as a collage artist and illustrator in general, if i can’t make a particular image, or find anything in my own stockpile, there are a few great sites where i go to find images that are in the public domain and/or are free to access and use.
i thought it’d be useful to list some of my favourite sites to find images. i tend to focus on vintage imagery because it’s what i’m drawn to the most, but also partly because it’s much more likely to be in the public domain or free for commercial use.
obviously, these are 5 of MANY so if you know of any other great quality sources for public domain/free for commercial use images let me know in the comments, and i’ll update this post at a later point.
so here we go, in no particular order:
thegraphicsfairy.com – this site is fantastic for vintage graphics, particularly those are painted or illustrated. a lot of the images are of a good size too, and – as far as i’ve seen – are great quality.
morguefile – i found this site years ago, used it a bit but kind of forgot about it. you need to click on each image to find it’s individual license which can be quite time consuming, but worth it if you’re ready to do a bit of digging.
vintageprintable.com – this site has lots of really interesting imagery, vintage of course. some of the images can be quite small though and not very good for, well, printing. but still good at a small size and fine for web graphics and similar.
pixabay – this site is a bit more of a recent discovery, but there are some fantastic images on there if you have a good look. each image page will tell you the necessary license.
collage images flickr group – as you may well know, flickr is an amazing resource for vintage imagery, public domain images and so, so much more. image sizes and quality vary wildly, but i have found some absolutely fantastic images via this group.
some images are only big enough for web use, some are fine to be printed on a5 or a4 paper. it all depends what you want to use them for, and you may have to do a good bit of searching. there are endless uses for what you can use these images for, but here’s a few examples: collage, gift tags, labels, invites, scrapbooking, posters ..all you need is your imagination really!
with certain images there is no real guarantee that there is some ownership somewhere, you do need to be aware of this and use images at your own risk. if you’re unsure, err on the side of caution. some things are clearly marked that they’re free for commercial use (anything you make money from) and some are only for personal or web use; for example to make party invitations, a bit of decor for your room or graphics for a blog post. some images are free to use but need to be attributed, so please read the terms on each image/site first!