12 Ways to Display Children's Artwork

October 23, 2016




The first time your little one picks up a crayon and makes the tiniest of marks on a piece of paper life changes as you know it. That little crayon marked paper is quickly framed and proudly displayed, whether on the wall or fridge, a symbol of their growth and creativity. A milestone not only in your child's life but yours as well, they are growing up and finding ways to express their inner self and inviting you along for the journey. 

Then they discover paint, pencil crayons, markers, glue, tape, feathers, glitter... Dear God, the glitter!! Life changes again, that sweet piece of paper turns into countless creations and soon enough everywhere you look there is evidence of your child's creativity.

Now, don't get me wrong this is a beautiful and magical thing. Children have an ability to create without inhibition or self doubt, a trait that should be nurtured carefully. They are also very quick and direct during these artistic sessions cranking out 5 or more a day, while as an adult it would take days or weeks to finish just one! Five absolutely beautiful pieces of artwork that give us a glimpse of their souls is something to never take for granted, however 5 times 365 and your little artist has just produced over 1,825 pieces of art PER year.

Let us dwindle that number down to 1 creation a day, even then that means from the age 1 to 11 you are looking at over 3,650 pieces of art and each one holds a meaning and story of their growth and development. I don't know about you but my kid doesn't sit down and create just 1 piece of art per creative session, for them it isn't about the end result but rather the journey and that means testing out as many things on as many surfaces as possible. The safe estimate of 3,650 is a very reserved number over a 10 year span, where on earth are we meant to store it all?! Space is already a very precious commodity in our home and now with a second child that means those numbers are doubled again. 

The image of us wading chest deep in swirls of paintings, papers and art projects as we go about our daily lives just flitted through my mind.

The fridge and walls can only hold so many pieces of art and from what I know, most parents will frame the special pieces, box up as many as possible and toss those with very little meaning to the child, into the garbage. (Don't even bother saying, "Oh the horror!!" unless you have children over the age of 1, judge all  you want but just you wait)

In my own life I want to encourage their creativity and display it proudly but also live our lives in a way that teaches children order and minimalism so that they appreciate what they do have. To often our society is focused on materialism and that "excess" means wealth, when really it means becoming overwhelmed and unable to focus on the meaningful things in life. 

This forced me to find creative ways to display and store Eve's art that not only nurtures her creativity but boosts her confidence by keeping it out and available, without wading knee deep in creative evidence. I thought I would share a few of those ideas and will continue to do so every time I discover a new way! There are so many options available thanks to the internet, small businesses and through recycling used items that the fridge doesn't need to completely disappear behind paper. (I think we are all getting a little tired of picking up flying paper every time we grab the milk.) 

Alright, enough chit chat. Here are 12 different ways to display (and store) your kid's art without boxing it away in the garage. I've included a few links and a quick blurb about each one. In the coming weeks I plan on expanding on each method with DIY tutorials, helpful links and many more suggestions so stay tuned! (This list will hopefully get you started and inspire you)

#1. FRAME IT



 Let us start off with the most obvious and straightforward method of displaying art, framing. Instead of going to the dollar store grabbing the first frame you see and plopping it on a random surface try to go a step further and see your child's art as potential decor for your home. Displaying it in a prominent spot in your home is a great way to boost their artistic confidence, especially when guests come over and ask about it allowing your child to describe and take pride in their work.

The photo above features 6 paintings created by Eve was she was just 3 years old. She created a ton of watercolor paintings using the Eye Dropper Method that are absolutely stunning and these were her favorite pieces. This technique of painting is so simple absolutely anyone can do it! 

You don't need to bust the bank in order to frame, simply head to your local thrift store or even Ikea and pick out frames that suit their artwork and your home the best! You can go with minimalist frames and create a symmetrical look or buy unique secondhand frames and create a collage. Not to mention, the money you are saving on buying decor can simply go towards framing their work.

 That being said, if your kid is anything like mine you will end up with more than just 6 paintings so what on earth will you do with the other hundred paintings? Well, let's find out!


#2. CREATE A PORTFOLIO

Sure you could toss all of the extra paintings into a lovingly marked box where they will sit for years unopened, but why not make a book out of them! This will keep them accessible and prolong their life and vibrancy as opposed to a dusty box that can easily get damaged by water or mold. 

Introducing the portfolio book, not just for the "professional artists" but for all artists big and small.




This is a great project to work on with your kids if they are a bit older. Let them choose which pieces go where and in which order, have them quickly explain each piece and make sure to write the description on the back of each piece (Don't forget to date it!).

 Ideally you would do this right after the piece has been created because who has time to sit and do this for stacks of artwork, plus this way it would still be fresh in your child's mind. It might sound difficult but by taking the time to discuss the art in the moment you are expanding their concept of creativity and purpose, then document it and pop it into a sleeve. No more flying papers or tears from damaged artwork after someone's little brother ripped it into a thousand pieces... no one is looking at you Theodore.


What is so amazing about this is that Eve can pull these off the shelf whenever she likes to view them and the acid free sleeves protect her art from sticky fingers and prolongs the lifetime of each piece. We label the books according to the year and somehow 3 years of art has now been organized neatly, fitting into a 12 x 12 shelf. No more being overwhelmed with guilt that her art is floating through the house, unappreciated and without a home. 

Kids can pick up on our emotions better than we can and I firmly believe Eve could sense me getting frustrated with the stacks of paper anywhere and everywhere. I hated the idea she would feel guilty or ashamed her art was being seen as a mess and deter her from any potential creativity. With the portfolio books she can pull them down and we can go through them talking about the stories behind each one and techniques she used. More often than not it inspires her to go sit at her desk and create something new for the book!


So say goodbye to dusty boxes and flying papers, simply buy a few Portfolio books and store your kid's art like a pro. They take up less room than a box, carefully stores all shapes and sizes of art and keeps it organized to boot. 

But what about those paintings they create on canvases you might ask? Continue onward my dear friends. Upwards and onward. 

#3. THE GALLERY WALL

The Gallery Wall is one of my favorite ways to display art. Let me lower your expectations right off the bat so you don't expect some carefully planned template available for download that will display the canvases in symmetrical ways. If you are looking for that just head over to Pinterest where they exist aplenty. 

This Gallery Wall concept is one of spontaneity and creativity that celebrates the uniqueness of each piece! This is great for people renting or those procrastinating on painting their kid's bedroom walls as the art is more colorful and vibrant than any color we could think of as adults. Gather up all of their 3D art, whether on canvases, shirts, rocks etc., toss those things into shadow boxes or simply hang as is. This can be another fabulous project to include your kid in as they help you "design" the wall. New pieces can be added as they are created and moved around as you see fit which is the perk of not having a carefully planned layout! (I know, I know, I am an OCD person's worst nightmare) 

Alright, so now we have a gallery wall, portfolio books filled with art and some specially framed pieces. What could be left? Well, we are just getting started, thanks to the internet and modern day inventions there is no end to new ways to display your kid's art. Next up, shower curtains. Yes you heard me right, shower curtains...

# 4. TURN ART INTO HOME DECOR



The above photos are all pieces of Eve's original artwork, the first being a rug, then a clock, a duvet cover and lastly a throw pillow. 

Do you find yourself walking the aisles of your local home decor store drawn to the vibrant, colorful pieces but find the price tag a bit much for something that has so little emotional meaning? Have you been wanting to buy new cushions or add pops of color and design to your home with a rug or new bedspread?

 We recently moved, yet again, and that pretty much sums up where I am at. I have been wanting to make this space more "ours" and not just tailored solely to my taste or style. It is difficult to involve the whole family when tastes tend to clash or some members care much more than others, but I found a way to do just that! 

Nowadays with the internet being such a vast wealth of resources you can find numerous companies willing to produce any design you upload into pretty much anything under the sun. All you have to do is Google it up and find one that works for you, my personal go to is usually Society6. (One of the main reasons being is they promote "Sweat-shop Free" environments, watch more on the manufacturing process HERE) At Society6 you can upload any of your (high quality) images and turn them into one of a kind, meaningful, artistic home decor pieces that display your child's artwork proudly. Society6 tends to offer discounts on certain things depending on their special of the week, whether 10% off throw pillow covers or free shipping so hold out until it suits your needs.

Last year I was looking for a new shower curtain, not the dollar store kind I usually buy that busts in a matter of weeks but rather invest in a high quality one. 

Every time I went shopping I would balk at spending over 50$ on a shower curtain. On one hand I knew it would last because it was actually well made but on the other hand, it had little to no meaning to me other than a generic design. (sounds silly I know but hey that's just me)

That's when I realized I could have the best of both worlds and uploaded one of mine and Eve's collaborative pieces via Society6, a painting that holds such meaning for both of us, and voila we had a new shower curtain!

The look on Eve's face when it came in the mail was absolutely priceless and she loves to talk about it with every guest who asks about our wild shower curtain. 

Right now we are in need of some throw pillow covers but I'd like to see if I can use one of Eve's art pieces AND one of Theo's so just waiting on the little guy to be ready.

Can you imagine your kid having their own artwork as a duvet cover as opposed to Paw Patrol sheets? (not that there is anything wrong with that.) They could actually grow up with the same cover and take pride knowing that they designed it!

Outsourcing the manufacturing is my method as I do not make a very talented seamstress. But for those of you gifted in that area, there are companies that will print fabric based on your uploaded designs. This is exciting because you can then in turn COLLABORATE with your kid and take on the sewing aspect making truly one of a kind, collaborative pieces.

Which segues into the next extraordinary way of displaying your child's art, clothing!!

#5 CLOTHING




As previously mentioned, if you are a pretty hand seamstress you can send in your design to different companies that will print it onto fabric and simply take it from there. However, if you are anything like me and find your sewing adventures ending with trips to the ER (okay maybe not THAT bad but you get the point) then maybe this new company is more your style.

The company Picture This, popped up on my Facebook news feed and I adore the idea, I have been a little hesitant to show it to Eve as she will want every article of her clothing made this way but we will get there. I love that the company does not outsource the manufacturing process but keeps it in house and ethically made.

Your child designs their own dress (more options will be available soon) by using the printable template which you just send it in to Picture This for them to manufacture it. 

I definitely foresee some of Eve's dresses, and mine, being designed by her in the near future.

#6 STUFFIES 
AKA Stuffed Toys


In a world focused on money we are losing touch with the idea of ethically and morally made belongings. It is so much easier (and cheaper) to just buy what is on sale but more often than not we aren't asking the right questions prior to our purchase. First, do we REALLY need to buy yet another toy for our kid and more importantly, was this toy made by another child. Are we allowing a fellow mom's child work for nothing just so our kid can have yet another materialistic belonging? How would we feel if that was our child?

What sort of lessons are we teaching them when it comes to consumerism and ethics? Are we, ourselves, living what we are preaching? 


That is why when I was introduced to this concept I was floored. I have heard of many different companies creating stuffies out of children's art, but there is something so special about Piccolo Artista.

Piccolo Artista is run by one woman Wilma, an Italian mom, who handcrafts every single stuffed toy based on your child's unique design. Her mission statement hit me right in my creative soft spot.

"Piccolo Artista aims at transforming such a creative energy into unique puppets to offer kids a magic moment and keep forever a little souvenir of their childhood."

I mean come on, how could I resist. This woman clearly gets the importance of childhood creativity and the magic that arises from their little fingertips as she strives to bring their dreams to reality. 

So before you think about buying yet another toy maybe ask yourself where it was made, by whom and if you can't answer those questions then maybe we need to start rethinking our buying habits. It is time to start supporting those with transparent manufacturing processes that encourage fair trade. 

And can you just imagine the look on your child's face when they see THEIR creation transformed into a tangible stuffed toy?! 

#7 PHOTO BOOKS


While this is similar to the portfolio books the concept and layout is different. Portfolio books, as mentioned above, are great for storing tangible artwork that can be switched around and reorganized, keeping things in order yet available.

Photo books, on the other hand, are a great way to take years of artwork and neatly design an actual book filled with images of all of your child's art. You can add text right into the book, either by hand or during the book editing process, that describe each piece or the stage in which the child was going through. 

For those that are unable to keep every single piece of actual art and looking to declutter, this would be a great method for you. You can downsize without guilt as you ensure your kid's art will live on in the photo book with the added perk of being able to order one for grandma too!

If you haven't already seen the hilarious ad for the company that makes Chatbooks I would give it a watch. I'm definitely going to try them out for my next photo book and also have my eye on Shutterfly's "Mini Masterpieces" book that screams personality. If neither of those options are your style just check out your local photo store or even Groupon to get a deal. 


#8 FRAMED COLLAGE 



This is an idea I have seen floating around the internet for quite some time now with many different takes on it. It is a great way to take some of your child's favorite pieces and combine them into one frame, therefore their work is celebrated without consuming all of your wall space.

When I do get around to trying this out I plan on using the Framed Collage technique to display Eve's artistic progress. For example, the first picture in the collage would be one of her first ever creations and by the time you get to the last art piece it would be her most recent, showing her evolution as an artist fit neatly into one frame.

As she gets older new Framed Collages could be added to the wall with each one displaying a full year's worth of her
favorite pieces!

This lovely lady, Jen from A Thousand Words,  did a great job on creating Framed Collages for her son's rooms, I simply love her take on it especially the added portraits of each boy. Get creative and see what you can come up with! (Feeling stuck? Head over to pinterest where you will find hundreds of takes on this method)




#9 EDIBLE ART


No, I am not going crazy (alright maybe a little bit) but yes, you read that correctly... edible art.

Nowadays, pretty much any bakery under the sun is able to create edible photo, custom cakes which means your kid's next birthday doesn't have to be a generic Disney themed design (unless that is their thing... I am not going to pretend like I too, don't have a slight obsession with mermaids and superheros)

If your child loves to create why not ask them to "design" their own cake. Have them draw whatever they like, scan the image and send it in to your bakery for their very own edible creation. This method might not display their art for very long but it will sure taste yummy and just imagine your child's face when they see their design, what a great way to boost artistic confidence!

Are homemade cakes more your thing? In case you don't have an edible printer just sitting in your closet you can try out this method that Eve and I used for her last birthday cake. Using edible food markers she enjoyed drawing all over her 4th birthday cake using White Fondant as the coloring surface, READ all about the DIY CAKE CANVAS or just watch the video tutorial below.




#10 MULTIPURPOSE ART


Mugs, magnets and stickers O MY! 
But seriously though, why not?


I don't know about your toddlers but mine always seems to know exactly which cup is "their" cup, and the kicker... "their" cup never actually seems to be the same and always happens to be the one magically missing or dirty. What fun, so much fun! (said no parent ever)

What better way to actually designate a cup to them by having it covered in their individual artwork? There are a ton of companies out there that offer these services but I have found the most affordable, without losing quality, has been to go through Staples. They have several different options and colors available and if you want to avoid paying shipping just order and pick up at the nearest store.

 What about stickers and magnets? They make fabulous additions to your kid's birthday loot bags that scream creativity while reflecting your child's personality. Don't go with the dollar store stickers or magnets but order custom ones with your child's art as the theme. They don't even have to end up in a loot bag but in the birthday kid's gift bag instead!

 If you aren't into custom ordering then create DIY magnets by gluing mini printed copies of your child's art to magnet sheets and use those to hold up their latest original art pieces to the fridge.

Honestly, the sky is the limit, I'll be revisiting and expanding on these ideas with another blog post dedicated to the multitude of possibilities!



#11 STATIONARY

Back in the day I remember writing thank you cards for each guest who had attended my birthday parties as a child, hand writing letters to pen pals and coloring over the envelopes sent to family members. I am sure with all of our technology most of these snail mail traditions have long disappeared but why not bring some of them back?! Instead of going out and buying stacks of commercialized, generic Thank You cards why not have some custom made (or print from home) with your child's colorful art front and center? (This way you get to keep the original art but share their creativity) 

Another great option is custom made postcards. You can buy the blank ones at your local art store and have your child decorate them with original art or go the custom order route again in case you want to keep the original art. Then there is gift wrap, calendars, notebook covers for school... the list goes on. I get the feeling more blog posts will be needed to expand on all of the ideas, so stay tuned!


#12 PUZZLES


Puzzles are a fantastic way to keep your child's art around for a long time to come. Whether friends or siblings putting each other's art together by way of puzzle, this is a great way to prolong their unique artwork while encouraging them intellectually. 

You can search around for a good deal for custom made puzzles, personally I find Staples pretty affordable spending only $15 CDN for a 30 piece (or 110 piece) puzzle. (For my American friends it would cost even less due to the exchange rate.)

These make great gifts for grandma's, puzzle enthusiasts or even for the child who created the artwork themselves!

I know you can find tutorials for DIY puzzles, they would make a great collaborative project for older children to partake in. 




And there you have it! 

TWELVE different ways to display, promote and encourage your child's artistic side. 
Each method can be expanded on so use your imagination and make sure to share what you come up with! I've only really touched on each way and plan on diving into each method with more links, suggestions and tutorials so stay tuned. 


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