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Thoughts from the Studio: Packing a Painting for Shipping

Several years ago, I prepared a presentation for a CPPS meeting on: “How to Pack a Painting for Shipping”. I am updating this presentation and including “How Much it Costs”!

  1. Read all the information regarding shipping that comes from the exhibitor. You may need to contact the shipper; you may need to provide a return address label, a prepaid return shipping label etc. If you need to provide documents or labels that need to be in the box get them ready first. Get a box that is both strong enough and big enough, allow several inches of clearance all around your painting. Mark your box with an up arrow, and as you proceed keep marking each step with the up arrow.

  2. To begin the wrap: (Most of these steps end with tape) a. Wrap your painting in soft foam wrap or small bubble wrap. b. Place a piece of pre-cut cardboard (the size of the glass) on the cushioned glass. (Documents in a Ziploc bag could go here) c. Add cardboard (cut to frame dimensions) on front and back and hold in place with corner protectors. d. Slide all into large plastic bag e. Wrap in larger bubble wrap, both vertically and horizontally. f. Repeat cardboard on both sides/and/or use more cardboard to line the box. You can use more bubble wrap for all gaps. g. Further strengthen the box by using styrofoam (insulation 1” thick) at the bottom of the box, you can also use it at the sides and top. h. Documents Check!!!!!!, make sure they’re in though you can seal them on the outside of the box. You want to create both cushion for your painting and reinforcement for the box. i. Finally, when it feels 'cushiony', snug and strong, tape it shut thoroughly. Even wrap the tape like straps to secure the top down. Toss It? No!

  3. How Much Does It Cost ? Last summer I shipped a painting to the Pastel Society of America Exhibit in NYC. It was a large painting and required a strong mat board box sized 32” X 40”. I followed the steps above, which is basically alternating bubble wrap and cardboard, lining the box with more cardboard.

  4. You almost never ship your painting directly to an art exhibit, you ship it to a shipper. In this case I had to ship my painting to ‘Safe Art, Inc.’ Safe Art unpacks your painting and delivers it to the show. After the show, Safe Art, Inc. picks up your painting and repacks it and sends it back to you. For this service, Safe Art charges $110. Prior to shipping, you contact Safe Art, to let them know your painting is coming. The actual shipping charge is another matter. You take your painting to a shipper like UPS, USPS, or FEDEX. They weigh your package, and depending on the size and weight, bill you for the shipping to and from your painting's destination. My total FEDEX bill was $228.62 , ($114.31 each way, including insurance). So that all adds up to $342.93. Entering the show also requires an entrance fee around $30-$40). I could be overwhelmed and saddened by this expense ( and I am somewhat) but I have to look at it as an investment in my career. Being in the show, seeing my work on the wall is thrilling, but it is also expensive.

  5. Entering a smaller painting in a more recent show, the Degas Pastel Society Exhibit, the cost was $40 for the shipper and $84.91 to FEDEX. But, it is what it is!

Marianne Fyda PS When I got my painting back from the PSA and Safe Art, it was in perfect condition! I am most grateful for that…but I sure did pay for it!

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