Resolution Subway Art – Tutorial

How to make vintage subway sign-inspired art. DIY tutorial via
This was my submission from the SYTYC “New Year’s” Challenge….I finally won a challenge! That puts Dana and I into the final two this coming week!

I haven’t made resolutions for the past few new years because I usually forget about them after a few weeks. This year as a family we came up with a short list of things we wanted to focus on everyday and I made the list into a large piece of art. I love that this large 3 foot high wood piece is reminiscent of an early 20th century subway sign.

How to make vintage subway sign-inspired art. DIY tutorial 2 via
It is durable enough to hang in an outside eating area:

How to make vintage subway sign-inspired art. DIY tutorial 3 via
It is simple enough to rest on a side table:

How to make vintage subway sign-inspired art. DIY tutorial 4 via
And it is bold enough to display on a mantle as the focus of a room:

How to make vintage subway sign-inspired art. DIY tutorial 5 via
Here is how I made it:

Step 1: I bought a ready cut 2′ x 4′ piece of wood from my hardware store and had them shorten it to 2′ x 3.’

Resolution Subway Art - Tutorial step 1 via
Step 2: I also bought long wood molding strips that were 1/2″ wide and 1 1/2″ deep. I started on one edge of my large flat piece of wood and marked where I would need to cut.

Resolution Subway Art - Tutorial step 2 via
Step 3: I used a large mite saw to cut the corners at a 45 degree angle. If you don’t have a mitre saw you can use a simple plastic mitre box and hand saw. There are only a few cuts so it won’t take that long.

Resolution Subway Art - Tutorial step 3 via
Step 4: I squeezed wood glue onto one of the long edges of the underside of my large board…..

Resolution Subway Art - Tutorial step 4 via
…..and turned it over onto one of the long wood trim pieces and used hammer and nails to secure it.

Resolution Subway Art - Tutorial step 4a via
I repeated this step, fitting each piece carefully into place until my piece looked like this:

Resolution Subway Art - Tutorial step 4b via
Step 5: I used these little “nail-in” brackets from the hardware store as well to secure the corner pieces.

Resolution Subway Art - Tutorial step 5 via
Step 6: I sprayed the entire wood piece with primer.

Resolution Subway Art - Tutorial step 6 via
Step 7: I sanded it down to remove any significant wood grain. Then I sprayed the entire piece with white spray paint.

Resolution Subway Art - Tutorial step 7 via
Step 8: I created this little template using Powerpoint to that I could space the letters for each line. Feel free to use this one or at least parts of it. Click image below to download:

Step 9: I printed out my resolutions on regular sized paper. Then I took it to Fed Ex/Kinkos and used the large copier to enlarge it to the exact width I needed (cost about $4).

Resolution Subway Art - Tutorial step 9 via

Step 10: I cut strips of vinyl contact paper the same width as the wording (the vinyl contact paper came in a 12″ height so I could only fit 3 lines at a time on each strip).

Resolution Subway Art - Tutorial step 10 via
Step 11: I used spray adhesive to attach the photo copy to the top of the contact paper. (Note: Do NOT apply to the paper side of the contact paper, you will be peeling this off later.)

Resolution Subway Art - Tutorial step 11 via
Step 12: Then I trimmed around each line of words.

Resolution Subway Art - Tutorial step 12 via
Step 13: I evenly spaced each set of words out along the board marking a “guide” line with pencil below each. Then I cut out each letter, peeled off the paper back and adhered to the board.

Resolution Subway Art - Tutorial step 13 via
Step 14: I used a brayer to make sure each letter was adhered smoothly to the board.

Resolution Subway Art - Tutorial step 14 via
Step 15: I sprayed the top and sides of the board with black spray paint. I did one coat at a time letting each dry well before applying the next coat.

Resolution Subway Art - Tutorial step 15 via
Step 16: Once the board was completely coated and had time to dry…..

Resolution Subway Art - Tutorial step 16 via
…I carefully peeled off each contact paper letter.

Resolution Subway Art - Tutorial step 16a via
Step 17: I used a white paint pen to touch up any letters that needed it.

Resolution Subway Art - Tutorial step 17 via
Step 18: Last step was to attach screws eyes (1/3 of the way down the back) and wire to hang!

Resolution Subway Art - Tutorial step 18 via



Visit the following tutorial too! Click the image for the post:

Subway Art Pillows: DIY Subway Sign inspired pillows via



  1. Kristin says

    Funny, I never realized that you hadn't actually won a challenge…I guess as voters we are just happy to see all the fun stuff each of you guys come up with! Good job!

  2. Marjorie says

    Wow! I absolutely love this! Thanks for sharing all of the steps! What a great piece of art!

  3. KJ says

    I voted for you at the SYTC challenge. I thought this piece was amazing. Thanks for sharing the instructions!

  4. kitsy says

    Such a great project!! I always admired similar ideas I had seen in Pottery Barn magazines, but just couldn't figure out how to do it economically!! What a wonderful tutorial.

    Perhaps an Exacto knife instead of scissors will help Shari and Amber cut the letters out easier? My tool of choice, scissors and I never got along well!

  5. Ashley says

    I use small detail scissors to cut the letters out…..the tips are perfect for getting into small areas.

  6. Caroline says

    I absolutely LOVE this! It was definitely my favorite for the last challenge. Good luck in the final! I'm rooting for you! = )

  7. Little eco footprints says

    Wow! I just love it. I have a list of words as my resolutions this year I'd love to create one of these. Thank you for sharing.


  8. The Mendoza Family says

    I LOVE your stuff! Would you mind emailing me about advertising on your WAY AWESOME blog?? My computer won't let me email when I click on emails like yours!! mine is sweetonyoucakeshop@hotmail(dot)com
    Thank you SO much!!! Hope to hear from you!

  9. Kim at Polka Dot Thought says

    Oh this is fabulous!!! What a terrific idea. Makes me even happier that I'm back into reading blogs again when seeing great ideas like this! I'm back as well (after months of being MIA)! Check out my latest post on Faith :) I'll def. be back to continue reading on what I've missed over the past few months!

    Thank you for your continual support!

  10. De Javu Crafts says

    So i love your blog…im sure i have told you that before. i think your so creative and just GREAT…i just started my own craft blog and i hope some day i can be as CRAFTY as you…
    anyways i used one of your tutorials a few months back to make my little girl a dress… and i posted the link to your blog i hope you dont mind….
    when you have time you should check it out..

  11. kristena marie says

    I love this! Thanks for the tutorial. I've been thinking hard about how to simplify my resolutions into cool poster form. :)

  12. Ms. Rabsatt says

    I really love this! I'm not nearly handy enough to make it myself but would buy it in an instant!

  13. Chelsea says

    Hey – what typeface did you use? Is it obvious and I'm missing it? Most likely the case….

  14. Stephanie Lynn says

    You did a fantastic job – it looks amazing! Thanks for sharing your techniques. Congratulations on your win!

  15. Struggler says

    How lovely – original idea and personal to your family, too.
    Good luck keeping your resolutions!!

  16. Catherine says

    I saw your version of subway art somewhere in blog land and have been trying to figure out how I can make this for my kitchen – then today I happen upon this tutorial. Thank you I feel like I won the lottery. I absolutely love this!

  17. Alison says

    I was so inspired by this I blogged about it over at my blog. Thanks for the fab. tutorial & great ideas :)

  18. housewife says

    i LOVE this project and the tutorial. i want to do something like this for my bedroom.

    thank you!

  19. Heather says

    I've been trying to think of a way to keep things I want to keep in mind in my face. I'm going to use a prestretched canvas I think.

  20. astarterhouse says

    LOVE this! What a great job! and a HUGE thank you for letting me know of the existence of a miter box…we thought we were going to have to say good by to the miter saw we've been borrowing and either purchase our own or do without…this is fantastic and I'm excited that I can go buy something similar and put a little sweat equity into my projects instead of paying for it out of my pockets!

  21. satakieli says

    This is fantastic, just what I need for my currently empty foyer wall. I think I even have some lovely scrap wood somewhere from an old bookcase that fell apart that I can use!

    Hope you have a great weekend!

  22. CB says

    I found your Subway Art via a google search. I adapted a little bit for my lack of power tools but I think it turned out great. If I do say so myself! Can't wait to make another one for my livingroom. THANK YOU for the inspiration for mine. Click (here) if you wanna check it out!

  23. Tara says

    This is AWESOME! What a cool way for families to personalize the message. I can't wait to make it!

  24. smoothshoesandcooltattoos says

    wow, contact paper was a brilliant idea! i was struggling with trying to stencil onto canvases with paint and making a huge mess (i'm making an actual subway sign because i'm a native new yorker and have a theme going in my hallway)… i asked amy from mod podge rocks what she'd recommend and she linked me to your blog. amazing! this tutorial just totally saved me lots of time and aggravation! thanks for this!

  25. shellyshuey says

    That was a huge project! Not sure I can do it, but will try with a smaller board and see where it takes me.

  26. Steph says

    Thank you for this tutorial. I finally did it!! Although mine is nowhere near as fabulous as yours!!

  27. Inspire Me Heather says

    This has got to be the best tutorial out there! I linked it to my "subway art" post, thanks!

  28. Jonathan DiBlasi says

    Hi Ashley! I have all of the needed supplies, and am at the step of cutting out the letters and placing them on the board. How exactly did you cut out your letters so perfectly? I read that you made a guideline with a pencil to line them up, but how exactly did you cut the letters out? I am just trying to figure out the best way to cut these darn letters out! My email is jonathan(dot)diblasi(at)gmail(dot)com

    Thanks again!


  29. Jonathan DiBlasi says

    So, I did it! The hardest part was that I didn't sand down the wood grain enough, so on EVERY SINGLE LETTER black spray paint leaked into the letter. So I had to get masking tape, mask around EVERY SINGLE LETTER, and then with a brush re-paint all of the letters. Took forever, but well worth it!

    Work In Progess, Near the beginning:

    All letters placed, about to paint:

    Finished (Needs some touching up though):

  30. Cassy says

    thanks for sharing! I LOVE this idea. I am going to put a link to this project on a post tomorrow! thanks for sharing!

  31. Tami says

    LOVE this! I made one for my husband for our 1st Wedding Anniversary! I’m giving it to him on Sunday & just KNOW he will love it! Thank you for posting this! I love it! I’ve posted mine & linked to you! Check it out!


  32. Jennifer says

    Love this! I made a ‘Welcome board’ instead of a ‘resolution board’ for the entry way of my house…SO cute. Thank you so much for sharing!

  33. Jennifer Williams says

    Thank you for the precise and detailed tutorial! I’ll be able to do this fun project because of your great step-by-step! Thanks!

  34. Erick Salgado says

    First of all, I LOVE your blog!
    I just found it today on and I have seen many of your posts that are amazing!
    I was also wondering something…The project seems amazing, but for a newbie like me in DIY projects, I’d like to skip the wood cutting. Do you think there is a way to do it on a blank white painting canvas instead?

  35. says

    I know this is from last year, but I just LOVE it as much as I did a year ago. I featured this idea on my facebook page tonight :)

  36. says

    Love this idea – I’m hoping that I get more votes so that I can try it as part of my blog series Thnx Pinterest & You. If enough people vote for it I will make sure to show you my results -your tutorial is great! Thnx

  37. says

    I love this project. I want to do one with song lyrics from Run DMC or the Beastie Boys. I have so many ideas for this project. Thank you as always for the inspiration to create wonderful things. I’ve decided that you should run for President. Boo will be the VP. :0)

  38. Megan says

    Brilliant. I’m so excited to do this. It’s something I’ve always wante but never knew how to do!! Thanks you!

  39. Tiffany says

    What a great tutorial (the best out there)…..thankyou! For everyone out there struggling with cutting out ALL the letters, I’m finding my cricut works awesome!
    Definetely a time saver :) If you don’t have one, maybe you could borrow one…or sometimes some of the scrapbooking stores will let you use theirs for a very small price. (worth it considering the time invested).
    Anyway, thanks again!!!!!

  40. says

    Just wanted to say that I absolutely love your blog. Your art and DIY’s are inspiring my creative mojo. I used to have an art space in my old house and miss it! You’ve now inspired me to make the time and room to get going again. I am glad I stumbled upon your blog today! Stephanie

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