Clip art has been around for decades, and it's still used today because of its accessibility and versatility. The term "clip art" refers to any type of graphics that can be copied onto paper or another surface by using a clipping device. This includes drawings, illustrations, photographs, symbols--even digital images! Nearly every computer software package offers clipart as part of the standard package these days.
Clip art is meant to be an easy way to create graphics quickly - but should you utilize it to create stickers to sell? There are pros and cons to this approach, which we'll discuss below.
If you're looking for a free alternative to paying for expensive clipart packages from commercial sources, there are many places where you can find tons of high-quality free clipart online! A quick Google search will reveal tons of options with no cost - or many low cost options on Etsy.
Ultimately, using clip art stickers is up to you. It will really depend on what type of stickers you want to sell, and how much you want to stand out from the crowd.
Are clipart images copyright free?
Most commercially produced clipart comes without restrictions, allowing the user to use the image for any number of personal, educational and non-profit projects. One common modification is that an individual can't resell the image only - it has to be added to or modified to make it unique.
In contrast, free clip art may have limitations on its uses. It may require the use of attribution, restrict commercial use, or have size, material, or topic restrictions.
What about copyright infringment?
Violating copyright is a big deal. If you're found to have an infringing design on Etsy or other marketplaces, they may take your item down or ban your account. If someone finds their stolen artwork on your own website, however, you may get sued.
Copyright damages are large and in charge, and no small business can afford them. So stay on the right side of the law, and if you have questions - ask the copyright holder. It's better to be safe.
Where can I find free clipart images?
There are a few different sites that you can use for free clip art. Our favorite free sites are The Noun Project and Vecteezy, but there are many more. Both of these websites offer a search bar for you to find what you're looking for, and offer multiple language support as well. Signing up is easy, and you don't need to unless you find something you want. Their related searches features are also exceptionally useful.
The Noun Project
The Noun Project is a completely free icon and clipart site with Creative Commons attribution style licenses. You will need to create an account, set a password, and login to The Noun Project, but once you do, you can enjoy free downloads of all of their content.
Most art requires attribution if it's over 100 pixels in size. You can download as PNG or SVG, depending on your use. The Noun Project is a simple but quality website.
I don't know if The Noun Project does quality checks, but it feels like it. Everything I download from there just works. I mostly use their stuff as very small icons or part of composite pieces.
You can't really create a whole illustration out of items from here. But it's perfect for casual use and I love that so many people contribute without expecting a paycheck at the end of the day.
Vecteezy is a freemium site. Some of their content is free, and some of their illustrations are meant to be paid for. It's a marketplace with lots of different authors. To download, you'll need to create a free account, set a password, and login just like on The Noun Project.
Despite them having items available for purchase, I've never purchased anything from Vecteezy. I'm sure the process is easy. I don't feel like they have good quality checks on their items, so some things feel messy and hard to modify. It really just depends on what you're using them for.
Here, too, you can download as PNG, SVG, or often AI/EPS/PSD as well. Having an account or making a purchase ensures that your downloaded clipart gets saved to a login for easy access later.
Why you should NOT use clipart for your stickers
Clipart is great because it's easy and fun, but here are a few things to consider before you begin to unlock pages of clipart or buy downloadable images off of Etsy.
- It restricts your creativity. Even if you can't draw, relying on someone else's drawing skills exclusively is going to prevent you from realizing your vision.
- It's hard to stand out. Using clip art means that your artwork is going to run the risk of appearing visually similar to other artworks out there. Everyone has access to the free stuff. You may miss out on sales if you can't stand out.
- Copyright can be murky on free OR paid stuff. All of the clipart websites remind you that you are downloading at your own risk. They don't guarantee that the art isn't just stolen from somewhere else. So do some research before you start using something for commercial use, because the artwork may be stolen.
Clipart is a great way to get started if you've got the inspiration but not the art skills. But, remember to practice your basic art stills, too. Because that experience will serve you well as you build your own shops and projects.
Where can I pay for clipart images?
If you want to pay for clipart, there are plenty of options. The most popular marketplaces are Adobe, iStock, and Envato Marketplace, but there are many many others as well. If you're unsure, just do related searches and see if they're legit. There will usually be reviews of these websites. You can also download clipart from Etsy, but be aware that there are many Etsy sellers who don't understand reselling and may be selling you stolen artwork.
Many marketplaces operate on credits, so be sure you understand what your registration entails. You may be subscribing to something when you really just want one item. Read the newsletter and any information that you receive in email so that you know exactly what you've signed up for.
If you're suspicious of something, but really want that particular art piece, sign up with a credit card. Most credit cards have protection against fraudulent marketplaces, and they'll defend your rights if you've been scammed. But scams in the free clipart space are rare and most often deal with stolen artwork, not stolen money.
Is there anything else I should know about clipart?
You've got the basics at this point - congrats! Let us know in the comments what you think about clipart and whether you plan to use it in your own stickers.