How to package and ship a painting

Please read about our packaging and shipping process. The gallery is an online gallery. Which means we predominantly send packages of artwork through the whole wide world. Read here how we do it and why we do it this way. This is for our artists and our collectors to gain insight into a big part of the galleries daily business.

Packaging art work and sending it of into the world.

My gut tells me: drive every individual piece to their new owner!

In reality, we have buyers who are from all over the world. Which we are thankful for and would love to keep selling to people who love our artist as much as we love them. Driving to Singapore is not an option when you are based in The Netherlands. Neither is bringing a package to a French or Swiss collector in less than a week an option when you have several other artworks to get to other collectors, and you have to pick up the children in time from school.


So how do we insure our artwork gets to its new home intact?

A question our artist need answers to as well as our lovely art lovers buying the art. So today I will take you through the mental and physical process of shipping artwork from Gallery Sorelle Sciarone.


Pacakge Delivery from Voorschoten - Tascha Sciarone

Early Morning Package Delivery from the picturesque canals from Voorschoten to the world - Tascha Sciarone


In my perfect world, I would bring each artwork with a bottle of sparkling apple juice or J.C. Le Roux (a South African equivalent of champagne) to every new owner when bringing their work to them personally. You have got to love the idea that people have brought art and an art lover together. When deciding to forego the overhead of a physical gallery location in the first few years, I did not realize the effect was going to have not to celebrate each sale in person with the new owner. Also that the new owner would lovingly ride away with their artwork into the sunset, cherishing it and ushering it with care into its new home. the work will be shipped all on its own together with hundreds of thousands of other packages. Even with a dedicated art shipper, does not reduce the volume of packages handled.

Today, I sent another work away into the wide world of international package handling. My partner asked me why I was in such a fuss about packaging. How do you explain the importance of keeping an artist creation safe for the wonderment of an art lover? Three people have very high stakes in this package coming through whole on the other side. It is someone's creation, my passion and integrity on the line, and the buyer's new love. It is one of a kind piece that needs to stay intact.

So how do I package the art when it loses my sight?

The Steps

Step 1:

Acid-free tissue paper: the piece I shipped today was a contemporary newly coated piece, so I skipped this step. Acid-free paper is, however, a must step for older work and paper-based art. 


Step 2:

Wrap the artwork with plastic, to protect against moisture—a critical step for all unforeseen rainy days.


Step 3:

Attach foam corner protectors; this is where the most casual damage usually happens. Paintings easily get damaged by scuff marks at the sides. Some artist and galleries fashion these corner protectors from bubble wrap or cardboard. I still have to figure out what is the best way, for now, I love the blue corners. If you know of a more sustainable type of foam in this shape, please let me know.

Blue  foam corner protectors - AHG Support

Blue foam corner protectors - AHG Support

Step 4:
Foam wrap around the artwork, nice and tight, and keep going. Some people say 6 cm thick; others say 3 cm thick. For me, it usually depends on the shape of the artwork. Today's piece was an outspoken rectangular frame. So I focused on the length and wrapping that in three layers over the blue corner edge protectors. I do not use bubble wrap, I used to, but an artist explained to me that if you do not ensure the bubbles are on the outside, they can leave impressions in the artwork. So after some research, I decided to forego bubble wrap entirely and use Polyethylene Foam (PE Foam). Which is a thick foam between 3 mm and 6 mm thick and is made from an interwoven cross-linked or linear structure to dampen and protect objects. I am still looking for more environmentally friendly foams. If I can find the foam made from mushrooms to package the items, I think that is my next supplier. Now we have to see each other, as google has proved useless in this hunt.

Step 5:
Use (recycled) corrugated cardboard to create the last two layers. I focused more on the length of the artwork and made sure that there was enough thickness where the canvas is stretched over the frame. The stretched canvas is the most vulnerable part of the painting.
Some people tape, but I like to bind it all together with twine after using tape at the edges. I also like the aesthetic of twine. EDIT: My shippers have since written this informed me this could be dangerous, and we no longer do this.

Step 6:
Label it fragile and set it free, but heavily insured, out into the world.

Final package: The art work inside is 30cm x 90cm x 2cm, the package is 50cm x 100cm x 10cm

Usually we make use of prefolded and made boxes. This painting needed another shape, we were not able to find.


The last step to insure the work is essential, because no matter what price the art went, it is genuinely disappointing for everyone involved if something happened to the painting. Sometimes it can be fixed; sometimes it cannot. In both instances, it costs everyone time, money, material and anguish to solve whatever happened during shipping. And sometimes, no matter what you do, work may get damaged, but with insurance, you not only cover the financial part, but you also make it abundantly clear to your artist that every piece of theirs that you send out is worthy. Which is something I think about a lot working with an artist selling their works for the first time or after a hiatus.

Finally, I have worked for museums where artwork had to be restored after giant tears happened in the transport of significant "museum" art. And all the care of giant specialized art shipping companies and the expertise of museum professionals could not stop it from happening. It happens, but we can take as many steps to ensure the work arrives safely.



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