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Tips on Shipping art work

         I recently sold a rather large painting in shipping terms a 24x36... When I went to UPS I was shocked to find out that shipping my painting costed something like $550.00 and thats within the States... 

Anyone out there have any tips on how to ship art work for cheaper? The Painting itself was sold for $850.00 ... is it really more than 50% to ship?


  • Markalex777

    Sounds like there is special fragile handling, registration, tracking and insurance fees in this price.
    I would advise careful boxing and bubble wrap with silicone coated paper protecting the painted surface - all available at the Dollar Store.

    Alternately a plywood box with spacer bars to keep painting off the sides.

    Sent as a normal package, no frills should be between $10 to $20 .


  • @Markalex777     Last year I had to ship three big paintings from Switzerland to the US. I worked on this question for weeks because it is so expensive and complicated... if you can and if you dare: you might take them from the stretcher and roll it... (I wouldn't dare to do so, maybe somebody has experience with that...) mine were on dibond, so no way to roll anything...

    To protect the surface I found a wonderful material called glassine paper. If the painting is dry the paper will not stick to the surface and it protects the paint from impressions of the airbubbles of the bubble wrap. Glassine and then two coats of bubbles and a cardboard finish... I shipped with FedEx but through an Agent because of the custom papers... The paintings arrived in perfect shape, no damage at all, but I plastered the surface with pink 'fragile' stickers... hope this helps...
  • edited January 2017
    Mark did a video not too long ago about shipping a painting. A quick brouse is all I had time for and didn't see it. I have to get scootin' to work and don't have time right now but it was very good (of course)... should be able to find it. It was when he gave a painting away that he did - I believe for the wet on dry tutorial. Uncomplicated (smart), simple... seems to be the way Mark rolls which is one thing I love.  :3

    I suspect dencal will know where to find it but if no one posts it I will look this evening.
  • @dencal $10 to $20 dollars how ? For a 24x36? U.S. Post office? Fed Ex? 
  • @EstherH How to ship I have down... how to protect your painting etc... but how can you ship for less money is my question... If shipping wasn't so expensive I would charge less for my paintings and probably make more sales. 
  • @NanaBean thank you ... does @Mark_Carder mention shipping costs? 
  • That's interesting. I shipped a painting (already pre-wrapped and packaged by me) via UPS that was 18x36 for 60.00 from Iowa to California. That's with insurance. It even had a frame on it, so it was kinda heavy. 
  • Markalex777

    A padded prepaid satchel 17 x 20 inches to send anywhere in Australia weighing less than five kilos (11 lbs) costs $16.72


  • edited January 2017
    @Markalex777 ; I can't find the video I mentioned, but it had to do how he prepares the painting for shipping (very simple), not the cost. While the way he did it would cut down on weight, therefore cost, it is not what you are asking for. I suspect the high cost you mentioned had most to do with size, but I have no experience with this so do not have any suggestions other than check with other shippers. Sorry!

    And Congratulations on your sale!
  • Were you going to have the UPS people wrap and ship it for you?  I know it can be very expensive if they do it.  I've had frames mailed to me which wouldn't be much different if the painting was placed inside.  If you can get corner protecters and a thinnish? box to ship it in then the cost shouldn't be too much. I'm thinking under 100.00 at least? The size is what will make it higher. The Container Store sells unusual sized boxes but not sure if the size you need would be there.
  • Guys, I can't speak for a cheap shipping method but I'd like to share my experience with shipping companies in America like UPS, FedEx, and others concerning the insurance you buy to guarantee you are covered it the item arrives in tact or with damages.  

    What I found was the insurance they sell has fine print to reduce their liability if an item arrives damaged. In my case I received an expensive guitar the person that shipped it depended on the guitar case to protect it and only put the guitar and case in a cardboard box large enough for shipping.  The guitar arrived at my house with the entire front of the guitar smashed and the strings just dangled, it was totally destroyed and way beyond repair.

    Because I live in a very small town, I was able to drive up and down the streets until I found the UPS driver that had delivered it to my home 30 minutes prior.  When I showed him the guitar he explained to me that the insurance only covered the item if it was packaged to the precise requirements of UPS (in this case) and the sender had followed the required packaging to a Tee.  Obviously the people who sent me the guitar had not followed those requirements so the UPS insurance they bought was worthless.  Fortunately in my case the sellers made it right with me and allowed me a full refund; but they never got any settlement from UPS (to my knowledge) because their package was not shipped in the full requirements of UPS.

    What I came to find out was UPS required the item to be package under their strict regulations as do the other shipping companies as well.  Note also; even though you use a packaging company to pack the item for you, they may fill the box with styrofoam peanuts but that does not fulfill the requirements of the insurance policy you may buy.  I don't know why they would not package the item to fit the shippers requirements but they probably won't unless you specify they do, and beware it can get more expensive.

    I'll share another story with you that involves my experience of once working in a UPS distribution center in Columbus Ohio as an employee of an outside contractor hired to do a short term specific job.  The items are sorted and separated by conveyors with codes to take them to a specific destination where they will be loaded onto a semi tractor trailer  for distribution.  These items run along an over head conveyor until they reach the designated door on a loading dock a semi truck will be waiting to be loaded so they can drive to a smaller site and distributed on individual trucks for delivery to our homes.

    The packages ride on an over head conveyor system that circles the plant until they reach the designated loading dock (there can be between fifty and a hundred of them) that a metal arm will swing into place and direct the item onto a chute leading down to ground level to be loaded in a truck (all done by an electronic bar code system).  At this point the boxes slide down the chute (at a sharp angle from about 15 feet above, from the overhead conveyor,  to 4 feet where a worker will hand load them onto the semi trailer.  They truly bang into each other with the boxes at the bottom of the chute taking the blunt of the boxes coming from the top of the conveyor sliding into them; which is where most of the damage occurs.  Imagine your precious painting at the bottom of the chute and a heavy large box of books or a heavy metal object sliding into it.  That is why they need to be protected with extra precaution.

    Note also; there is not a worker standing at every loading dock ready to grab your package when it slides down to the bottom of the chute.  They have a system of when a worker finishes loading a trailer, they check in and are then sent to the next loading dock in line waiting to be loaded on a semi trailer.  This means that often the chute can be full before a worker arrives to begin loading the item onto a semi trailer.  Even then we are at the mercy of the loading workers giving care to our packages and not just throwing them into place to stack them onto a trailer for their journey to the next center.

    I don't mean to alarm you but that is the truth of how these items are distributed, stacked into trailers before being loaded onto a smaller delivery truck that we are familiar with that will eventually deliver the package to our home.  If you have a precious (and expensive) item you are shipping please pay attention to the fine print that explains the requirements of the shipping company to cover their liability if the package is truly protected by their insurance policy or not.

    Now believe me, most items do arrive safely with the minimum care a seller (shipper) may provide thinking their item is properly protected; but in some cases that may not be the case.  So if you feel safe by buying the insurance they offer, please note if the package in not packaged to their specified requirements or the insurance means nothing.  Even if you rely on a so called professional packaging store to properly pack the item for you, they usually protect the item with loose styrofoam peanuts that don't fulfill the shipping companies (like UPS, FedEx, and others) requirements for them to be liable for any claims if the item arrives damaged.  

    Once I learned this, if I later sold an expensive guitar and had to ship it, I would buy a custom built cardboard box, from the local packaging store, to allow for a full 1 1/2 solid "BLUE" styrofoam board (with a higher protection rating than the white styrofoam) to make sure my expensive item would arrive safely and be beyond accordance of the shipping companies requirements for their insurance to be valid.

    Once again, not trying to scare anyone but I suggest you read the fine print if you send an expensive item via any shipping method.   I would hate for anyone to learn the hard way.   Note also; my advise here only applies to my personal experience, things may be different with other shipping companies.





  • Markalex777, I truly apologize if I have make things sound scary to you.  The truth is most packages arrive safely without any damage at all but some do get damaged in shipping and if you are depending on the insurance you bought to cover you damages, you should really ask the shippers to give you a copy of the insurance requirements; which are usually in fine print.

    The video someone mentioned was of Mark preparing a painting for shipping in his Vlog video where he was preparing a painting to be shipped to the winner of a contest he had sponsored. I can't for the life of me find it to post a link.  His packaging method was great to to give space between the painting and the cardboard box he put it in; but whether it would be enough to satisfy the shipping company's requirement for an insurance claim I truly don't know.  I'm sure in most cases the package would arrive safely without any trouble at all. 

    I have no knowledge of the prices a shipping company may charge, I'm merely suggesting to be careful about the small print in the insurance policy you may purchase.


  • FlattyFlatty admin
    NanaBean said:
    @Markalex777 ; I can't find the video I mentioned, but it had to do how he prepares the painting for shipping (very simple), not the cost. While the way he did it would cut down on weight, therefore cost, it is not what you are asking for. I suspect the high cost you mentioned had most to do with size, but I have no experience with this so do not have any suggestions other than check with other shippers. Sorry!

    And Congratulations on your sale!
    Mark Carder Vlog 1 at the five minute mark:-)

  • Marklex777

    Here is a secure packaging method for oil paintings on MDF.


  • Artists, 
        Thank you all for your comments. Maybe the guy at the UPS center didn't know what he was talking about. 

    I went to the UPS center and asked if I were to ship a 24x36 inch painting - that is stretched on wood - how much would it cost? The quote he gave me was around $450.00 ... perhaps that was with insurance... using their boxes, etc.... he told me that UPS does not ship any package unless you use their boxes. I sold the painting for around $800.00 (which in this market is hard to do) but to pay half or more for shipping makes no sense to me. I also buy frames and such from this NY framer and the frames that are large cost around $100.00, so how does he ship it for cheap? Also - it probably has to do with distance for sure, as the painting I had sold was going to London from NY where I am... maybe I should only sell in the 50 states? 

    There was an art competition as well in London that I really wanted to submit to... but with the cost of shipping, I didn't try. 
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