How To Ship Flat: A Handy Guide to Shipping Prints and Art (8×10 or smaller)

“The package has arrived, gentlemen.” – The Usual Suspects (1995)

As an art collector, I both purchase and occasionally sell art. One of the aspects I take seriously as both a buyer and seller, is the way items are shipped.  It’s no secret that any carrier you select isn’t handling your items with white glove service, unless of course you’re paying an extremely large amount of money for said service.

I always want any item I send, regardless of price or value, to arrive safely to the recipient with as little hassle as possible. Getting it done in a cost-effective manner is a nice bonus.  So after years of practice and perfecting my methods, I decided to write up a quick, simple, safe, and cost-effective way to ship out a specific type of art: prints and/or originals, sized 8×10 or smaller.

So, here we go…..


1

You’ll need the four things listed above:

(1) Masonite: You can buy 4’x8’sheets of this at Home Depot inexpensively, and they’ll cut it down for you for free. The size we’re using here is 9″x12″, which should allow you to get 40 pieces, if cut properly.

(2) Painter’s Tape: Just about any brand will work.  I prefer either Scotch, 3M, or Duct brands.  This tape works well because it’s made to stick, but not so much that it damages anything when removed.  Please to not use shipping tape or actual silver duct tape for this.

(3) Scissors: I would hope this doesn’t need an explanation, but you never know?  These are strictly for cutting the tape.

(4) Flat-Rate Padded Mailer: These are available free of charge, through USPS.com.  They can only be used for Flat-Rate Priority shipping, which is what we’ll be using.  With these padded mailers, you can ship items of any weight inside them for a flat rate  This helps us since Masonite is heavier than standard paper or cardboard. With the protection it provides however, this is definitely the way to go.  You can order packs of 10 or 15 mailers, with no limit, and have them delivered right to your home. Just be prepared to wait a few weeks for delivery.


2

Any art that you send should always be in some sort of protector.  I cannot stress this enough.  I’ve received art before that was just placed into a standard mailer, and it’s infuriating. If you appreciate or respect the art, then show it. I spring for archival poly sleeves that you can get at pretty much any craft or hobby store. They have an adhesive strip on the back to allow you to seal it with the overlapping flap, so that the art is completely protected.

The Masonite pieces have two different sides.  One side is smooth, while the other has a rougher textured feel.  You can see in the photo above a closeup of the two sides.  Because any kind of texture will cause friction, you want to sandwich the art between the smoother sides, with the rougher textured sides forming the outside of your protector.

Although we’re using 9″x12″ Masonite sheets for this, you can use smaller if necessary for any reason.  Just make sure to leave yourself 1/4-1/2 inch on every side of the art for safety reasons.


3

Cut your painter’s tape into strips a few inches long.  These will be placed on each of the corners of the art.  Avoid using one long strip (or many small ones) to cover the entire border of the print.  This makes it harder for the recipient to remove the tape without damaging the print. A small strip on the corner will secure the art perfectly fine as long as you follow the steps shown above.

Place the tape over the corner so that a small edge of tape adheres to the masonite on both edges of the actual corner. This acts as a “corner pocket” to prevent the art from shifting while in transit.

If you want to be really cool to the person you’re shipping to, fold over a small flap into the tape, which will act as a handle for them to pull to remove the tape.  I normally put this flap away from the edge (as shown above) so that when being pulled, there’s no chance of the art being pulled or creased.  Once you have all the corners taped, you’d ready to start packing it up.


4

Make sure the smooth sides of your masonite are facing each other, leaving the textured sides on the outside.  This give the art two smooth sides to be sandwiched in-between. Using your painter’s tape, wrap around the masonite as shown above. Once you’re done taping, the masonite will slide securely into your mailer, ready to be sealed.

You can now print out your own shipping, or pay for it in your local post office. I recommend just using your PayPal account, as it’s easier and cheaper. Many people are under the impression that you can only use PayPal for shipping as long as your transaction was process through it.  This is luckily not the case.  You can use PayPal to ship any item, at any time, regardless if you we’re paid through it or not.

You can click here, which will allow you to create a shipping label, paid directly from your PayPal account, without having to have processed a transaction.  This comes in handy especially for those who may be trading art, or gifting it.  There is usually a discount of around $1 through this method. If you don’t use PayPal however, you can always visit USPS.com and purchase shipping through their site, or directly at your local U.S. Post Office.


Now that the basics are out of the way, there are a few tips for those shipping more than one item, wanting extra protection, etc.

Multiple Items:  If you’re wanting to ship more than one item using this method, then I would suggest cutting your masonite down to 8.5″ x 11″ to give yourself some room.  This gives you a little more space inside the mailer, to allow for more sheets of masonite. Since the shipping is flat rate, the weight doesn’t matter. For adding any additonal pieces of art, unless you’re simply doubling up on the masonite, you’ll be using one of the textured sides of the masonite (since you already have one piece of art sandiwched between the two smooth sides. I suggest placing a piece of card stock in between the art and the textured side of the masonite to help prevent the friction, and then attaching the art to the smooth side of the additional piece of masonite you’re using.

Extra Protection:  Some of you may be super paranoid with high-value items, or original sketches, etc. If you still want to ensure protection, I suggest using some basic 3/16″ bubble wrap.  I usually grab one of these 12″ x 30′ rolls from Wallmart. They’re perforated every 12 inches.  I normally just wrap it around the masonite once, and trim off the extra 3 inches from the side.

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For those of you who came here specifically for this article, hopefully this helps you out. If you just happened to come across it while browsing, I hope you weren’t too incredibly bored.

 

Until next time……..

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Author: GeekCommander

Born and raised in Texas, I live in the best city in the world, Austin. I spent the majority of my life sequestered in random theaters watching whatever I could, or in front of a TV ruining beloved VHS tapes and DVDs from overuse. I tend to act as a human IMDB for friends and family, as I have an uncanny (some would say useless) ability to remember a plethora of random facts regarding any given movie, actor/actress, etc. I spend the majority of my time these days passing on my geeky tendencies to my two kids. Confirmed Nerd. Lover of Film and TV. Extreme Hoarder of Collectibles: Screenprints, Statues, Action Figures, Prop Replicas, and piles of other stuff I deem incredibly valuable. Also, I usually have a beard.

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