How To Package an Artwork for Shipping

If you want to send an artwork by courier, the last thing you want is for it to arrive in less than perfect condition. If you are sending a framed print or a stand-alone canvas, all you need are some packaging materials, a few basic tools, a good reliable courier and these useful packing tips.

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In this blog, we will discuss how to package both a canvas and a glass print. With the former, your main goal is to avoid the canvas being punctured, with the latter you want to ensure the glass or frame isn’t damaged, as well as the artwork itself.


Let’s be clear, this is not a guide to shipping enormous Old Masters or very high-value artworks. For that a specialist courier is required. We are going to show you how a reasonably sized, framed or unframed artwork can be shipped safely and securely. For our purposes today, we have chosen a relatively small glass, framed print. For a canvas, the rules are exactly the same minus a couple of steps. For a larger artwork, the principles remain the same, just scaled up.

What Do I Need to Package Artwork?:

  • Scissors or Stanley knife
  • Strong packaging tape
  • Plastic bags
  • Protective foam sheet
  • Foam board
  • Triple-ply cardboard or cardboard box in good condition


Protecting the Artwork: Part 1
For our framed print, first of all we are deconstructing the frame to allow us to give the glass some insulation. Removing the glass, we are wrapping this in thinner foam insulation for protection against scratching. This is placed around the glass, avoiding any damage to the artwork itself. You do not want any adhesive residue on your photograph or print. Once completed, we reconfigure the frame.


Frame Protection
With our framed print, the frame itself should be ok within the final package, but  a little extra protection is never a bad idea. So in this case we have added rigid plastic corner protectors to give the most vulnerable part of the frame additional protection. Technically this is optional and not advised on a stand-alone canvas.


Seal from Damp & Dust
Whether you are shipping a simple canvas or a frame with glass, you will want to insulate your artwork from damp or dust. This is a relatively simple procedure. Take a clean plastic bag, or bin bag, wrap the framed work or canvas and seal with sellotape (or your packaging tape).


Protecting the Artwork: Part 2
Next we have cut out artwork sized ‘slabs’ of insulating foam. These are available in a variety of thicknesses from any packaging store or online shop and should not be overly expensive. For this artwork (roughly A4/US letter), the foam cost roughly £1. Trace round the artwork (canvas or frame) and with your Stanley knife or scissors cut out two artwork sized blocks. Now we are going to make a sandwich.

If you have real trouble locating the foam, bubble wrap is an acceptable alternative. Just replicate the following process but by wrapping the artwork in bubble wrap.


So with our artwork neatly ‘sandwiched’ in foam, we seal the sandwich with our packaging tape so all is secure.

Customs Documents & Shipping Labels

We advise our clients to always place duplicate shipping labels, and if sending internationally outside the European Union, the required customs documents. These should be generated as part of the courier booking process, all you need is a printer. Include these before you start on the outer packaging.


‘Boxing’ the Artwork
Whereas most packing involves placing wrapped items in a box surrounded and immersed in packaging chips, this is a better solution for an artwork of this kind. Packaging chips move around and can settle during transit so the artwork could end up less than optimally protected. We’ve all wrapped a Christmas or birthday present so this is roughly the same process, but with cardboard instead of paper.


Cutting out an appropriately sized piece of cardboard from a box side or a purchased sheet of cardboard, we have scored where we need to bend it round the package to make life easier. Now we simply package up the item so the whole is securely enclosed in its cardboard outer. This is not an aesthetic exercise, we are happy to sacrifice looks for effectiveness.

If there is wording, text or barcodes on the box you are using, make sure you conceal this with paper or black it out with a marker. Doing so will avoid confusion, when the courier collects. Be extra careful with labels, custom forms and ensuring there are no barcodes visible. Otherwise, you may experience delays.


Sealing the Box
Just as you would with any packaging for courier, it is important that all the seams and joins are robustly secured, with particular attention paid to the corners. Use your packaging tape to reinforce the whole package, making sure you have left space to attach your shipping labels.

How to Find the Best Courier
Source a good, reliable courier to send your package. You want to know that after all your efforts, it will be afforded the same consideration in transit. Cheapest isn’t always best but an aggregated courier working with premium partner carriers is a good bet. Then you get the benefits of a leading carrier such as UPS, FedEx or DPD without having to pay full whack.

Check also, does your courier offers free insurance cover, full parcel tracking for you to monitor things in transit and a full range of delivery services. This may be urgent time-sensitive shipment or something that can go on a slower Economy delivery. Check your courier offers the full range.

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