Pastel Pointers | Shipping Pastel Paintings, Part 2

shipping artwork materials

Here is an assortment of shipping labels and supplies.

In last week’s blog post, I began the discussion on shipping pastel paintings by covering: Boxes, Glass Concerns, and Packing Materials. This week, I will continue the discourse with: Carriers, Insurance Issues, and Shipping for Exhibition.

  • Carriers: Setting up accounts with the major carriers, like FedEx and UPS, using a credit card for payment, will make the task of filling out shipping labels considerably easier. Once your account is registered, you can go online, enter the required shipping information, print the shipping label, and, in most cases, set up a package pickup. Digital notifications can also be arranged for the sender and recipient, providing a tracking number. This allows both parties to follow the progress of the shipment. Check in advance with the recipient for a preference on carriers. If utilizing ground transportation, which is less expensive, be sure to make allowances for the additional time. When time constraints are an issue, air transport is an option at considerably higher cost.
  • Insurance Issues: Be sure to check the insurance limitations of the individual carriers. Additional charges will apply for higher valuations above their limits. Some carriers limit artwork values when the creating artist is shipping and may exclude artwork under glass. In most instances, the insurance value is per package. This can be a concern if multiple paintings are being packaged together in a single container. If you are frequently shipping paintings of high value, a supplemental insurance rider added to your homeowner’s policy might be a good option.
  • Shipping for Exhibition: If economically possible, when shipping pastel paintings for exhibition (which will require the reuse of your packaging for return shipment), invest in a commercial box made specifically for the purpose. Airfloat Systems (, MasterPak (, and ULINE ( are good resources for reusable shipping boxes and various other packaging supplies like “Glass Skin,” mentioned in last week’s blog. These boxes are considerably more expensive than your run-of-the-mill cardboard box but well worth the investment if you plan on frequently shipping for exhibition. Commonly referred to as “Artwork Boxes,” they are sturdy and easy to open and repackage, making the job of the receiving agent much simpler. To ensure return of the box, even if the painting sells, be sure to enclose a return shipping label, payment, and mark the outside of the box with your name in permanent ink. To add to the longevity of its use, I spray the outer cardboard shell with an inexpensive household varnish. This adds an extra degree of moisture protection and makes the removal of the shipping label much easier. Do not over-tape the seams when sealing the box. They are designed for minimal taping. Remember to enclose all the required exhibition forms and fees. If you are shipping multiple boxes to an exhibit, place a photo of the enclosed painting along with the information. This makes it easier for the shipping agent to return the correct artwork to the appropriate container for return. Remember to check the calendar listings in the latest issue of Pastel Journal for upcoming exhibition deadlines.

It is often said that paintings are analogous to children. Since we artists are the parents, sending our artwork/children out into the world, it is imperative that we bundle them up safely, worry just a little, and then patiently await their safe return. Accidents may still happen. That’s why we have insurance but hope we never have to use it!

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