Rolling the Print

Rolling Fine Art Prints for Shipping (Podcast 425)

I'm often asked how I package fine art prints for shipping to customers, so I've prepared a short video showing the process, and we're going to expand on that a little today in today's Podcast. I'm also going to be giving away the print that you'll see in the video,...

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Martin Bailey
Martin Bailey is a nature and wildlife photographer and educator based in Tokyo. He's a pioneering Podcaster and blogger, and an X-Rite Coloratti member.
  • Stew
    Posted at 04:47h, 18 June Reply

    Great post Martin. Thank you. I have a question regarding paper thickness. I’ve been printing on hahnemuhle papers that range from 290-325 gsm. Is it safe to roll papers of this thickness? I worry about damaging the paper especially the printed side.

    • Martin Bailey
      Posted at 09:52h, 18 June Reply

      Hi Stew,

      Thanks for watching!

      This is exactly the weight of the paper you saw me roll in the video. The facing paper, as long as it’s smooth, is enough to protect the printed size of the print. If you don’t use that, for sure, the print will be marked. As long as you have a nice smooth facing paper though, it should be fine.


      • Stew
        Posted at 22:31h, 18 June Reply

        Thank you Martin, for so freely sharing your knowledge. We do appreciate what you do. I hope you don’t mind but I have a follow up question. What is the largest size that you will ship flat. I own a Canan 9500 so print size is limited to 19×13.

        Thanks again,

    • Martin Bailey
      Posted at 23:06h, 18 June Reply

      Hi Stew,

      I actually only ship 8.5 x 11 prints flat. Everything else gets rolled. I’ve been considering developing some boxes to ship my own 20×30″ gallery wraps, but I’m not sure it’s worth the hassle at this point. I have started to use Art Storefronts for larger prints (there’s a link under the Shop menu). They’re not “original” but the quality is there.


      • Stew
        Posted at 23:13h, 18 June Reply

        Thanks very much Martin
        I have a 19×13 print that I will be shipping in a few weeks. In the meantime,I think ill mail a rolled 19×13 to myself as a test to see what the process feels like and then improve on the real deal.

        Thanks for your help

    • Martin Bailey
      Posted at 00:19h, 19 June Reply

      The important thing is finding a sturdy tube. As long as you nail that, and use a nice smooth facing paper, the way I show in this video is solid. Let me know how you get on though.

  • Stew
    Posted at 01:13h, 21 June Reply

    Thanks Martin, I’ll give it a go.

  • Fred Weymouth
    Posted at 02:36h, 16 March Reply

    Hi Martin. Very informative and helpful post. One question I have is will I be able to roll matte papers which are cut sheet and not coming off a roll? Are you using roll based prints which already have that natural roll as they come off the printer? Thanks again for the informative article.

    • Martin Bailey
      Posted at 08:58h, 16 March Reply

      Hi Fred,
      I’m pleased you found this helpful.
      You can roll pre-cut sheets like this too. I do use roll paper, but it’s natural curve as it comes off the roll is the opposite direction, as the printable side is always on the outside of the roll. I’m actually rolling against the curve of the paper, so flat sheets are not an issue.

  • Michelle
    Posted at 22:41h, 17 April Reply

    Wonderful! This is exactly what I needed to know. Thank you so much. <3

    • Martin Bailey
      Posted at 19:43h, 03 July Reply

      You’re welcome Michelle! I’m pleased this was useful. 🙂

  • David Ryan Taylor
    Posted at 05:03h, 03 July Reply

    Hello Martin –
    Wondering if you can make a recommendation for the “facing paper” you use? Is this a special paper you use, or is it just a simple roll of inexpensive, thin paper?

  • Ruth @ Purely Splendid
    Posted at 14:34h, 28 February Reply

    Thank you for sharing all your tips and tricks! I just used your method to ship onionskin paper!

    • Martin Bailey
      Posted at 10:38h, 16 August Reply

      Whoops! Sorry for the late reply Ruth. I just saw your comment.

      You’re welcome, on the sharing. I’m pleased this has helped.

  • Sissy
    Posted at 10:35h, 16 August Reply

    Hello I’m new to printing what paper do I use. Print shops around here use a laser printer do I send my file to a company and have them print on special paper thanks so much

    • Martin Bailey
      Posted at 10:40h, 16 August Reply

      Hi Sissy,

      If you are going to send your images out for printing, try They have some beautiful paper and framing options.


  • Vernon Crumrine
    Posted at 06:18h, 04 February Reply

    Very helpful video. Thanks so much for the great tips.

    • Martin Bailey
      Posted at 15:09h, 04 February Reply

      Thanks Vernon. I’m pleased you found it useful.

  • Julian Baird
    Posted at 02:51h, 05 April Reply

    Thank you so much for this highly educational video Martin. I’ve been wanting to get into printing for a while and I finally took the plunge a few weeks ago and picked up a Pixma Pro-10s which I’m very happy with. I had a bit of a head start with printing as I bought your book Making the Print some time ago so I already some of my workflow in place to support printing. Just as I got my printer though a friend of mine in Sweden asked me to make her a print of an image I had taken on a recent visit to Scotland. Thought I wouldn’t necessarily class my photography as fine art, I followed all the steps in your video to ensure the print would arrive in great condition – including the paper with the sticky tabs and bubble wrap stoppers! All great advice. Thanks again for all the content you make – I’ve been listening for more years that I can remember!

    • Martin Bailey
      Posted at 09:12h, 05 April Reply

      That’s great Julian! I’m really happy that this video helped.

      Thanks for listening for all those years. I hope you continue to find my content useful.

      Congratulations and good luck with the new printer.


  • Graham Dunn Photography
    Posted at 02:17h, 05 May Reply

    Hi Martin, really helpful post thank you. I’ve just jumped into the world of printing and am loving it. Hearing your tips on rolling/posting prints has been very timely! A quick question: regarding the facing papers you use, can these be any ‘coated’ paper? I’ve found a coated Canon 140gsm paper that looks promising but wanted to check your thoughts on whether such facing papers have to have acid free qualities, so that the archival status of the print is unaffected? Many thanks, Graham

    • Martin Bailey
      Posted at 09:15h, 05 May Reply

      Hi Graham,

      Thanks for stopping by. I’m pleased this was useful for you.

      The Canon 140gsm coated paper is probably very similar to what I use. They are usually very smooth, produce no dust, and aren’t glossy, so they won’t stick to the print.

      You’ll probably find that these papers are very neutral, if not acid free, although Canon are less likely to make a statement to this effect on such a paper. If you wanted totally acid free archival paper, you might consider some interleaving paper from University Products here:

      In fact, this one is probably what I’d select, because it comes in 36″ wide rolls, which is perfect for most of the prints I ship.

      I may pick some of this up at some point too. I hope that helps!


  • Melissa
    Posted at 05:06h, 18 July Reply

    i was wondering if i could roll package my 13×19 glossy print the same way? Thank you so much!

  • Martin Bailey
    Posted at 09:04h, 18 July Reply

    Hi Melissa,

    It depends on the paper and its coating. I would imagine there are some papers that don’t do well rolled. My suggestion would be to buy a nice wide tube and roll a print, then leave it in the tube for a few days, before taking it back out and checking the print.

    BTW, I have rolled and shipped gloss prints on Breathing Color media without issues.


  • Michael
    Posted at 09:28h, 06 October Reply

    What is the thickest paper you would ever print and roll?

    • Martin Bailey
      Posted at 09:32h, 06 October Reply

      Breathing Color’s Pura Bagasse Smooth is 20mil thick, 320 gsm, and I roll and ship that. If the media comes on rolls, rolling is not an issue, as long as the diameter of your tube is sufficient. Note that I generally try to roll against the original curl to help decurl the image, but for very think media that sometimes requires some decurling beforehand. I feed the print (with facing paper applied) into an old roll of canvas and leave it for half a day to a day.

  • Ted Vieira
    Posted at 12:41h, 22 December Reply

    Hey Martin, thanks very much for the information, man. I’m just starting to ship prints and have been seeing what the best method would be. I’m shipping 13″x19″ Canon Photo Paper Pro Luster paper. I was just wondering about if the paper would retain too much of the curl when shipping in a tube? And, can you recommend a source for ordering the best tubes (strongest). Thank you so much, man. You’re a big help!

    • Martin Bailey
      Posted at 20:37h, 22 December Reply

      Hi Ted,

      I’m pleased this helped!

      I roll the paper against its original curl (for roll media) so after a while it generally just lays flat. For sheet media, or if the print was left in the tube for so long that it doesn’t uncurl itself, I include instructions in my insert for the client to apply the facing paper to the printed side, and roll it around the tube against its curl. If they leave the print like that for a day or so it will flatten out.

      I buy my tubes here in Japan where I live (Sekaido) so I’ve never had a need to source them overseas I’m afraid. The important thing is that they are at least 70mm or around 3 inches in diameter, and the walls should be 2mm or thicker. Ideally also get tubes with capped ends, not pinched. The ones that you pinch closed are easier to crush.

      I hope this helps.


      • Ted Vieira
        Posted at 23:23h, 22 December Reply

        Thank you so much for your input and help, Martin. I really appreciate it. Very cool, man, I’ll go with the tubes and if I get any issues I’ll try something else, but for now it seems like the safest way to go. Thanks again, Happy Holidays! Ted

        • Martin Bailey
          Posted at 23:36h, 22 December Reply

          You’re very welcome Ted. The best of luck, and Happy Holidays to you too!

  • Laura
    Posted at 23:26h, 31 August Reply

    Thanks for the video! Very helpful. I was wondering – do you think it’s better to roll a print by the short side or long side? My husband thinks it should be the latter because you don’t have to roll it as much and it would get less curled, but I’m not so sure.

    • Martin Bailey
      Posted at 09:08h, 06 September Reply

      Hi Laura,

      I’m pleased this was useful.

      Whenever I can get a tube long enough, I prefer to roll the print by the long side, as your husband suggests. For very large prints this is sometimes not possible, and it works fine, but I do prefer to roll as little as possible.


  • Elvina
    Posted at 05:39h, 04 December Reply

    Hi im looking to ship 3 prints in one tube. Do you think it is possible in rolled form? I have options of 230gsm vs 400gsm. I think it may be hard to do that for 400gsm, seems like 230gsm can be rolled (not sure how many in one tube) while 400gsm may be better to be shipped flat than rolled. What do you think?

    • Martin Bailey
      Posted at 10:01h, 04 December Reply

      Hi Elvina,

      Your thinking is good, but it’s hard to say if three will go in one tube without knowing the diameter of the tube, and even then, the ultimate test is actually trying to roll them down to the necessary diameter to fit inside the tube. You can tell when you are overstressing them.

      Also, note that when rolling prints together, you need to have an interleaving sheet between each of them, although this can be very thin interleaving paper, like soft tissue or tracing paper, but it should also be archival quality if possible. Here is what I mean on the University Products website:

      400 gsm is quite stiff, so it might be better to ship it flat, but again, trying to roll a print and feeling how much resistance you get is the only way to really tell. Some paper is just more flexible than others, depending on its physical makeup.


  • Fierelle Namek
    Posted at 23:50h, 27 July Reply

    Hello Martin,

    Thank you for the valuable information on this video. I am new to print making and I was wondering if I could use tracing paper (wax paper) or Tyvek instead of canon coated paper to protect my print. Also, I would like to ask what other paper options I may have aside from canon coated paper if it is not recommended to use wax paper or Tyvek, please. Thank you.

    • Martin Bailey
      Posted at 09:36h, 30 July Reply

      Hi Fierelle,

      You absolutely can use tracing paper, but I would avoid wax paper, as it may mark your print. Ideally, the paper you choose will be archival for long term storage, or at least a media that will not discolor your print, like the Canon paper I use. Tyvek is archival and has no damaging chemicals, but for use as a facing paper, you’d need to check how smooth it is. It can be a bit rough, and therefore could damage the print.

      If I was to buy something specifically for this use right now, I would select this product from University Products:

      I hope that helps!


  • David Israel
    Posted at 14:26h, 02 May Reply

    Thank you for your helpful post. I don’t usually market my photos. I am retired from being a location manager on movies. Someone contacted me and wants to buy 6 photos in 4 different sizes. Can 2 16×20 prints be shipped in one tube? Also 2 12×16’s? How about adding an 11×14 to the 12×16’s and a 20×24 to the 16×20’s?

    Thank you very much.

    All the best,


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