Stock images are a designer’s best friend

March 19, 2009

I know the horrific images that race through the minds of most designers when you utter the words “clip art.” This happened to me the other day when a potential client was discussing a future business card design job for her husband’s business. She asked if I had Print Shop, because there was a particular piece of clip art she had in mind: A lion sharpening his claws on a tree for her husband’s knife sharpening business. I actually pictured the dated cartoon-like drawing in my head and shuttered a little bit. Gladly, I told her I did not have Print Shop, but we would work something out as far as getting her a similar-themed image. All the while I knew I would try to accommodate her vision, while giving her much more solid design choices. Time is money There are many times when your client has a limited budget and can’t afford your original piece of art for their project. This is where good stock illustrations and images come into play. Wouldn’t you rather spend $10 on a stock illustration than spend three to four hours of your precious time making one yourself? Besides, your client can’t afford your hourly rate for your original art on top of the design time. Notice I stated earlier “good stock images,” and, yes, there is a difference. Most things that come free with programs, or that you can find online for free, are sub par in quality and design and are often times way overused. A good stock image will cost you a little more; however, prices have been kept low with all the competition online for stock-image sites. Inspiration Every once in a while I like to browse stock image sites for some design inspiration, and sometimes I may find something that works partially, which I’ll modify it to fit my project. Also, I have taken elements from a handful of images and created a whole logo that never existed before on its own, which I like to call “digital collaging.” This is much easier when dealing with vector graphics, but if you are skilled enough in Adobe Photoshop you can create anything. Designers, let me know what are some of your favorite uses for stock images? Do you like to keep a catalog of ones you’ve used? Remember the next time someone asks you if you have any clip art maybe you can gently correct them by offering some lovely stock images.

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The PsPrint Blog is a resource for graphic designers, freelancers, small business owners and fans of print marketing. You'll find helpful techniques on printing everything there is to print, including business cards, postcards, brochures, stickers, invitations, greeting cards, door hangers, magnets and more. The PsPrint Blog shares creative ways to improve your design and layout skills, and useful tips for marketing your business in any medium. We also like to have a little fun, sharing design inspiration and spotlighting some our favorite customers' printed pieces in our "Hot Off the Press" series.