Shipping Costs for Artwork

Shipping Costs for Artwork

I get asked lots of questions about shipping cost that are divided into 2 basic categories: 1. Should I charge a cost for shipping my paintings?; 2. How do I add shipping costs to my website?

Let's address the first question: Should I Charge Shipping Costs?
First, let me say that I do charge for shipping for all of my physical products, which include paintings. I know that we are in the Amazon era, and it's something that I discuss with my students with regard to having a great payment and shopping cart system on their websites.

My business model however, is not the same as Amazon. They have millions of people paying them $119 a year to help them cover free shipping costs for their customers. They also have negotiated special shipping pricing from the US Postal Service.

Here is the way I approach it as a business owner. Shipping is a business cost. I build my own boxes to ship paintings in - actually two boxes for each painting - an inner box and an outer box to better protect the artwork. I spend time driving to the next town over to get the cardboard. I spend time making the boxes. I spend time taking the package to the post office of the UPS store for shipping. If it takes me two hours to do all that, I just burned through $300. Someone has to pay for the time, plus the cost of shipping, or I'm losing money.

Let's say, as an artist, I just can't bring myself to charge my customers for shipping. What are my options? If you aren't going to charge for shipping, then somehow you have to build in the shipping costs to your paintings. That sounds logical and easy, but is it really?

Suppose I ship internationally and domestically. I may be shipping a painting to my state or a neighboring state, or I may be shipping to Australia or New Zealand. How on earth can I possibly build in a price for each painting taking those factors into consideration? You'll most likely have to build in a price to ship to Australia into every painting - but is that fair for the customer who lives in your state? Why should that customer pay the same cost as the person in Australia? It isn't equitable, is it?

Shipping cost is another piece of leverage that you can use in case someone asks for a discount on a painting (there are always folks who do). Instead of offering to discount the artwork, you could offer free shipping instead. This keeps your art priced the same, while you simply discount a service associated with the art.

How do I figure out how to add shipping costs to the prices on my website?
This question is more difficult to answer because each website provider's platform is different. If you have a more sophisticated plan or provider, they may automatically add the carrier's shipping cost based on weight data that you input. Other platforms may require you to set up a shipping data chart to upload for the correct shipping costs. Each platform varies, so each will be different. Investigate your platform to determine the best way to apply the costs - don't be afraid to ask the folks in customer service to assist you.

Let me know how you address shipping cost for your customers.

If you'd like to learn to more about abstract painting and art business, then please join me for a painting workshop: (You can view a list of 2018 workshops HERE)

  • July 27-29 Western Colorado Center for the Arts, Grand Junction, CO. To register contact Haley Van Camp:
  • August 8-10 David M. Kessler Fine Art Studio, Winston-Salem, NC. For information and registration Click Here.
  • August 23-25 Franciscan Life Process Center, Lowell, MI. For more information and registration Click Here.
  • September 6-8 Live Your Art Studio, Carlsbad, CA. For more information and registration Click Here.
  • September 10-12 Merced Art Center, Merced, CA. To register contact Bo Petty 209-388-1090.

As always, thanks so much for your support!


P.S. If you you'd like to learn how to paint abstracts in the comfort of your home or studio, Abstract Painting Academy is my online course:

Abstract Painting Academy is the next best thing to a live workshop event. You can find out more by Clicking Here.




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