When you sell a painting, it is important that you are able to get it to the buyer in a safe condition. So much effort goes into creating a painting that it would be a shame for it to be damaged in transit.
I recently had to say goodbye to one of my paintings and I thought I would use this as an opportunity to run through how I safely package my paintings once they have sold. My partner actually claimed this painting, but I forgot I had it listed for sale on a website. She was not happy when it sold!
Note: This is just my process and you may do things differently. If so, feel free to let me know in the comments!
Step 1. Make Sure The Painting Is Actually Finished
The first thing I do is make sure the painting is actually finished. This means:
- The edges are nice and clean
- The keys (those little wooden parts which come with stretched canvas) are secured in the back of the canvas.
- I have signed the painting.
- Details of the painting are written on the back (shown below).
Below are the keys I referred to. The purpose of keys is to keep the canvas tight on the frame.
Step 2. Arrange Postal Insurance If Needed
I sold my painting through Blue Thumb and they actually arrange all the insurance. But it may be something which you need to consider getting when you sell your painting.
This is more important for those of you selling at a higher price point. If you are selling smaller and less expensive paintings then insurance is more optional.
Step 3. Supplies Required
Here are the supplies which I use for safely packaging my paintings:
- Tape (the strong stuff)
- A sturdy box which is close to the dimensions of your painting.
- Baking paper (an oily paper which plays well with paintings.
- Bubble wrap.
- Some kind of void filler for the box.
- Permanent marker (for marking "Fragile" on the box). Alternatively, you can purchase "Fragile" labels.
These are not the only supplies you can use. In most cases you can just make do with what you have available to you. Be creative.
Step 4. Baking Paper To Protect The Surface
Once I have made sure I am posting the right painting and it is all ready to go, then I start preparing it to go in the box. I first place a layer of baking paper over the top of the painting. This helps protect the surface of the painting. I do not want my painting to be directly in contact with bubble wrap.
Step 5. Bubble Wrap Around The Painting
With the baking paper in place, I apply a few layers of bubble wrap around the painting. I am very generous with how much bubble wrap I use, as this is one of the main protective layers (and bubble wrap is cheap).
This part may get a bit fiddly as you need to make sure the baking paper stays on top of the surface of the painting whilst you apply the bubble wrap. As this is a larger painting, I used tape to connect both sheets of baking paper to make it easier to control. For smaller paintings, you only need a single sheet of baking paper.
Once you have bubble wrapped the painting, then tape the edges and make sure it is all secure. The bubble wrap should be fairly tight on the painting.
Then I wrap some thin tape around the whole painting a few times to secure everything together.
Step 6. Place The Painting In The Box
You want the painting to be very snug in the box. You certainly do not want the painting to be bouncing around inside the box during transit.
In this case, I had some spare sheets of cardboard which helped me take up some of the void space in the box. I then placed the bubble wrapped painting carefully in the box.
Step 7. Make The Painting Secure
With the painting in the box, you need to make sure it is extremely secure by filling any space with some kind of filler. In this case, I used some of the leftover bubble wrap, but there was not much void space as the box dimensions closely matched that of the painting.
You could also use plastic bags, newspaper or some other void filler which you can buy from your local post office.
Step 8. Insert A Letter Of Thanks And Certificate Of Authenticity
I like to write a personal letter to anyone who purchases a painting. I think it adds a nice touch. You may want to also include a Certificate of Authenticity.
Step 9. Tape The Box Shut
After making sure everything is secure inside the box (give it a bit of a shake to make sure there is hardly any movement) then it is time to tape the edges shut. Use heavy duty tape for this.
Step 10. Mark The Box As "Fragile"
Take your permanent marker and mark "Fragile" in large writing on each side of the box. This will just prompt people to be gentle with the box, but do not assume they will be. It is important that your painting is secure enough to handle some roughing up during transit, as people may not see the "Fragile" label.
Step 11. Make Sure The Postage Label Is Correct
I like to do a final check that I am sending the painting to the right person and the address is correct. You can put the address into Google to make sure it actually exists and that there are no spelling mistakes.
Step 12. Say Goodbye!
It is time to say goodbye to your painting! Give yourself a pat on the back as it is not easy to sell artwork. For most people, buying art is a significant and meaningful investment.
I hope you have a better idea now about how you can safely package your painting once it has sold. Also, I will reiterate that this is just my process. Part of my process involves making do with what I have around me, so it changes slightly from time to time.
How you get the painting to the buyer does not matter as long as:
- The painting is safe and secure
- You do not compromise the surface of the painting
- The painting actually makes it to the buyer (make sure you have the address right and have insurance in place for worst-case scenarios)
If you do things differently, feel free to share your process in the comments.
(If you want to learn more about the marketing and business side of art, you might be interested in my Marketing for Artists email-course.)