Zero Dollar DIY: Let’s Make DIY Wall Art from a Cereal Box

By Brittni • Updated on 11/08/2023

DIY wall art that doesn’t cost ANY money at all to make? YES!

Red and blue artwork stacked on top of other DIY art on a table with art supplies

Today, I’m launching a new series called Zero Dollar DIY and this is the very first project in that series. It’s a DIY wall art idea that involves cereal boxes and one other material (I found in one of my son’s craft baskets).

The idea behind this series is to make something cool / cute / useful without spending ANY money at all. Nothing.

It’s mostly to prove to myself that I can make things without spending money on something new.

And the rules are: I can only use things that I find laying around my house (no cheating) and ideally those items are things that you’ll have in your home as well.

Like, cereal boxes for example. We all have something like that in the pantry, right?

Because of the materials I’m using for this project, the art pieces will be on the smaller side.

But you could easily use some other material to make them larger if you like. And with some of the smaller scrap pieces, I was able to create some really tiny squares that I turned into a patchwork at the end as well.

So there is a lot that can be done with such a simple material.

P.S. My four year old even made a handful on his own that turned out pretty cool. So ANYONE can make these. Click through to see all the art pieces I made from just a handful of boxes I plucked from our recycling bin.

Tempera paint sticks in various colors with a dramatic shadow on white table

DIY Art Materials

  • cereal boxes / cracker boxes you already have
  • scissors
  • something to color or paint with (I used kids paint sticks)
  • (optional for hanging) blue painters tape
  • (optional) glue / glue stick – only if you’re creating a collage

How to Make Zero Dollar DIY Wall Art

1. Grab your cardboard.

I like to use really thin cardboard, like cereal boxes, because they’re a decent size for artwork, sturdy, and smooth.

They’re also great for layering with other pieces if you decide to do more of a collage.

Other thin cardboards that would work just as well: cracker boxes and other snack boxes or even some frozen food boxes (we have a frozen waffle box that we used, along with some applesauce pouch boxes).

Just use whatever you have. You could even use large packing boxes, like what you’ll get in the mail from Amazon and other deliveries. But that type of (thicker) cardboard often has visible ridges, which I don’t love.

2. Next, cut the cardboard down into flat sheets.

Cut the cardboard down to whatever size you want your artwork to be.

I kept some full size and cut others down to be much smaller, so I could collage them all together.

I usually don’t use the sides of the box bc they’re often too small. So I just cut up the front and back and recycle the rest.

3. Next, grab something to color / paint with.

Use whatever craft supplies you have on hand to create some simple abstract shapes.

You can search ‘abstract shapes’ on Pinterest or Google to get ideas. Or even better, search ‘aerial landscapes’ and find inspo through the unique shapes found in nature.

Sounds cheesy, and it is, but you can pull out some really interesting shapes from looking at aerial landscape photos.

You can also get some cool ‘abstract’ shapes by drawing letters in a more stylized way.

For example, I made some ‘T’ shapes that kind of look like mushrooms and there are some upside-down ‘M’ and ‘N’ shapes too.

Back to the coloring / painting materials… I used tempera paint sticks from my son’s craft cubby for all of this art pieces and I love how you can build them up with a few layers.

I stuck with just a handful of colors, so that all of the pieces would feel cohesive. But again, since this is zero dollar DIY, use whatever you have. This could be markers, crayons, some leftover wall paint you had from a room makeover project, etc.

4. Finishing your artwork and/or hang on the wall.

You can stop here and tape the pieces up on you wall straight away.

I like to use blue painters tape and roll the tape into loops on the back so you can’t see how it’s attached and it doesn’t damage the walls.

Or opt to collage some of the smaller pieces together to make one bigger piece. Or even add a frame, which you can make yourself, reuse one you already have, or buy something new.

But since this is zero dollar DIY, I left everything frameless, at least for now. I do have scrap wood in the garage that would technically fit the bill for keep the cost at zero dollars. Maybe that’s a project for next time.

Colorful earthy artwork lined up, in organic shapes and bold colors

Six pieces of abstract wall art, lined up in a grid.Art supplies and artwork stacked up and sprawled out on a white table

This is a great project to do with kids, after school or on a rainy day too, if you’re a parent / caretaker with a creative kiddo.

I’ve done this one a few times with Hayes and he absolutely loves helping to cut up the cereal boxes and creating little pieces with the paint sticks as well.

I think it would work for nearly any age. And if your child isn’t comfortable with scissors yet, have them stick with the coloring / painting part of the process.

And maybe let them pick out which type of cardboard they want to use from whatever you find in the pantry or recycling bin.

Scissors and cardboard on white table with colorful abstract paintings

Small square paintings in abstract shapes laid out on a white table with art supplies

Colorful abstract artwork featuring organic shapes, laid out on a white table, with overhead view

Like this zero dollar DIY? Here are a few more creative ideas that use materials you can likely find around your house already…

  • How to make unpaper towels with fabric scraps you already have.
  • How to make cute notebooks with just two materials. You could also use some of your leftover artwork from this project as a cover for one of these DIY notebooks, as another idea.
  • A paper mache technique that uses fabric instead of paper, to make really unique bowls. I love this one! Its messy but so fun and the bowls turn out really cool imo.

How to Make DIY Wall Art (Zero Dollar DIY)

Artwork and specifically DIY wall art is something I talk about often in this space bc it's near and dear to me. So, to kick off this new series, Zero Dollar DIY, I'm starting with a DIY art idea that involves cereal boxes and one other material (I found in one of my son's craft baskets).I made some larger pieces and smaller ones too that can be patch-worked together to form something big or small. And my four year old even made a handful on his own that turned out pretty cool. So ANYONE can make these. Click through to see all the art pieces I made from just a handful of boxes I plucked from our recycling bin.
Total Time20 minutes
Keyword: art, diy, diy art, zero dollar diy
Author: Brittni
Cost: $0

Equipment

  • cereal boxes / cracker boxes you already have
  • Scissors
  • something to color or paint with (I used kids paint sticks)
  • (optional for hanging) blue painters tape
  • (optional) glue / glue stick - only if you're creating a collage

Instructions

Grab your cardboard.

  • I like to use really thin cardboard, like cereal boxes, because they're a decent size for artwork, sturdy, and smooth. They're also great for layering with other pieces if you decide to do more of a collage.
  • Other thin cardboards that would work just as well: cracker boxes and other snack boxes or even some frozen food boxes (we have a frozen waffle box that we used, along with some applesauce pouch boxes). Just use whatever you have. You could even use large packing boxes, like what you'll get in the mail from Amazon and other deliveries. But that type of (thicker) cardboard often has visible ridges, which I don't love.

Next, cut the cardboard down into flat sheets.

  • Cut the cardboard down to whatever size you want your artwork to be. I kept some full size and cut others down to be much smaller, so I could collage them all together.
  • I usually don't use the sides of the box bc they're often too small. So I just cut up the front and back and recycle the rest.

Next, grab something to color / paint with.

  • Use whatever craft supplies you have on hand to create some simple abstract shapes. You can search 'abstract shapes' on Pinterest or Google to get ideas. Or even better, search 'aerial landscapes' and find inspo through the unique shapes found in nature. Sounds cheesy, and it is, but you can pull out some really interesting shapes from looking at aerial landscape photos.
  • You can also get some cool 'abstract' shapes by drawing letters in a more stylized way. For example, I made some 'T' shapes that kind of look like mushrooms and there are some upside-down 'M' and 'N' shapes too.
  • Back to the coloring / painting materials... I used tempera paint sticks from my son's craft cubby for all of this art pieces and I love how you can build them up with a few layers. I stuck with just a handful of colors, so that all of the pieces would feel cohesive. But again, since this is zero dollar DIY, use whatever you have. This could be markers, crayons, some leftover wall paint you had from a room makeover project, etc.

Finishing your artwork and/or hang on the wall.

  • You can stop here and tape the pieces up on you wall straight away. I like to use blue painters tape and roll the tape into loops on the back so you can't see how it's attached and it doesn't damage the walls.
  • Or opt to collage some of the smaller pieces together to make one bigger piece. Or even add a frame, which you can make yourself, reuse one you already have, or buy something new. But since this is zero dollar DIY, I left everything frameless, at least for now. I do have scrap wood in the garage that would technically fit the bill for keep the cost at zero dollars. Maybe that's a project for next time.
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2 comments | Click here to reply

Thanks Julie! It is a great thickness for art projects – doesn’t curl up from the weight of paint and feels more substantial.
-Brittni

Brittni

Love that the thickness of the cereal box is just perfect for artworks.. perfect size too!! and free 🙂

Julie
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