How Do I Protect My Artwork from Being Damaged During Shipping?

Artists and art collectors alike share a common (and justified) fear: the potential for damage to your art during shipping. Artwork is delicate, but most movers and shipping companies are not. For an art collector, there’s nothing more devastating than when you’ve finally found that perfect piece for your home, and upon receiving the order the piece is so damaged that you either have to ship it back in hopes of getting it fixed, or write it off as a total loss (or hope that nobody will notice the damage, although YOU always will). For an artist, nobody wants their piece of art – which is a piece of their soul – to be ruined because of incorrect packaging, shipping and handling practices.

While bubble wrap may seem like a good idea, it has been demonstrated that the “bubbles” can end up sticking to the varnish of the painting—leaving an unsightly pattern of bubble-wrap pits and craters all over the piece. So, if not bubble wrap, how do you protect your artwork from shipping damage? Take a look at these four ways to keep your artwork from being damaged during shipping.

Wrap the Piece in Acid-Free Paper First

If you’re an artist shipping your piece to a buyer, a good way to ensure your artwork stays intact is by first wrapping it in acid paper before using the bubble wrap or our “Gallery Pouch”—which you’ll learn more about below. The acid-free paper is the same material used in archival documents. It will protect the painting from being penetrated by materials that could potentially damage or leave an imprint on the piece.

Always Use “Fragile” Labels

In the movie A Christmas Story, Ralphie’s dad receives his “major award” in a big box marked “Fra-gee-lay.” Well, you need to do the same when shipping artwork. This may be a no-brainier for some people, but using “fragile” labels on your package might make the delivery companies think twice about how they are handling your piece. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case, and some shipping companies simply ignore “fragile” labels and “handle with care” signs. It’s worth a shot though. Placing a fragile label on the package doesn’t take much time and doing so means the shippers are at least somewhat aware that it should be handled delicately. If that label isn’t on the package, there’s no way for them to know it’s fragile, so you’re not even giving them a chance to handle the it differently than how they handle all the other packages.

Use Only High-Quality Packing Tape

Using a high-quality packing tape is important. It will help the package stay together during the shipping process (which usually involves a lot of manhandling and tossing into trucks). You also want to be sure the piece itself is protected inside the package. Taping a wrapped painting to a sheet of foam board will provide extra support and protection—just don’t wrap the piece in plain bubble wrap!

Use GalleryPouch Instead of Bubble Wrap

While some people may be willing to take the risk of using regular bubble wrap by turning the material outward (so the bubbles aren’t touching the piece), that’s still not a 100-percent foolproof way to protect your artwork. GalleryPouch bubble bags are a type of heavy-duty bubble wrap made specifically for shipping art. Unlike regular bubble wrap, the GalleryPouch is smooth on both sides, eliminating the chance that your piece will have tiny bubble patterns engrained in its surface upon arrival at its shipping destination. The GalleryPouch is constructed with 3/16-inch polyethylene, a heavyweight and heavy-duty material. It provides extreme support while still allowing the artwork to easily be seen through the wrapping. You can even create your own custom size for shipping artwork of all dimensions. We can create a custom GalleryPouch for you up to 52” x 156”. Read here about how the GalleryPouch kept one artist’s work from being damaged during transport to a gallery exhibit.

About the author

author

Mark Rogers is an amateur photographer and the founder of Frame Destination, Inc. In 2004 Mark realized the framing industry was not keeping up with the evolution of photography via new digital technology and started Frame Destination in his garage. Now his company has thousands of do-it-yourself framing customers across the US that it helps with its 11,000 square feet production facility in Dallas, TX.

2 thoughts on “How Do I Protect My Artwork from Being Damaged During Shipping?”

  • Richard Palmer

    Using high-quality materials to pack your stuff is the most important thing, I can't stress this enough! It just feels right, and that's why Apple products are so popular!

    Reply
  • Kat

    I completely understand now how to protect artworks from getting damaged. Thanks to this best write up!

    Reply

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