How to ship artwork to new collectors using amazing packaging

Packing an artwork to send off marks the completion of the creative process. Let’s celebrate that by avoiding the common mistakes artists make when posting work. This article will focus on preparing 2D artwork for shipping to customers within the UK. I’ll cover the basics of protecting the work, insurance during transportation and packaging tips. We’ll cover the basics of what to always include, what’s smart to include and what never to include.

Firstly, let’s talk standard sizing, clever artists know that know that creating flat artwork in standard sizes makes it easier to frame, ship and store. This article will cover how to deal with both standard and non-standard artwork sizing.

The primary purpose of packaging is to protect the artwork. No one wants the nightmare phone call lamenting an artwork damaged in transit.

2D works on paper can be sent wrapped in one layer of white tissue paper, followed by a cardboard sandwich. Using white tissue paper avoids any dye transfer from the tissue paper to the artwork.  The sandwiched work can be slotted inside a hard backed envelope.

Many packaging problems can be avoided by creating standard sized artworks to send in standard sized envelopes.

Step by step wrapping process for shipping artwork to buyers

What if your artwork doesn’t fit a standard envelope?

Working in non-standard sizes will increase packaging costs. Now, I’ll let you know a secret, I don’t work in standard sizes. This makes P&P a frustrating area. In order to protect the artwork I layer with white tissue paper,  then use double walled cardboard cut to size.

This is then wrapped again using corrugated card and placed inside a flat box. I tend to use pizza boxes (new ones!) as they are reasonably flat but still small enough to transport.

Fragile media like charcoal or pastel works can smudge in wrapping. For these works I keep a stash of mount board offcuts. Place the offcut mount board in the corners of the work backing board, being careful to avoid the work itself, this creates a protective air space over the work. Then proceed to use the one layer of white tissue paper plus corrugated card sandwich technique.

However quirky or organic the artwork is, the packaging should be flawless. Artwork is a luxury item, make it a luxury experience.

Shipping outsize non standard work needs custom cardboard packaging three images of cardboard parcel and post box

When sending out non-standard sized work I use strong double walled cardboard. Sandwiching the two layers of cardboard together I tape three edges, leaving one for ease of opening. The artwork is then placed inside a box with extra packing paper to fill any void space. It’s then ready to post out to buyers.

What should I always include in the parcel?

The essentials are a business card or thank you card (with your artwork photographed beautifully on it) and  a Certificate of Authenticity. Your contact details include your mobile number, an email and a website should be easy to read.

What’s smart to include in the parcel?

You can add value by including bonus items.

Think of something intriguing you could add. It could be a QR code linking to a members-only section to your website for collector only content, maybe an envelope with a thoughtful message inside, or an invitation to your next show’s Private View. A colleague uses offcuts of her paintings to create the Thank You notes to buyers, meaning every buyer gets a bonus artwork.

What to never include in the parcel?

Never include anything that breaches the postal or courier service restrictions (for example explosives). A personal bugbear is overdoing the sticky packing tape.

There is an optimal amount of packing. Too much and people fatigue on opening, too little and the experience feels mundane. Make the parcel tempting to open.

Packaging done right adds value to the artwork being shipped. It makes it more desirable.

What to include in parcel when shipping artwork to buyers checklist of artist business card and invite to next show
Check list of what to include with your artwork, stock photos from Canva.

Is this the perfect present?

It’s so wonderful to share in others’ celebrations. When someone purchases your artwork as a gift they’re putting their faith in you. Consider sending the artwork mounted rather than cardboard sandwiched. This way it can be handled, gift wrapped and re-packed. This gives a luxury packaging feel. You could add in bonus gift content such as a QR code linking to a special message you’ve recorded for them.

Three images of window mounted work to send to buyer as gift
This is an example of a window mount on my collage ‘Blue Shena’, to make it easier to see I’ve used green frog tape (for a real send out I would use the pale tape seen attaching the image to the window). The right picture shows how the image is only lightly attached to the mount. Sending in a mount gives a luxury feel and protects the artwork. It allows for wrapping and handling.

How can I get a luxury feel with a cash-strapped budget?

You can be frugal and create a luxury feel. The heart of luxury is in conveying the feeling of being valued to the buyer. The aim is to make the buyer feel special. This can be achieved through low cost bonus content such as the QR code to a members-only section of your website mentioned above, or through personalised messaging.

The packaging reflects the artist brand. Think about the style you create in. If you work in neon colour you could add a second layer of neon tissue paper to reflect that, or use bright, shiny packaging. Retro themed and traditional works can look stunning with vintage style brown paper and string. The quality of your artwork should be reflected in the attention given to wrapping it.

If there’s a certain packing material you love use it. If your art practice focuses on eco-materials reflect this by using recyclable and eco-friendly packaging. The packing completes the creation process. You can reduce waste by choosing reusable materials. Choose wrapping that can be reused for returns.

Three images of window mounted and plastic wrapped work inside tissue paper with corner protectors inside box with Certificate of Authenticity and artist business art
Here is ‘Blue Shena’ inside a plastic sleeve. This adds a further layer of protection to artwork that will be handled before framing. I have added extra corrugated cardboard along the edges of the box, corner protectors made from two layers of card and then wrapped the artwork with tissue paper. There was still void space thanks to the non-standard sizing, this is filled with tissue paper. The other option is to place inside a further cardboard sleeve as seen on the right. Added in with the artwork is the Certificate of Authenticity and an artist card.

Help! My buyer wants to return the artwork!

Some artworks are sold with a no-obligation period. If a collector buys your work and decides they want to return it, be gracious, no matter how crest fallen you feel. The most likely reason for their return is that the art doesn’t fit with their home décor. It is rarely a criticism of your artistic talent.

Years ago, I created a diptych painting which I was delighted to sell off the easel at an Open Studio event. A week or so later I got a phone call from the buyer. They’d bought it to match their bathroom, but it wasn’t quite right. Firstly, it’s great that they felt comfortable enough to reach out to me, allowing for a conversation. Secondly, I promptly refunded the artwork cost and arranged for a collection of the work. Shortly afterwards, I received another phone call. This time they wanted commission me to create the same painting diptych in a different shade of green for their bathroom.

The result was that I had the original back, which I was able to resell and they had a bathroom centre piece they loved. Be open to feedback, especially when you’re starting out.

three images of ugly wrapping, gift wrap and fragile boxes
Spot the difference? Luxury wrapping in the centre verses bubble wrap and dirty sheet on the left. Central and right images from Canva.

Art collectors are often irregular repeat customers. Artwork purchases often accompany big events, such as weddings and house moves. It functions as home décor (see my post here) as well as sharing creative stories. If you build a strong professional relationship with your collectors, you’re the first artist they think of when they want to add to their collection.

What insurance are you using?

Insuring your artworks is essential. We’ve all heard horror stories of studio fires and floods. Every insurance policy is different. Check if yours covers artworks in transit. If your insurance doesn’t cover works in transit ask about postal or courier insurances that cover the costs of the artwork if lost.  

Have you committed to a deadline?

If you offer next day shipping then honour that commitment. Equally, if you know you cannot post work more than once a week make this clear to buyers in advance. Be mindful of reasonable time scales, many customers are unwilling to wait more than a fortnight.

Stock, costs and the rocketing sales scenario…

I talk a lot about the importance of covering your costs when you sell your artwork. The cost of production includes the packaging element, as well as the time it takes to physically post out the item.

Know your costs: if you’re selling artwork for £100 retail and your costs are £75 prior to post and packaging, don’t spent £30 on P&P. We’re creatives with stories to share, but, we are also small business owners. Creating a sustainable art business is the single best way to share your message with the world.

Plan for the best and worst case sales scenarios. Maybe you’ve got into an exclusive Christmas Gift Guide and your sales are ready to rocket, maybe you’re focussing on CV building and networking right now and sales are slower. In either scenario play out the logistics. If sales rocket do you have enough packaging or can it be quickly and easily sourced? If you have gone down the bespoke packaging route check the reordering time scales. If you’re slow burning find a clean, dry space to store packing materials until you need them.

Young white woman in jeans and jumper opening a brown parcel with red and white string present test run artwork opening by sending to friends
Send artwork to a friend as a dry run before shipping artwork to buyer. Image from Canva.

Before you sell anything do a test run with the P&P process. Post an artwork to a friend to check the artwork is protected and the parcel is easy to open. Ask them to video the opening process. This will give you an insight into how well your packing is performing. You can even use the video to promote yourself on social media afterwards.

We’ve run through how to protect your artwork with packaging, injecting your brand identity into your parcels and what to include alongside your artwork. Let me know how you get on posting out sold works to buyers, you can contact me via Instagram.

Got a hot tip for packaging artwork? Leave a comment below.


Why Every Artist Needs a Certificate of Authenticity – Visual Artists Association (

Royal Mail Postage Price Calculator Get a price | Royal Mail Group Ltd

My sister site

How to Mail Art – Mail & Parcel Services – Art Business Info. for Artists


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