Why and how to use Stock Vector Graphics
Designing everything from scratch, obtaining just the right illustration is the dream of any designer. But it doesn’t always work out. It’s either because of time, budget restrictions or a bad case of creative block. There are times when you have to admit that maybe the requirements of the projects exceed your skills. There’s no shame in that. It’s better to admit the limitations, so that you can start acquiring new skills.
When you are met with one or all of the above situations, the consensus is to choose the solution that covers most of them: stock vector graphics. There may be a stigma attached to them, but let’s be honest. We’ve all resorted to them at one point. They exist because there’s been a need for them and because they are useful. Some may use it for bad, some for good. And when they’re used for the right reasons they are the best. Let me tell you why:
Stock graphics just like stock photography can be purchased in bulk, most commonly advertised as bundles. The market abounds with sites that offer good deals, sometimes up to 90% off. If you work in the field, you know there’s always the need for new graphics. It’s for promotions, holidays, contests or other types of announcements. Buying bundles saves you a lot of money each time. And the themes and styles are endless, to fit any taste.
Speaking of, need I say how wide the pool of styles, trends, themes and categories is? Name anything and you will find hundreds, if not thousands of varieties on the subject. The competition’s growing and growing each year. Thus, designers have been specializing more and more. Whether you are a typographer, t-shirt designer or web developer, there’s a well-developed niche for you. Patterns, fonts, characters, infographics, icons – there’s always something new and better available on the market, not matter the scope of the project.
When you are in need of certain illustrations, you are able to use it for your project immediately after purchase. Stock illustrations also save you time, not just money. The only time you have to spend is when you’re browsing for the right site. But if you are even mildly acquainted with the industry, Google will bring you the strongest players to the front row, in just a few clicks.
As I mentioned before, the competition has become very high in graphic design and for illustrators, in particular. That’s especially true because sites selling the artwork have become stricter and stricter about the quality they ask, in the name of their customers. When you buy stock vector illustrations you know there were some standards met by the designers. There are also specifications for digital resources and previews before purchasing, given that no refunds are possible. Therefore, you always know if the graphics are up to your needs and expectations.
The worst part about anything pre-made or pre-designed is that it leaves little room for customization. But that seems to change as well. Many illustrators will sell their artwork with the possibility to alter it in some ways. You can change the colors, play around with the elements if they are layer-separated or even alter the text fonts to better suit your identity. There are graphic bundles full of vector elements that can combine together in hundreds of ways, resulting in many more designs to print on countless products like t-shirts, accessories, textiles or stationery.
Now, these are the greatest advantages to keeping stock graphic illustrations on hand. But we are in the digital era, where it is very easy to infringe upon copyright laws and rights. Therefore, how you use stock vector graphics is highly important in this job:
- If you are not sure what the restrictions are, get in touch with the owners of the sites or the authors of the artwork. You’re never too careful about copyright laws.
- When you are at the selling end of the transaction, make sure your designs don’t contain copyrighted content. Getting in touch with possible owners of affected parties is highly advisable in this case as well. You don’t want to know the wrath of one such lawyer. Ever.
- Take the ready-made graphics as a starting point for a new design altogether. Buying stock vectors is not lazy, it’s sometimes necessary. They can buy you some time to work around them, resulting in something completely original.
- Check the formats of the graphics, the technical specs so that they are in accordance with your knowledge of the software it requires. For example, if you are a printing company, make sure your equipment is compatible with the graphics; if its software able to correctly import the graphics.
After the all said and done, stock vector illustrations are a godsend for when you are tight for time and money. But they’re also a great opportunity to get inspiration and challenge yourself to create new, original content for future projects.