ArtSmarts is an educational series meant to provide tips and advice for artists. Each post covers a different topic with real world situations and input from industry experts. Do you have a topic you’d like to see covered? Email Kristina at kcoopman@riverartsinc.org with your ArtSmarts suggestion!


Shipping Your Artwork

Scroll down for further info and direct links to product recommendations!


  1. Example of reasons you would have to ship your artwork
    1. You’ve been accepted into a show across the country (ex: Wings & Water)
    2. A customer purchased your piece
  2. Different rules apply to different types of work, but there are a few basics:
    1. Artwork should be dry (this should be a given, but you’d be surprised)
    2. Know the dimensions of your piece
    3. Follow the instructions from the hosting gallery, if applicable. They will outline what format they prefer to receive works
    4. Work with your local FedEx or UPS store if possible. Accounts are free and their employees can recommend the best materials. UPS will even pack it for you and insure it. Return shipping is very easy
    5. ABSOLUTELY, NEVER, EVER, FOR ANY REASON, USE PACKING PEANUTS
  3. Framed artwork:
    1. Corners are the most vulnerable area
      1. Cardboard corners work great. Secure with cling wrap or artists tape
    2. Glass is second most vulnerable area
      1. Sandwich piece between two sheets of foamcore, secure with tape
    3. Best recommendation: Foam art boxes
      1. Foam is removable, adjustable to the size of your piece
      2. You don’t have to purchase separate box filler
      3. Easy in, easy out for hosting gallery
      4. Reusable, making it a good investment
      5. Starting around $40
      6. Brands:
        1. https://masterpak-usa.com/
        2. https://airfloatsystems.com/strongbox
        3. https://www.uline.com/BL_2356/Deluxe-Artwork-Shippers?keywords=artwork+boxes
  4. 3D artwork:
    1. Weigh your piece in advance, you can call and get an estimate from UPS or FedEx
    2. If dimensions are small enough, flat rate boxes are a great option
    3. Large pieces may require building a custom crate
      1. Saatchi Art has a great tutorial
      2. Allow space for the artwork to be wrapped, little to no movement
      3. Screw together plywood crate using phillips or flathead screws. Avoid screws with odd/uncommon bit shapes
      4. Clearly label the side to meant to unscrew
  5. Box filling product recommendations:
    1. Instapack foam sheets: form to the edges of your work in the box. Very easy
    2. Foam artwork shippers (see above)
  6. What to avoid:
    1. PACKING PEANUTS
    2. Scraps, torn up pieces
    3. Using lots of packing tape on bubble wrap.
    4. Movement of any kind inside the box means damage could happen
  7. What to strive for:
    1. A simple, easy to follow unpacking process. Galleries will re-pack and return artwork in the same manner it’s sent
    2. Feel free to send along packaging instructions. Ex: how to re-pack a quilt in a tube requires specific handling instructions. Yes, please send that along!

*River Arts Inc does not receive any portion of sales for these links. They’re just our favorites to recommend!