Tape Art: Duct Tape Pop Art Portrait

This tape art portrait will help you get your craft mojo on if you’re in a creative slump!

We’re opening this post with a YouTube video because the music is so awesome and it will put you in the mood for some Craft Rehab! It’s not hard to guess whose picture is appearing before your very eyes, but the music should be a dead give-away! It’s only a minute and a half long, so enjoy!

Tape Art Inspiration

When I saw tape art on Pinterest, I had to try my hand at working with duct tape! Duct tape is such an interesting choice because it comes in so many colours and patterns; it’s the perfect medium to create pop art!

I got further inspiration from the website Artyfactory which provides free designs to try out. Below is a selection of the art samples on their site. I adapted one to create my own duct tape pop art portrait.

If you watched the video above, you’ll know that I chose to work with the Elvis! Now I’m going to share with you the techniques I developed so you can try out this fun craft for yourself!

A list of what you’ll need:

  • Backing: I’m upcycling a scrap of thin plastic that’s deal because it allows me to peel up any ‘mistakes’ but you can also use a wooden canvas or any other suitable backing
  • Regular printer paper
  • Colour printer
  • Painters tape
  • Scissors
  • Paper cutter (optional)
  • Waxed paper or glossy backing from labels etc.

This is the design I used from Artyfactory:

Tape Art Template

I enlarged Elvis to create a template on a full sheet of paper – 8 1/2″ x 11″. I printed out two copies: one copy was on plain white paper as-is. The other copy I printed on freezer paper, but I mirror imaged the template and then made sure that my freezer paper would print on the paper side (not glossy) when it went through the printer. I used the freezer paper template for arranging all my cut pieces of duct tape onto (which you’ll see later).

I also printed out a colour copy of the template (thumbnail size as shown below) so I could determine my colours. I only had 9 colours of duct tape and the original artwork used about 15 distinct colours. If you happen to have 15 different colours of duct tape on hand, you’re good to go.

Since I was 6 colours short, to compensate, I made a list of background colours that I did have and was going to use column-by-column; I wrote everything beneath the colour thumbnail so I could refer back to it. I also made a list of coordinating colours for the face for each of the squares. Writing out a list will help keep it all straight! However, if you’re handy with photoshop you can also change it right on your computer so you have a true visual representation. By the way, you really can’t go wrong with the colour selection as long as you mix it up well.

As you can see below, I numbered each square of the coloured copy and transposed the same numbers onto the paper template. You’ll find numbering is helpful when it comes time for assembly just in case some of the pieces get mixed up.

Tape Art Background

To start, I mark out my squares on the plastic backing. My backing is larger than 8 1/2″ x 11″ which isn’t a problem because I plan on cutting it to size when the artwork is complete to neaten all the edges.

Drawing a square grid using a ruler

I actually mis-measured the first time and made all my squares too small! Like Elvis once said, ‘when things go wrong, don’t go with them’. So in this instance, I flip over the plastic and start the background all over again! If you want to avoid my mistake, heed the sage advice to measure twice and cut once! As a DIY blogger though, I have to admit that I welcome my mistakes. The more mistakes I make, the more I learn about how to perfect my craft technique and pass that along to you!

I rolled out a piece of duct tape for the first background colour onto my glossy backing and cut it with scissors. Then I measured my square and cut it to length on a paper cutter.

applying tape to non stick paper

using a pencil and ruler to draw square on duct tape stuck to non stick paper

Check Twice, Apply Once

Once I had all my background colours cut, I referred back to my colour list to double check before placing them onto each square. You could also lightly pencil in your colours on the actual backing first, but be sure to erase them because colours like white will show the pencil marks right through it!

Hand holding a fan of complete duct tape squares for tape art

Because I initially made the squares too small, I ended up having to overlap the duct tape to get a larger sized square. As you can see below, the squares are larger than the width of the duct tape so you’ll end up with a seam. I first added a strip about 3/8″, then I overlapped the full width of the duct tape on top of that to prevent it from lifting:

Construct Tape Art Face

Once the background is fully covered by the duct tape squares, grab the piece of freezer paper previously printed as a mirror image and flip it over so that the glossy side is facing up. You will be able to see the face coming through (the image is now right side up again). You’ll be using the freezer paper to assemble all the cut pieces on before they are transferred to the portrait itself.

Next, I used the paper template as the pattern to cut out the pieces of the face. I cut up one square at a time. Use pieces of painters tape rolled back on itself so you can stick the paper template on top of the duct tape to cut out the pieces. Once each piece of duct tape is cut, stick it to the respective section of the freezer paper pattern so you don’t loose your pieces (don’t remove the backing from the duct tape yet!). The glossy side of the freezer paper allows the painters tape to stick just enough to keep it in place, but not so much that it’s an effort to pull it off again.

The picture below shows the pieces stuck onto the freezer paper with painters tape to keep them all organized by each individual square. If you don’t have freezer paper, just work on top of regular paper.

Applying Face to Background

Once all the face pieces are cut and placed on the freezer paper, work square-by-square to transfer the pieces onto the background. You can see that in action in the video!

Background squared applied for tape art duct tape portrait of Elvis

Start from the left hand side. Use the painters tape as a hinge to hold onto the duct tape as you peel the glossy backing from each piece. The painters tape will help you transfer and position the piece onto the background squares without having to touch the sticky backing. It’s important to use the painters tape in this fashion to avoid the pieces sticking to your fingers; if that happens, the duct tape may get mangled if you try to unstick it and you’ll have to re-cut the piece!

The beauty of having squares makes it very easy to line up the pieces! It probably didn’t take me any more than 20 minutes or so to transfer everything onto the background.

Applying pieces onto foreground for tape art

Once everything was stuck down, I trimmed my backing to size.

Tape art; colourful squares on background from a pop art picture of Elvis

Look for cheap frame options in the clearance section of Home Goods or Home Sense. If there are dings, like this one, you can easily touch up with a permanent black marker like a sharpie.

After framing it in a shadow box, faster than Elvis could leave the building, I was done!

Finished tape art duct tape portrait of Elvis

The King

To this day, Elvis is often imitated, but never duplicated. Elvis may have left the building, but his spirit lives on forever in duct tape art splendour! Don’t forget to pin and share if you enjoyed this post!

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Pinnable image for tape art duct tape portrait

Pinnable image for tape art

We encourage you to visit the Artyfactory site; to get inspiration for your own duct tape art portrait!

If you’re not a regular of Birdz of a Feather, here are a few things you may have missed:

Check out our Home Page category for more upcycle craft ideas!

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35 thoughts on “Tape Art: Duct Tape Pop Art Portrait

  1. SO excited to finally have specifics on how to do this, have been collecting tape colors at the Dollar store for my daughter to try this- very intriguing! Thanks for updating 🙂

    • Great – so happy to hear that! I meant to post this earlier; it totally slipped my mind 🙂 I’d love to see what your daughter does – send me a picture!

  2. You’re always up to something interesting, Sara. This looks like fun. My son went through a duct tape phase when he was around ten. I wish we had know about this then. I think he would have jumped on it.

    Has spring weather made an appearance yet? We’re half-way to May now.

    • Thanks Alys – this one was a lot of fun! Spring isn’t even in the dictionary in Canada this year. We just had a treacherous ice storm here. We were shut ins for 3 days and we had a power outage on Monday. The thermometer will go up a bit this week so hopefully things will melt soon. Remember when I told you it’s safe to plant after the May 24 weekend? We’ll I might have spoken too early 🙂

  3. How did you make the other pop art photo of a man and woman (maybe you and your significant other) in sunglasses? That is so cool.

    • Hi Tammie – thanks! I’ll have a DIY for that one posted eventually too 🙂 If you’re a subscriber, you’ll see it in the e-mail (or on Bloglovin’). You need a regular photo and editing software; I used photoshop.

  4. I have got to try this!!!!! What a brilliant, creative idea Sara. Long live Elvis

  5. This is an amazing portrait made with duck tape. You are so talented!
    Happy Spring,
    Kippi

    • Thanks Kippi; appreciate that :). Happy Spring to you too.

    • They really do have some great options on the site, don’t they?

    • Thanks Maria! Me too; I was thrilled when we were allowed to use one of his songs for the video 🙂

  6. I love how this turned out. My husband brings home colored duct tape from work and I have been waiting for the right project to use it on. This one looks perfect.

    • Wow, now you have to try it! Can’t wait to see what you do!

  7. I love this – I’m a huge Elvis fan. Went to Memphis and the cemetery the weekend he died. Duct tape can do anything.

    • Wow you are a huge fan Rosemary to have joined those crowds!

      I have to agree that duct tape CAN do anything. It held my husbands car together for years lol!

    • Ha, thanks Maria! I’d never aspire to Warhol’s level but yes very pop art-ish 🙂

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