The artwork used in printables is the foundation for the entire piece. The clipart you choose will dictate the fonts you use, the other color choices and even the purpose of the printable itself. Thankfully, there are plenty of options when it comes to finding art sources for printables.
Cakes! Just some of the thousands of pieces of clipart available on CreativeFabrica for $12 or less a month.
In this piece, I’m going to share some of my favorite art sources – every single one is useful in some way for my business and I hope you will find one or more you like as well. I’ll also give you a quick primer on commercial use; I’m not a lawyer so you should do your own research on that, but you should know that usage rights exist and you need to follow them to create work you can legally sell.
Note: Some of the links below are affiliate links. This means that, at zero cost to you, I will earn an affiliate commission if you click through the link and finalize a purchase.
Sites like the Hungry JPEG offer huge savings on bundles -- fonts and graphics at deep discounts, with commercial terms.
How to Design Printables – If you are not an artist
The good news is, you do not need to be an artist to design printables! It absolutely helps if you are creative, if you have great color sense and if you enjoy doing crafty things, but you don’t have to be a “get out the paintbrush” artist to make printables.
Learning where to find graphics that can be used to make printables is more important than generating your own for now. Usable graphics and fonts need to have a few key elements:
· They must be legal to use in the way you intend (in other words, the license must permit it or they must be out of copyright or in the public domain).
· They must be of high enough resolution (300 dpi is the ideal for printables)
· They should be affordable. You’re going into this endeavor to make money – spending $75 on a single stock image is not going to help, no matter how nice it is!'
Commercial Vs. Personal Use
The biggest thing to know when it comes to clipart, art sets and even fonts and images is the different kinds of use that is permitted. We’re looking for commercial use, so the sites listed below are heavily slanted towards full commercial use, I just don’t have the time or inclination to read a lot of individual licenses! Here is a good explanation of these rights.
Designing Printables: What is Personal Use?
Personal use means you can download the item and use it for personal projects for your own use or usually for gifts. It means you can’t download the item and use it for things you want to sell. Some artists do offer a mixed license that allows you to make up to a certain number of physical items for sale that you have made yourself from the item. If you make one of a kind shirts, journals or art pieces, this might work for you, but in general, personal license is not useful for earning money with printables.
Making Money with Printables - What is Commercial Use?
Commercial license terms are what we want – the more generous the better! My favorites on the list below are the Graphics Fairy and CreativeFabrica, mainly because they offer the best commercial terms. Read the terms of any item you want to buy before you purchase, to make sure you can legally use it.
Make Money with Printables - What is Public Domain?
Public Domain images are over a certain age, usually a century, and no longer covered by copyright. Images by Beatrix Potter, most books from before 1923 and other items fall into this group. You can usually use these freely, but again, check for any terms before using.
The last group is not a license at all, but a full stop, leave it alone! Stay away from licensed characters, as they are generally legal to use, even if someone is selling them in SVG or graphics form. Etsy can and does bump sellers from the platform entirely if they infringe upon copyright, and big brands like Disney, Warner Brothers and Starbucks are quick to track down even small brands that infringe. If the character has a name or a recognizable brand, just leave it, even if others are using it or selling it, you’ll be far less likely to encounter trouble later.
Some characters are in the public domain and can be used legally. Alice in Wonderland is a good example. You can use public domain images and illustrations (and I have, in the printable above. What you can’t do is use DISNEY Alice in Wonderland images – the recognizable characters are still a no-go, even if the actual book is public domain.
Making Money with Printables – What you Need to Know about Graphics
Here’s the key takeaways about graphics –
1. You do not have to be an artist to make printables
2. You can find graphics in many places online.
3. You need to choose graphics that offer commercial rights OR are in the public domain
4. You can use free graphics (usually public domain images), buy graphics individually or in bundles or use a subscription site to get access to a huge selection for a monthly fee, commercial rights included.
5. Consider characters, slogans, insignia and logos of other brands off limits – you won’t get sued and you won’t lose selling rights on sites like Etsy if you leave Disney, Harry Potter and the NFL alone.
Up Next, a list of my favorite and recommended sites for graphics, the places I literally go every day to find artwork for my printables.
Here’s a place to start – the New York Public Library has scanned many pages and made a huge amount of material free to access. Those images, patents, books, pages and more are often in the public domain. Head on over and poke around a bit to get a sense of what is available; the address is https://digitalcollections.nypl.org/ and the reason I suggest starting here is that it is free and the search box allows you to check items that are in the public domain only, so anything you see can be used in your printables.
Happy searching and I’ll have a much bigger list for you up next!