How to Travel with Art Supplies

By Alina Bradford

traveling tips for artistsTraveling with art supplies isn’t just about protection, it’s also about airport guidelines.Before an artist can even think about stepping on a plane, every bottle or tube of paint, every pastel, every pencil, every brush and every canvas must be carefully considered or else the art supply may get trashed or be trashed before the trip even starts. Here is how to make sure that every supply gets to the destination in one piece.


Up until recently, many artists carried their art supplies in their carryon bags. Carrying paint onto a plane is still permissible, according to the TSA guidelines, as long as the container is 3oz. or smaller. These paints must be placed in a clear, zip-top quart bag. Also, each passenger is only allowed one plastic bag, so all the carryon paints must fit into a quart bag. This is pretty unlikely for most artists.

The best way to transport paints is by placing them into waterproof bags and placing them in a checked bag. During flight, the changes in air pressure can loosen the caps on tubes and bottles, making them leak. The waterproof bags keep any leaked paint contained and away from other items.

Canvas and Papers

Canvases and papers can be awkward to travel with. The artist has to worry about damage and their unwieldy size. One solution is to mail the canvases to the destination and mail them back home at the end of the trip. Papers can be rolled and contained in a mailing tube. The mailing tube can be taken as a carryon or packed with carryon luggage.

Oil, Soft and Hard Pastels

Traveling with pastels can seem like carrying an egg in a spoon. Their fragile nature leaves them open to expensive damage. Protect them by adding a layer or two of quilt batting over the pastels before closing the pastel box. This will help to absorb some of the shock the pastels will face from being jostled. Some artists like to keep their pastels in a box of dry rice to absorb shock. The smart pastel artist may want to add a couple of strips of masking tape to the pastel box to keep it securely closed during travel.

Drawing Supplies

Naturally, most drawing supplies can be packed on a carryon. Before leaving home, though, artists should check their drawing supplies for knifes or metal files used for sharpening pencils. These will be taken away at the airport.


The best way to travel with brushes is by wrapping them in cloth. This keeps the bristles from getting splayed from impact damage. This can be done be purchasing a cloth brush satchel, wrapping brushes in rags or by wrapping them in clothing that will be taken on the trip. The trick is using fabric that is several inches bigger than the brushes. The extra fabric at the ends cushions the brushes from impacts. You can learn more about creating a cloth brush holder by reading this article: How to Make a Cloth Brush Holder

These guidelines will keep art supplies safe and out of the security checkpoint trash can.

Comments are closed.