorized: Art Materials , News

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