‘Normal is Boring’ Custom Mat Board

Custom phrase mat board—so cute! There are so many techniques to love in the world of design, but one of my favorites has always been when you make a phrase where the letters are made up of a photo. Usually you have to have some knowledge of Photoshop in order to make that magic happen, but today we’re teaming up with Canon USA to show you how to do it yourself with no crazy design skills required! Ready?

Custom phrase mat board—so cute! Supplies:
-Canon PIXMA PRO-100 printer
photo paper
-X-Acto knife
-white cardstock
-photo frame
-rubber cement

First you’ll want to choose a photo to use as your backgroud for your phrase. You will probably want to choose something that looks more like a texture (like a grouping of items or a close-up of a textural object) than a photo of people. I chose some colorful art supplies spread out on a floor, but the texture of plants, flowers, or foods would also work really well. 

Once you’ve chosen your photo, use your printer to print it out at a size that is slightly bigger than the phrase will appear. Rich color is pretty crucial for your photo here so it’s clear what your phrase is. Plus we needed a bigger photo print. For those reasons, we used the Canon PIXMA PRO-100 printer and their 13″ x 19″ Photo Paper Pro Luster.

Custom phrase mat board—so cute!Create your chosen phrase in a Word document (or some other program where you can type a phrase), and print your phrase the final size that you’ll want. I used the font Function Pro in extra bold for a thick type. Once your phrase is printed, place your cardstock over the phrase, and hold them up to a window so you can trace your phrase onto the cardstock. You can also use thicker mat board for this project, but it can be tricky to cut paper that thick when you’re doing a lot of curvy lines, so I chose a thinner cardstock that will achieve the same look when framed.

Custom phrase mat board—so cute!Use your X-Acto knife (and a metal ruler if you have one) to cut out each of your letters. Make sure to cut out and keep the middles of letters (like the middle of an “O” or an “A”) to glue onto your photo later. 

Custom phrase mat board—so cute! Custom phrase mat board—so cute! Trim your photo and cardstock to the size of your frame, and use some rubber cement to glue your cardstock onto your photo. Glue the middle of your letters onto the appropriate spot, and let the glue dry. Once dry, place your photo and mat into your frame, and hang your new art.

Custom phrase mat board—so cute! Custom phrase mat board—so cute! Pretty easy, right? Of course you can do whatever phrase you like, and you can customize the photo you choose to go along with it (like a food-related phrase and food photo for a kitchen). We definitely love the idea of thinking outside the box around here, so this is a perfect phrase for us. What phrase would you choose? Music lyric? Movie quote? xo. Laura

Credits // Author: Laura Gummerman. Photography: Laura Gummerman & Sarah Rhodes. Photos edited with Stella from The Signature Collection. track

  • Hello!
    Congratulations on your work. Makes a long time since I read such interesting articles. His writings are very informative, clear and objective. Since I met your blog, I have been in search of news nearly every week that has been key for me. Thanks for sharing and hope to remain so. Wish you have a lot of luck, success and God bless you.

  • Great idea, pretty and easy to do, love it!

  • Super fun project you have here! Love the quote, I may try to do something similar to this in the future!

  • This is such a cute idea. You can get the same results using photoshop too. It’s less crafty but could save a lot of time. I think I might try this for my new house!

  • LOVE this project! Already whipped up a version of it for my office/craft room featuring my 2014 One Word. http://instagram.com/p/o9JLkFSWGS/ Thanks for sharing!

  • I’ve been looking for something like this! Thanks for the inspiration 🙂


  • I can’t tell you how much I love seeing all the DIY projects on your blog. Thank you! My quote would be: “Measure Twice, Cut Once”!

  • Hi Rebecca!
    I’m not sure how thick a card stock would be too thick for the printer, but you can also just use a thicker white paper that’s not too transparent and I’m sure that would do the same job. Just cut out the letters after you print them onto your paper and you should be good!

    Laura 🙂

  • I like this a lot

    side question, what brand of espresso machine is that???

  • Perfect! I’ve been looking for the proper format to use a phrase I saw:
    “I Drink Coffee for Your Protection”

  • I love how someone completely unartistic and creatively challenged can bust this one out in no time. You guys truly rock at your job!
    Shan from http://www.strippedchic.com

  • This is such a cute idea, I love it! I may have to give it a go at some point… ;3

  • I’m loving this DIY

    Janine Maral from http://www.janinemaral.com/

  • such a great idea! especially for the photoshop illiterate like me!

    love, arielle
    a simple elegance

  • Great idea.
    Looks very nice!

    Much Love, M

  • Hi Autumn! Send us an email at: sponsorships AT redvelvetart DOT com Thanks! – Jacki

  • This is such a cool idea for a simple project. I would love to do this for my kitchen with food-related pictures and words.


  • such a great idea! one could have so much fun with this — ooh the possibilities!

  • So cute! Definitely will be trying this out soon. LOVE this idea 🙂

  • Hi Laura,
    would it be possible to print the words directly onto the white cardstock before cutting them out? Would the weight of paper go through the printer? I’m not the best at tracing!

  • This is a great effect, the quite is fab too!

  • Haaa. I like it. Looks really perfect and original. Great DIY and perfect creativity. Have a nice day.

  • Great idea, looks so stylish. I’ll make something like this for bedroom.

    Cleaners Kingston

  • This looks really cool! I was just looking for a birthday gift to make and I think I found it! xo

  • I agree. Normal is boring and this project is anything but! Super-fun project 🙂

    Love and Luck,

    Laurali Star


  • Oh my goodness, this is such an awesome idea! I can’t wait to try this out for my room. The possibilities for this project are endless.

  • This is awesome! I am in need of some new artwork and I’ll have to think og a saying to write 🙂

  • That is awesome! It’s such a wonderful way to create art!

  • Hi autumn kimball here. I am the creative director and head fashion designer of shabby apple. I have been making over shabby apple and was wondering if you would like to do a review or mixology of some of our summer styles? I am kimballcreative on insta and you can email me at kimballworks@gmail. Com look forward to hearing from you.

  • This is so great! Love the fun background image!


  • Man, you guys always think of simple projects that look amazing but nobody ever thinks of. Or I don’t, at least. This rocks. And the message is the best. 😉


  • Love this! You guys always do such awesome DIYs. So cool. Can’t wait to make one!

  • Words to live by! Also, I’m loving the black wall. 🙂

    ♥ Naomi Starry Eyes + Coffee Cups

  • Reminds me of my time at Hobby Lobby, this was quite the popular idea for framing back in 08-11. Memmoorriees!

  • This is a fab craft project with such a contemporary simple aesthetic, Will most definitely be making a few of these! Such a stylish alternative to the usual, sometimes a tad tacky, mantra canvases you can buy. The contrast of the black wall, white frame and letter stencil, against the colourful under sheet works so well 🙂

  • oh my god, I love the idea ! I would change the typo and can think of great mantra 🙂 thanks !

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