Packaging and shipping art works securely and in an eco-friendly manner can be tricky, but extremely rewarding when done right. Doing it with minimal impact on the environment helps you plan for a sustainable way of pursuing your passion for the arts and design. To achieve this, you will have to explore and look for different eco-friendly packaging options.
While there’s no shortage of available materials, starting the journey might feel intimidating and overwhelming. We’ve compiled simple tips and some step-by-step guides to help you, as you transition to sustainable materials and practices.
What to Consider When Shipping Your Artwork
Before you can start packaging your art, you will need to consider a few things. Material is obviously the most important aspect. Based on this, you can estimate how much additional protection it needs. Canvas, for example, is much more water-resistant than cotton rags. Because of this, waterproof mailing envelopes are necessary for cotton rags. You should also assess the size of the art print, since this will reduce the need for additional packaging materials. Framing requires different packaging materials too. Here are some things you need to remember:
Material Used in the Artwork
These are the commonly used medium for art prints:
- Canvas is not as resistant to moisture as cotton rags. It is best to use glassine paper and waterproof envelopes to protect it.
- Cotton rags have the best water and tear resistance among commonly used materials. It is also virtually wrinkle-proof. Because of this, it can be rolled and shipped in a mailing tube.
- Matte papers are especially prone to wrinkling. So, it is best to use a piece of cardboard or chipboard to support your print.
📷 and 🎨 by @westmeadowcreative
The size of the artprint matters
Larger art prints will require larger envelopes or boxes, especially framed ones. That means they will also require a lot more packaging material. Depending on the size of your artwork, you can send it in a rigid envelope or a mailing tube. It's more cost-efficient to ship smaller designs in a rigid envelope, and larger ones in a mailing tube.
Is the artwork framed or not framed?
Framed artworks are packed differently because you have to take care of the glass and the sharp edges. If not packed properly, the glass can shatter. Corners are also prone to scratches and rips. For framed artworks, it’s best to use corner protectors for cushioning.
Use corner protectors for cushioning 📷 and 🎨 by @denisevanphotos
The Bigger Challenge When Going Green
Designers are fuelled by their art. For every artist, it is essential to protect artwork that consumes their energy and creativity. Usually, this involves the use of protective materials and complex packaging methods. Sustainable supplies are difficult to find. Most packaging designs don't reflect your artistic style and personality. But with so many mailer bags designs claiming to be eco-friendly, how do you choose items you’ll work with?
Eco-friendly Options and Packaging Tips
Art prints made of matte paper or canvas are especially prone to wrinkling. To prevent that, place a piece of chipboard behind the art print of similar size.
Pro-tip: Use a 30 point chipboard, as a backing, for maximum protection. You can also place a 22 point chipboard at the front.
Use 22 or 30 point chipboard for extra protection
Biodegradable Mailer and Bubble Bags
Place the art piece along with the chipboard in a mailer bag. This serves as the external packaging. It serves as the first line of defense against any handling hazards. This is where you will place your stickers and labels. It would be highly advisable to go for biodegradable mailers.
In researching packaging for our baby brand Nightingale, we learned that a large portion of the packaging is not recycled. Almost all plastics take years to break down. So we concentrated on the things that matter most to our customers: quality products and the unboxing experience. We discovered that you can create packaging that reflects your art style and brand without needing to order more than you intend to sell.
Pro-tip: Some mailers have built-in bubble wraps. They are a bit more expensive, but definitely worth the extra cost. It’ll save you time and money, cutting a separate bubble wrap for your design.
- For Canada-based sellers: Rosy Brown Biodegradable Bubble Mailers (6" x 9")
- If you want variety but don’t want to order in bulk, check out Sample 10-pack Mixed Mailers
Check out these bubble mailer bag for your small art prints
Express your creativity with Custom Thank You Notes
Don’t forget to add your personal touch and express your creativity. To level-up the unwrapping experience, try adding customized notes and hand-made cards. Here are a few ways you can do that:
- Add a custom label or a handwritten thank-you note to the external packaging.
- Use eco-friendly washi tape or stickers to hold the card in place.
- Include a presentable business card or QR code to make the experience more interactive.
Pro-tip: Create custom thank you notes for your customers
Labeling Your Artwork
Once you have finished packaging, it is time to add labels and stickers. Labels provide a seamless delivery because they carry the destination address and the tracking number. It provides warnings that help to keep packages safe.
Here is a simple checklist for all the information that must be clearly presented on your labels:
- Origin/return address
- Destination address
- Postal code
- Package weight
- Package quantity
- Shipping class (level of service)
- Electronic tracking number and shipping barcode
- Content (important for international shipping)
Use Shipping Labels from Your Courier
You can create a custom shipping label manually through your carrier’s online service. This is a mandatory sticker for all sorts of shipments. In a previous post, we provided a list of the free shipping materials your courier provides. This will help you not just save the environment, but also on packaging costs.
Eco-friendly Alternatives to Handle With Care Stickers
Although not a legal requirement, ‘handle with care’ or ‘fragile’ stickers are extremely helpful. They serve as an additional layer of protection by warning the handler to be extra cautious.
Pro-tip: You can use ‘handle with care’ stamps to avoid additional costs and to be more environment friendly.
Check out: this posh customized stamp by The Stamp Shop by La Bohemme Paper Co.
Handle with care stamps are eco-friendly alternative to stickers
Gradual Shift to Green Packaging
Changing to sustainable packaging may seem overwhelming at first. There are so many steps and factors to consider, especially when you want to replace everything at the same time. With all the eco-friendly options available, choosing one can be difficult.
Reading other people's experiences can be particularly helpful. Blogger and artist Willowyn, for instance, shared a very inspiring story about how she converted to environmentally friendly options. You can also read about how we were inspired to create these eco-friendly mailer bags and our journey to becoming environmentally friendly.
Don't make the shift in one big go, do it gradually
We can share one important tip from experience: take one step at a time. Start with the simplest possible transition and work your way up. Changing one material at a time can help you go in the right direction. Found new eco-friendly packaging ideas? Share in the comments below!