Personal Subway Art


Subway signs are all over the place.  They can go by the name of typography but all usually have quotes, words of encouragement or even personal family info. I looked into getting one made for me on Etsy, but the cost didn’t outweigh what I was getting.  This is too easy of a task that would cost about $100 on something I knew could be done by myself.

The Process.

Canvas. I purchased a canvas that would fit the space I've imagined.  I went for a long rectangle canvas at  40"x 16"x 1.5".  Purchasing a canvas at Michaels is a must because they have printable coupons directly from the website for 40% off a single item.  Teachers also get a discount with work ID. All you have to do on the website is click on the weekly ad and put in your location to print the coupon. How could you lose?

Letters. Figuring out the lettering a bit harder.  I knew stencils were out of the running because stencils are tough to get just right.  When wandering around the craft store I came upon felt and foam sticker letters ranging from 1/2" to 1".  My whole goal for this subway sign was to have different fonts and sizes so the variety of these stickers was plentiful. What they had was perfect.  I bought three different sizes and fonts.

Color. I chose a metallic Rustoleum hammered gray spray paint that I've used before.  I already knew that the canvas sides would need to be painted black to look like a frame, but choosing the color was a bit harder. The walls are already a light gray color and the darker, splattered gray color is a nice contrast. It really is a personal choice and is based on what color you have going on in your home as well as what you want.

The process.

First. Take a ruler and measure the lines to space the words.  Draw horizontal lines every three inches for the placement of the words.

Next, plan out the words that you want to include on the sign.  Jeff was involved in this process as well as with the placement.  We choose to use family names, states, nationalities, colleges, important dates, zip codes, etc.  It is really important that you lay the letters out before you stick them on.  We changed placement a few times before they were finally stuck on.  We choose staggering from right to left, but it’s all a personal choice.

We got lucky with a warm day when I brought the sign outside to be painted. Put down a drop cloth and spray the canvas with even strokes a few times.  Make sure you get at each angle with your desired color.

When I knew the paint was mostly dry I peeled off the letters and numbers.  This was a process that I wasn’t sure would work out.  With bated breath I pulled them off one by one.  I was so happy with the results.  I loved the fact that there weren’t perfect paint lines as it makes it look far more authentic.

After a day of curing/drying, use a small roller to paint the sides with semi-gloss black paint.  Place the canvas on top of a cardboard box  (new boots box :)) so you can easily access each side.  There were some touch-ups to make sure the black didn’t end up on the front, but a paper towel and finger solved that problem.  After some drying I hung up my personalized subway sign.  

In the beginning it was hard to imagine how this project was going to turn out.  The colored letters and numbers really made it more difficult to imagine the final project.  Once the process was done, I was in love.

<3 mk

* Disclaimer -  We are not a "DRAB" family... it's my maiden name. 

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