Shipping Small Art on Paper
Updated: Mar 19
As of this writing, even if you ship a small ACEO (size 2.5×3.5in.), you’d think you can drop it in a letter envelope and put a forever stamp on it- 50 cents. However- the rules are, if it doesn’t bend, you must ship another way. The next cheapest way is USPS first class shipping, 2.60 dollars. That is the base rate, no matter the weight.
First I will outline the process. Then I will list supplies.
Put artwork in plastic sleeve.
Put artwork face down on stiff board.
Piece of cardboard over the package like a sandwich. Cardboard should be same size as stiff board.
Plastic wrap whole thing
Place in plastic envelope.
Wrap edges of envelope with packing tape.
Plastic Sleeves. Plastic sleeves are a very good way to package and store art. It protects the piece, and it’s convenient for the buyer to store. I’ve bought many various kinds of sleeves. You want sleeves that are cheap, look beautiful, clear, and have a self sealing lip. There are many kinds of materials, the polypropylene are best. Go to ebay and search for : Crystal Clear Resealable Poly/Cello Bags Sleeves Self Seal. About $18 will get you a hundred. More are cheaper. You want the polypropylene material, it’s clear, a bit stiff. Looks very nice.
Stiff Board. Any stiff material will do. However what needs to be accounted for is weight, and cost of the material. You may come across that cheap plastic protective mylar over cheap posters, you can cut that up to use. However mylar is expensive. Luaun and other thin sheets of material sold at a big hardware store will provide the best solution here.
My cheapest solution has been to go to Lowes hardware and take a 4’x8′ sheet of Luaun, and get it cut on site. Three cuts will give you 8 1’x4′ strips that you can take home and cut down (For artwork smaller than 9x12in.). How the cuts should be made at Lowes: If you place the board in your mind sideways, the first cut is down the middle (now you have two 4’x4′ pieces). Both pieces are put together and cut down the middle again (now you have four 2’x4′)- those are put together again an cut down the middle, leaving you with eight 1’x4′ pieces you can pack in your small ass car.
Take a 1’x4′ strip of luaun wood. Measure 9.5in. intervals horizontally, this gives you five boards for shipping artwork under 9x12in. You don’t have a skillsaw: Score each line with an exacto utility blade on both sides of the board. Then snap them apart.
Sand the edges lightly.
Cardboard. This is to protect the artwork further. You may want to buy heavy duty medium size carboard boxes from Lowes. This provides a lot of 9×12 pieces of carboard.
Plastic Wrap. You can use household saran wrap. If you’re doing this a lot, you want to try stretch wrap film, this is a small handle with a rolling tube of saran wrap like material. You can purchase it for $2 at the Dollar Store or Lowes.
Plastic Envelopes. I get bulk envelopes that are flimsy and thin but protect from moisture. The key here is the stuff you put inside must be already protected, hence the stiff board, and cardboard, and plastic wrap. Go to ebay and search for : 14.5×19 WHITE POLY MAILERS SHIPPING ENVELOPES BAGS, they are about $13 for 100.
Packing tape. I get 2 inch transparent packaging tape from the Dollar Store for $1 a piece. The dispenser is also cheap.