I recently received a few questions from artist friends on how to package a painting for a safe shipping. As I've just sold another painting on Saatchi Art, I thought it may be useful to document a step by step process. I include here only recommendations for painting sizes up to 100x100cm (40x40inches) as above this size the process can be slightly different. I'm also referring to paintings that you have to ship flat and not rolled.
I wrap the painting with one of these papers:
glassine art paper my favourite choice for any type of painting,
or in alternative eco-friendly wrapping paper
or archival tissue paper especially for work on paper
It's important to add a layer of untextured paper to protect the finish of the painting. I often finish my artworks with beeswax, whether on canvas or wooden panel or paper. Wax of course is not stabilised, it changes with the temperature so adding a layer of untextured and non-sticky paper on the surface of the artwork prevents any sort of "stamping" effect that can result from the pressure of other materials while in transit. For example if you put bubble wrap or corrugated cardboard in direct contact with the surface of your painting you may find that the circular shapes of the bubbles or the lines of the corrugated cardboard have been "impressed" on the painting. Although this damage can be fixed by adding another layer of wax or sealer, it's not nice if this happens to your collector when unwrapping the painting in their home and you cannot teleport yourself there to fix your artwork.
Add corners to your painting. I usually make the protection for corners with cardboard leftovers or I reuse the ones I have received with art material deliveries. I'm against buying specific plastic materials as honestly I don't want to add more on this planet than we already have around. In every house there are materials we can reuse and give them new function and new life. In this case, in the pictures below, I've reused corners from an order of blank canvases. I've put 2 protection on each corner: one above and the other below and taped them together.
Add cushioning. Also in this case I avoid buying more plastic, so my options are:
reusing plastic bubble wrap received with deliveries
or if I don't have anything around in that moment I buy eco-friendly cardboard bubble wrap like this one.
I make sure there are at least 3 or 4 layers of bubble wrap in both horizontal and vertical directions, so everything is wrapped – edges included.
Add more edges protection. To make sure the edges are protected all around I use one of these:
add more bubble wrap rolled and taped along the edges
or I create wedges with foam boards (see time-lapse video at the end of this post)
or I reuse polystyrene I already have and cut it to size to create a bit of thickness all around the painting as I've done in the picture here below.
Time to add front and back protection. In this case I may use:
sheets of foam boards
or double or triple strength cardboard sheets (basically those sheets of cardboard that don't bend even if you apply some pressure)
My choice is always based on reducing waste and reusing what I already have if that's sturdy enough. In this case I put strong cardboard sheets on the front and back of the painting and tape it to the 'edges protection' so the artwork is sandwiched in.
Final box. It has to be double or triple strength cardboard. Also in this case I tend to reuse art material packaging or amazon deliveries boxes. As you may have noticed from all the pictures above... the background of this area of my studio is pretty much dedicated to storing cardboard boxes :)
It's not necessary to find the box of the matching size of your painting as long as you can shape the cardboard you have to fit it tightly around your artwork. Make sure to add:
many layers of tape in the corners and all along the edges.
"fragile" stickers or tape as these are important too! I usually get the eco friendly "fragile" tape or print my own eco-friendly labels on biodegradable paper.
These are the 6 steps that will make your artwork, your collector and yourself happy along the entire journey. Keep scrolling down for the timelapse video using alternative packaging and also a MUST DO tip you should not forget to perform while wrapping your painting.
Timelapse video of packaging with some different materials
DO NOT FORGET: Take pictures of all your steps!!
It's absolutely essential you take pictures of your steps in a good lighting to show the details of your wrapping. This time your pictures are not for showing off your sale on social media, but for something way more important. Why? Because if something goes wrong in transit with the courier, bear in mind they will blame you! it's vital you can show them all the pictures of your packaging, layer by layer, as proof of condition. Many times I've read or heard unpleasant stories from artist friends who couldn't claim it was not their fault simply because they had no pictures of their packaging and as a result did not receive insurance refund. Happy art shipping!