Shipping Artwork-Part two


Shipping Artwork – PART TWO – Shipping framed artwork.

We get calls from people weekly about helping them ship their artwork.  Whether you are selling or simply shipping a gift to someone you love, your worst nightmare is that your artwork arrives bent or broken.  Simply putting “Fragile” on a package doesn’t guarantee that your parcel will survive today’s fast paced and automated shipping process.

Our advice to anyone wanting to ship artwork, either framed or flat, is trust the professionals and as a basic rules of thumb, don’t try this at home. Although we don’t offer packaging services here at the gallery, we can recommend local shippers who have the experience and track record for these services.   For years now, we have relied on the services of ASA postal for our shipping needs.


If you’re going to attempt DIY shipping, here are some basic rules to follow:

  1. OVERPACKAGE – Never skimp on the amount of packaging you use to secure your item.  It may be more expensive to double box and add layers but it is well worth it to insure safe delivery. Even a smaller item can be susceptible to damage in the shipping process.
  2. LEAVE SPACE – Around your artwork, always leave plenty of space in the packaging. This applies to not only the front and back but also around the perimeter of the frame. Too many artworks are damaged because they are dropped on the corner, causing the frame to separate or worse, creating a splinter in the glass, which can shatter the piece.
  3. REMOVE GLASS- Whenever possible, my best advice is to remove the glass completely before shipping. Keep in mind that glass is more of a liquid than a solid.  Because of it’s fragile molecular structure, it takes very little to start a crack which can run or shatter, causing damage to the art and matting in your project.
  4. Let the recipient find a frame shop or even a hardware store that can replace the glass when it arrives. The money they save in shipping cost(without the weight of the glass), plus the extra security in knowing that the artwork is safer because you’ve taken the glass out, is well worth it.
  5. If something happens to the artwork, it is not very likely that you will be able to settle up with any of the major carriers to your satisfaction. Most shippers have limited liability for breakage and damage and we’ve found that with items that are glazed, it’s very difficult to prove to their estimators that your packaging was adequate to secure the item.
  6. Some suppliers have packing and shipping services and will crate items in specially designed packaging for framed artwork. If the artwork is large or expensive, it is probably worthwhile to use their recommended containers.
  7. For non-glazed (glassed) items like canvases or works on board, your primary goal is protecting the surface of the artwork and the framing.
  8. Make sure that the artwork is dry and setup enough to ship. This is especially important in original oils or acrylics. Packaging material should never be taped to the surface or in most cases, be in direct contact with the pigments. Use a barrier paper like wax paper or other non-stick material around the art if not protected by a frame.
  9. Again, caution must be taken to over package the artwork. Where two layers of padding might be okay, use three to four.  The more space around the artwork, the safer it is.


  1. INSURE YOUR SHIPMENT – Insurance is almost essential in shipping fine art. In most cases, I recommend insuring the package for 1 1/2 times the value of the artwork. The insurance should cover both damage and potential loss of item (sometimes, they do get lost).
  2. TRUST THE PROFESSIONALS – If in doubt, take you artwork to a reputable packaging place/shipper.  The will usually be your best resource for proper techniques and materials needed for your particular type of artwork.


Here are some helpful links from various shippers and other galleries that might prove helpful: