Ok, all you over 40, t-square, triangle, and non-photographic blue pencil pushers out their, how did the term clip art come about? The name comes from the books of graphic images that once upon a time were actually “clipped” out and placed into layouts. Today, clip art comes on CD’s or can be downloaded from stock photo houses on the web. Clip art can be used as is or as a starting point for creating custom illustrations or logos. But, should designers use clip art at all?

Under the right circumstances, clip art can be a fabulous time saver. It has even been a life savor to many designers in times of the lurking D-E-A-D-L-I-N-E. When used properly clip art can enhance design; used too much, it can indicate a lack of actual design ability. Yes, I have used clip art. Of course not all the time because I have the skills to create what I need usually without it. But clip art is just one of the valuable tools available to designers. Let me explain why.

In an ideal world where you’d have unlimited time and budget you’d be able to call in whatever specialist you wanted like photographers and illustrators. Unfortunately, I don’t live in this ideal world and neither do my clients. I know there is a lot of snobbery about this subject and I will have several photographers and illustrators upset at me just like the copywriters who pulled out the pitch forks on my last post.

I must admit, there’s a lot of poor clip art and stock photography available which is unusable rubbish, over-used and looks just like the stuff the kids down the street use for their babysitting flier. So, it is important to choose carefully and pay attention to styles, themes and color characteristics which can all be customized.

Easy-to-use vector art can easily be downloaded on-line and can be quickly modified into custom art since they are made up of separate layers. It can require some work, but if you edit the clip art (usually in illustrator) you can modify the art to look custom and save time and money in the process! And believe it or not, the clip art has all been created by professionals and often does the job just fine! Clip art is just ONE part of a graphic designers everyday arsenal of tools.