Packing your work
Dos & Don’ts
Instruction Labels for Shipping
Optional Labels
Additional Information

Introduction to shipping metalwork, jewelry, and sculpture

The following Professional Guidelines have been generously authored and donated by Harriete Estel Berman. Additional resources can be found on Harriete’s Website.

Thoughtful preparation for packing and shipping your work helps ensure that your work will arrive without damage, makes you look like a professional artist, establishes that your work will be handled and installed carefully according to your expectations and returned without damage. What more can you expect? Sloppy packing increases the chance that your work may be damaged during shipping, lost in the packing materials, possibly damaged when it is unwrapped, returned in an inappropriate shipping container or poorly repacked because the artist did not provide adequate packing instructions or reusable packing materials. Is that what you want?

Packing your work

Download Packing Your Work For Exhibitions to use as a reference sheet.

Dos & Don’ts

Do Not:

  • Use newspaper for packing material.
  • Reuse an old or beat-up box or a box with printed product information printed on the box.
  • Wrap your work in bubble wrap sealed with plastic tape.
  • Tape your interior-shipping box closed.
  • Eat or drink when packing or unpacking work.


Use a double box approach for best results.


Exterior Box:

  • Design your packing materials and boxes to be reusable for return shipping.
  • Label the inside of your exterior shipping box with your name and contact information.
  • Make your shipping boxes look professional and new.
  • Double-box your work. This means that your work is packed in an interior box surrounded by at least two inches of “shipping peanuts” between the interior box and the outer shipping box.
  • Attach FRAGILE stickers to the exterior of the shipping box. ***

Interior Box:

  • Design the packing materials used inside the interior box to be reusable.
  • For small artwork, a Tupperware-type plastic container may be an excellent interior box.
  • Label the interior box with your name and address – inside and out.
  • Glue additional instructions for Unpacking, Display, Maintenance, and Repacking on your interior box.
  • Always include a pair of disposable gloves with your work (placed inside the interior box).

Place the following papers inside the interior box with your work:

  • A List of Inventory (including wholesale and retail value).
  • Condition Report (especially if this is an important piece or traveling exhibition).
  • Include a current RESUME and ARTIST STATEMENT if you haven’t sent them already.
  • Use brass brads or ties to securely close the box (if the lid doesn’t already seal like Tupperware, for example). DO NOT USE TAPE.

Instruction Labels for Shipping

Instruction labels on the boxes should be neat and easy to understand. Use Elmer’s Glue or permanent spray glue – not glue sticks – to adhere the labels to the box.

  • Glue an ADDRESS label or ‘rubber stamp’ inside all boxes with your complete name and address.
  • Glue a TITLE label, including title, date created, materials, & dimensions.
  • Glue INSTRUCTIONS for Unpacking, Display, Repacking, Shipping & Maintenance.
  • Include an additional copy, loose, inside the interior box with the artwork.
  • Include assembly instructions, diagram or photograph of how the artwork is displayed if necessary.

Artwork should be well crafted and designed to survive shipping conditions. During the creative process, it may be a good idea to design the work to dissemble for shipping. Work that is not appropriately designed for shipping may become damaged during shipping and consequently unable to be included in the exhibition. Watch Custom Shipping Box/Design for Shipping for ideas. Consider how the work will be displayed.  Include a custom display, if needed, along with clear instructions for the display. If you have a pre-conceived idea of how the work should be displayed, this information should also be sent to the Exhibition Sponsor two months prior to the show. Address labels should be placed on all boxes.

*** If you are hand delivering your work, print out an extra copy of your List of Inventory and have a representative of the Exhibition Sponsor sign it as proof that the work was delivered.

Optional Labels

Please WEAR GLOVES When handling artwork

ATTENTION MUSEUMS AND GALLERIES: Please save this packing box for future shipping. Much time has been invested in customizing a box to protect the artwork. Please keep all the packing components together. If this box is lost or damaged, you will be charged the cost for constructing a new custom made packing box.

COLLECTORS: This box is custom designed to ensure protection of the artwork. Please save this packing box for your convenience and for ideal storage. If an important exhibition would like to borrow the artwork, this box provides a convenient and secure container to ship the work.

Additional Information

Professional Development Seminar

Follow the link for additional information and YouTube videos related to packing & shipping art and craft from the SNAG Professional Development Seminar

© Harriete Estel Berman 2016