Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Exhibiting Your Work: Packaging and Shipping

Shipping your work to a gallery for an exhibition can be stressful. No one wants the frame to break or damage to occur to their piece during transportation. Here at The Kiernan Gallery we have found certain methods of packing to be far superior to others and would like share some of our best shipping tips with you.

-       Plexi, Not Glass!
Yes, I know that this is not exactly part of shipping, but there has yet to be a show without at least once piece damaged upon arrival. The most common issue is broken glass. Using Plexiglas will completely solve this issue. Many professional framers have great Plexiglas that is indistinguishable from standard UV protection glass.

If you are using glass, the best way to avoid damage is to place the shipping label on the thin side of the box. FedEx and UPS stack their boxes with shipping labels facing up. Placing the label is on the thin side guarantees that nothing will be stacked on top of it. If you are using a mailing service that packages for you, ask them to place the label on that side of the box.

-       Tape: Less Is More
Please do NOT use excessive tape. Winding a whole roll of tape around your photograph is not going to make it any more secure. It will, however, ensure that we will have to cut apart your packing materials, and it increases the chances that we will inadvertently scratch the frame with scissors or a box cutter. A few pieces of good packing tape, much like wrapping a gift, are all that are needed.

-       Foam Is Fantastic!
Of course, you needn’t worry about tape at all if you pack your work with foam. Egg crate foam (or similar) is a great: It is a good shock absorber, it molds to fit the exact contours of your piece, it doesn’t require any tape, and it doesn’t add much weight. Since we can then reuse your shipping material, you get it back at the end of a show.

-       Paperwork
Please remember to send return shipping with your artwork. If your work sells during the exhibition, UPS and FedEx labels can always be cancelled. If we are printing and framing your work, please send a PDF of your shipping label. Ask us for an invoice if you are using the postal service.

In addition to return shipping, please include the contributor’s form that we emailed you. If you want to make sure it won’t be lost, tape it to the Plexiglas over the image; taping it to the back of the piece might cause damage when it is removed. Without the contributor’s form, we have no way of knowing your printing process/media, price, or contact information. This information is needed to for the exhibition label and to tell prospective buyers.

Also, sending a few business cards with your work is always a great idea. We hand them out to visitors who have expressed interest in your work, and keep at least one in our exhibition file.


  1. Pack your stuff properly, and don’t overdo anything. It is your task to pack your artwork properly, so do it the right way and you’re sure to keep it scratch- and damage-free. Also, communicate with your shipping service provider, and tell them what kind of art work you’ll be shipping, so that they’ll know how they should handle it.

    -Valentina Moors

  2. I actually enjoyed reading through this posting.Many thanks.

    Shipping Courses

  3. Great post, very informative.

    There is an excellent video by Xanadu Gallery in Arizona on shipping two-dimensional artwork. it's worth a watch - loads of practical info.

    Link is here: http://www.xanadugallery.com/Webinar/Shipping/index.asp

  4. I agree with Valentina. Communication is the key to safely ship your artwork. You can also check if your chosen shipping company offers packaging services. You can also let them pack your artwork for security and safety. They know the needs of your artwork very well, so they know how to do everything properly.

    -Renea Luong