DIY Subway Art Idea For the Silhouette-less

Can’t believe it is Thursday – this week is speeding by and I can’t seem to get caught up as I was too busy entering all the Silhouette giveaways.  Of course, I didn’t win, but it was worth trying.

I work in display and I use “vinyls” or “VATS” as we call them in the display trade – every day.   No fun projects, only brand and product names – which got me to thinking of  “logos”.

If you know me by now, you know I like to find creative ways to re-use stuff we normally throw away – which brings me to what I just finished making.  It is my version of subway art for those of us who do not own a Silhouette, don’t stamp, or have any letter stencils. I have seen a lot of subway art ideas, but none using paper.

For my creation, I used shopping bags – you know the ones you get at the mall when you buy a shirt from the Gap or candles at Pottery Barn.  I save these bags, as some of them are so pretty. For the most part I use them to carry my lunch to work in style or to protect book covers, but I had quite a few in my stash and played around with all the logos printed on the bags. I am calling it – LogoArt.

supplies needed:

  • Shopping bags with store or product logos
  • Scissors, spray glue, a protective spray matte sealer, staple gun and staples, straight edge/T-Square
  • Thick Fom-Cor or a plywood board cut to desired size
  • Ribbon about 1/4″ – 1/2″ wide.  You will need ribbon about as wide as the thickness of your board
  • Picture hanging hardware

Be kind to the earth- recycle, reuse, re-purpose.  Be creative with your stuff”


1.  Gather your shopping bags.

DIY Subway Art Ideas

2.  Cut foam or plywood board to size desired.   I used a Fom-Cor board that I rescued from the compactor at work.

DIY subway art ideas

3.  Cut out all the logos on the bags.  I initially cut each logo out on all sides, I should have kept them long on the sides.  This way as you add the logos to the board you can cut them to the length needed to fit the width of the board.

Subway Art Ideas

4. Work outdoors if you are going to use spray glue. I made this out on my deck. Arrange the logos on the board, playing with the colors and sizes to create visual balance. I placed the larger logos on the bottom and the smaller ones on top.  Leave about a 1/2″ on the sides, top and bottom to overlap the edges of the board. Once you like the layout, start from the bottom and begin spraying the back of each logo with spray glue.  Let the glue get tacky before placing on the board.  Smooth each piece with your hand.


Subway Art tutorial

5.  Using a staple gun, staple the excess of each piece to the edge of the board.

Subway Art Ideas

6.   To protect your logos, evenly spray a few light coats of a protective finish.  I used this sealer.  I didn’t want a shiny look.  Let it dry thoroughly.

Clear Acrylic Sealer


7.  Measure the perimeter of the board and cut ribbon a few inches longer than that measurement.

Wall art ideas to make and create

Decorative tacks

Nail head trim

8.  Starting at the top, fold one end of the ribbon over about an inch.  Press a tack into this starting place.  Wrap ribbon along edge of the board and place a tack into the board at even intervals until you get back to the starting point.  You can remove the first tack and place the opposite end under the starting end, then press the tack back in. This will give you a finished look.

Wall art ideas to make

9.  Place picture hanging hardware on the back and hang.


DIY Subwat Art Ideas

Subway art ideas using shopping bags

DIY Subway art ideas

Wall art ideas

How to Repurpose Paper Shopping Bags into Stylish Art

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  1. Anne Lynn Jarman says:

    I struggled with the idea for a while but then realized the true genius behind it. Diane, not derivative of Andy Warhol but similar to the soup cans, the board is truly art of the 20th and 21st century. It portrays the excesses and yet joys of our society.
    The execution is exquisite by the way. The grosgrain and studs were the perfect touch.
    I really do mean all of that, I do think it might be ‘high art’ so treat it very carefully. It’s fabulous and I want one for myself for my bedroom hallway.
    I love your site, it has the perfect mixture of yard, house, craft and now art. And it certainly isn’t chichi.
    Kudos for the art!

  2. I am a bag saver. I did something similar. I framed the individual bags. I went on EBay. There were tons of people selling their bags. I would buy a group of bags for about $20.00. Prada, Hermès, Tiffany, Jimmy Choo etc. the Jimmy Choo bag still had the credit card receipt in it for $2500.00. WAY out of my budget. Plus the best thing about it is I cut the bags in half (front and back the design is the same). So I still have the other halves that I can frame also.

  3. OMG! I love this idea. This is so cute and I would love to go and try this. Such a creative way to show who you are.

  4. I like the idea, but why would one want to have advertising as decor in their home?

    1. HI Holly – If you love fashion and color then the logos are just a fun way to add some color and style to a wall very inexpensively. I also love type and fonts so I consider logos as art.

  5. I really like your logo subway art! My daughter has a collection of hip shopping bags in her closet, even though she’s been away at college for 4 years. Hmmm…that gives me an idea! I know exactly what to make for her. Thanks for your inspiration. I also like the book covers. You can laminate the cover once it’s cut out to protect it from tearing. Just found your blog via Coffee Cups and Crafts. Would love for you to come visit me when you get a moment.

  6. Just discovered your blog and love your ideas!
    I had to laugh at the book covers… We used to cover our books in The Levis store bag and some others, in middle school – back in the 70s. We didn’t have the tragically hip stores they have now, LOL.

  7. I love your recycled bags as art.

  8. I LOVE your logo board, and have dug out dozens and dozens of shopping bags I’ve saved, and now I know what to do with them all! Thanks so much for the inspiration, it’s high on my “to do” list as soon as the holidays are over. What is the overall size of yours?? It’s perfect. Thanks again and Merry Christmas

    1. Hi Laura-

      I just measured it – 21″ x 71″
      Have fun making it. When I was cutting out all the logos I tried to remember everything I bought that came home in each of the bags I had collected. I only remembered a few of the items. I wondered how much money I must have spent , too :)

      Thanks for leaving me a comment – I love to hear from my readers. Merry Christmas

  9. Lilianna Grace says:

    Love this logo art board! How do I order, where do I pay, and can you ship by Christmas? Haha! All kidding aside, I do love it. I’m going to have to start saving more bags. I guess I should go shopping right now! Thanks for sharing this awesome and uniquely creative peice of custom made art!

    1. Hi Lilianna-

      This is the season to gather lots of them. All the mall stores have them. You can also use advertisments with logos on them.

  10. Amanda @ House Revivals says:

    I really love this. Maybe I’ve said that before? Did you know Tatertots and Jello is having an ongoing linky for “subway art” ? I think this qualifies! The button is in her sidebar.

  11. Brilliant! Love your site!

  12. Katharine says:

    My fashionista daughter would love both of these ideas. It’s time to wrap the books again. This is much more fun than brown kraft paper. lol I wonder if we have any bags left.

  13. Melanie J says:

    I love this idea and Im soooooo gonna use it for my high school daughter. She loves shopping and hates carrying books. Maybe this will motivate her….wow such a great idea! I mean the book socks things are cute and easy but this is so cool, you can have your friends sign it and them frame it in your room (im speaking as if I were a teen…..yea probably time for bed now).lol Thanks for the great idea.

  14. Wow! I’m so impressed! It’s creative and beautiful.

  15. It looks wonderful. I like store bags too. Great idea.

  16. kimbowest says:

    loved this! featured this on my blog today

  17. T.bird @ Nestled In Rosenberg says:

    This is such a cool project! My teen daughter has a closet full of shopping bags from all her favorite clothing stores. They are just piled up for no reason. I showed her your project and she loves the idea of doing this! :) We are going to try this, and when we do, I’ll be sure to link back to your project. Thanks for this inspiration!!


  18. Love these ideas. I think the wall art would be great for my sister’s college apartment and I know my daughter would love the American eagle and hollister bags as her book covers! Perfect!

  19. Stephanie Lynn says:

    Hi Diane. This is such a clever idea. I would love to make one for my closet! So creative and clever. The book covers are also fabulous! I’ll be featuring this today. Stop by and grab a featured button if you like. Thanks so much for joining the Sunday Showcase party! Hope you have a wonderful week! ~ Stephanie Lynn

  20. Jennie Larsen says:

    HOLY COW love LOVE LOVE the shopping subway art, so brilliant. That belongs in EVERY girls room young or old! HA! please link this up to next mondays CraftOManiac Monday Link party. Jen~

  21. Angie @ The Country Chic Cottage says:

    Awesome idea!! This is now on the to do list for the teenager!!

  22. amy@maisondecor says:

    These two projects are note worthy! They both are so cute and stylish and Green!! I love the poster you hung..I also love the window treatment…any more pics of that in another one of your posts?

  23. Love these! I have seen, though, books covered with bags whose handles were left in tact.

    1. Hi Kell-

      Keeping the handles on would be very handy and let you carry the book like a tote bag. Very clever. I am assuming the other side of the bag could be cut and then glued together so the handles would be centered on the bag and front of the book, if you didn’t cut the bag in that way, the handles would not line up. I love new ideas and am gonna have to play around with it. Thanks for sharing.
      My best- Diane

  24. Vicki Johnson says:

    Wow… what a fantastic idea…and so fun! TFS… Vicki

  25. What Wonderful Ideas. Love them, thank you for sharing. Jamie

  26. Amazing ideas…I’m fisrts time here in your blog and definetly going to visit another and third and many times more…you are very talelnted…love your recycling ideas..:D

    Mirja From Finland

  27. Gosh both projects are so cool! I love that they are green projects too. Good job. Thanks for sharing.

  28. Diane, you’re a genius! Gorgeous art work!! And can I say, you must do some fabulous shopping?? :) Thanks SO much for linking this great post up to Style Feature Saturday! -shaunna :)

  29. Terry Hansen says:

    What a fantastic idea! My daughter has been studying abroad in Japan for five months and comes home on Tuesday. I told her to save everything so we could create a scrapbook. But how fun to make this wall hanging and each day she’ll be able to remember her time there. I’m your newest follower and can’t wait to see what else you’ve created so I can copy!! LOL

  30. Elizabeth says:

    Pretty smart, if you ask me! Love your ideas! I’m not into labels, but I know that my sister would love a piece of art like that – would totally go with her decor. And…my boys are only almost 4 and almost 1, so I have a little time to wait before covering books, but I’ll have to file that idea away as SMART! :)

  31. Kim @ Cheap Chic Home says:

    This is so cute! I wasn’t sure I’d like the logos, but the finished product is great. The book covers are a wonderful idea, too. I always hate to throw those bags away. Thanks for sharing.

  32. Oh how fun! I love seeing so many different fonts styled through logos, making them so familiar, funky, & fun. Great green dec idea! :>

  33. Andrea | says:

    Super creative and I love how you reused something that most people would toss!

    And the shopping bag book cover reminds me of the year my teen daughter made me cover a book with the shirtless model on the Abercrombie & Fitch shopping bag! (Even funnier was that he was sporting a pen-drawn mustache before the year was over!)

  34. What a great idea for shopping bags. I always save mine, but then they just collect dust. Thanks for sharing!

  35. Funky Junk Interiors says:

    Is this ever cool! I love the wall hanging but love the book covers even more!

    Luckily, my son could care less about brand names… FOR NOW. :) Thrift store shopping bags will NOT give you this look I’m afraid. LOL


  36. oh btw, one more question, is Alex and Ivy still in business or is that an older bag? I used to LOVE that store but ours closed YEARS ago!

    1. Hi Robyn-

      It is a very old bag. I think probably 20 years plus. Proof that I have been saving bags for a long time. I remember loving the store, too. There is another bag – from Bamberger’s which hasn’t been in business for a long time either – loved shopping there. Macy’s bought them out.

      My best- Diane

  37. I’m just tickled pink I found you on Chic on a Shoestring Budget…you have awesome ideas and great STYLE!!! I’m a new follower! LOVE BOTH the subway board and the book covers! My oldest daughter would especially LOVE that in her room! Funny about the book covers, last year (8th grade) my daughter said EVERYONE carted their gym suit back and forth from home on Fridays in either a Holister bag, AE or Abercrombie. YOu just HAD to she said! LOL

  38. Diane, thank you very much for your sweet comment!!!

  39. Kathy @ Creative Home Expressions says:

    What a great wall decor idea, Diane! I love it for a teen bedroom or dorm room, especially for the Shopper! Even an adult who does fashion or shopping for a living. Love the idea of covering books, too. Mine are grown now, but I used to just use the plain old brown grocery bag to cover my kids’ school books. I really like how these bags dress it up and make it so original.

  40. Ulina Tauer says:

    How beautiful your creations are!!! Very good ideas!!!
    By accident I posted about this topic (“reusing”) today, too.
    Have a peek if you want to at … I would also appreciate a comment :-)
    Thanks for sharing your ideas with us!

  41. You are so fabulously creative!!! Never, ever thought of this but love it! We don’t have a lot of high end shopping bags but know some people who do. What a great way to recycle.

  42. Personally…better than any silhouette could do. Original and utterly fabulous. You always surprise me!

  43. These are both such cool ideas! Way to upcycle!

  44. Really like… no, I LOVE these ideas. What a wonderful way to not only recycle, but to make art or useful products out of them. The book covers are SO much nicer than the brown paper bags I had to use!!!!! Thanks for sharing!!

    1. Hi Debbie-

      I hesitated about posting this, since it wasn’t “high tech”, but the old-school way of doing things. It makes me smile to know that you love the projects.
      Thanks -Diane

  45. Your Silhouette-less sign is genius! I applaud you not only for your creativity but also for a great use of the logos. Two thumbs WAY up.

    1. Thanks Mel for leaving me such a nice comment! xo

  46. Great ideas. I particularly love the shopping bag-book cover idea. The covers I buy are too small and the prints are not my 16 year old’s idea of cool. I think the American Eagle bags that his school clothes came in (or the Hollister one) would be much better. Thanks.

    1. Hi Nancy-

      I figure we spend so much money at all the mall stores buying our kids back to school clothes, we might as well get as much out of the merchandise and the bags as possible. Hollister has very “cool” bags.