The safety of your artwork depends greatly upon the type and quality of your packaging materials. Below are some DOs and DON'Ts regarding what packaging materials you should and should not use. To download our complete Packaging Guidelines (which also includes information on the common causes of artwork damage, the proper packing materials, links to additional resources, and more) click the link in the Attachments section below.
DO use the following:
An adequate amount of bubble wrap will provide a surprising amount of protection by distributing pressure and impact across a wide area. Bubble wrap does two important jobs: 1) cushions the art in the event of impact 2) fills empty space, preventing unwanted movement within your packaging. For these reasons, bubble wrap should be your padding and filler of choice.
High quality packing tape
Always buy good quality packing tape! Here’s why:
- Sturdy tape ensures your outer package remains shut throughout transit.
- When wrapping your artwork, high quality tape ensures fully sealed seams, keeping damaging moisture out.
- High quality tape is easier to separate from the roll and usually comes with a more efficient dispenser, making it faster to apply
Don’t use low quality packing tape because:
- It’s more difficult to apply, adding more time and effort to the packing process.
- It’s not very sturdy and is prone to breakage during shipping
- Low quality tape may not be adequately adhesive, so may not provide good moisture protection.
- You’ll need to use more of it to get the job done
Acid-Free Archival Paper (Glassine)
Acid-free (archival quality) paper is an absolute necessity when wrapping artwork for both shipping and storage. Archival quality materials are pH neutral (i.e. between 7 and 8.5) and will therefore have no chemical interaction with any objects it contacts. Though other types of archival paper are available, we highly recommend that you buy glassine. It’s readily available by the roll from most art supply, craft, or frame stores.
A sturdy support is necessary for safe packaging and storage of all flat artworks. Foam board (also called foamcore) is ideal for this purpose and you can find it at most art supply, craft, or frame stores. Foam board comes in varying degrees of thickness (depending on the amount of protection needed for your work), and can typically be purchased individually or in bulk. We recommend you use foam board of at least ½” thickness. Archival quality foam board is also available from some manufacturers and it should be used if it will come into direct contact with the artwork.
Cardboard corner protectors
Corners of flat artworks are especially vulnerable to shipping damage, that’s why we require artists to use cardboard corner protectors. You can buy corner protectors ready made at many art supply, moving supply, or frame stores, or you can construct them yourself. A quick search on Google will lead you to online resources offering instructions on how to make them.
PVC pipe or heavy duty mailing tube
Shipping tubes can be easily bent during transit. That is why it is best for you to seek the strongest possible shipping tubes. If you are using cardboard tubes, we advise that you use a series of 3 tubes in total (2 internal tubes, 1 external tube). We encourage for you to use a PVC pipe if your artwork is especially large. PVC (plastic) pipes are commonly used for plumbing and can be found at your local hardware store. Keep in mind you will need to create the end caps as these are not intended for shipping. PVC pipes have proven to be extremely secure and durable.
IMPORTANT: If you’re concerned about spending money on quality packing supplies, always bear in mind that buying cheap packing materials could end up costing you more if your artwork gets damaged.
DON’T use the following:
DON’T use foam packing peanuts. They're a hassle for those who have to unpack and re-pack artwork. They also settle during shipping and don't provide good protection.
Second-hand filler (newspaper, magazine pages, plastic bags, etc.)
Do NOT use scraps of newspaper, magazine pages, or plastic market bags to package your artworks. These materials don’t provide adequate protection and they may also leave an unfavorable impression on the collector who has bought your work.
Non-archival quality tissue paper for wrapping artwork
DON’T wrap your artwork in non-archival tissue paper. Remember that anything that comes into direct contact with the work must be archival quality (i.e. acid-free, pH neutral). BUT, you may use wadded non-archival tissue paper as filler for empty space within the box or crate in the absence of bubble wrap (our preferred filler). Note that when we refer to tissue paper, we DO NOT mean FACIAL tissue paper (such as Kleenex). Facial tissue is for blowing your nose, never for packaging artwork!
Garbage bin bags
You don’t want your artwork associated with garbage, so DON’T use garbage bin bags to pack it. You want your collector to remain absolutely confident in their decision to purchase your work. Using items like garbage bin bags, second-hand filler, or other items not intended for shipping artwork will, more often than not, leave a bad impression on art collectors.