As print producers tighten their budget belts and pay closer attention to the bottom line, many are finding that a valid way to control creative costs is to turn to stock images and illustrations in lieu of contracting original art. But while stock art can be a quick and inexpensive way to liven up your editorial or marketing pieces, print producers should be aware of how these images can—and cannot—be used.
According to the TrendWatch publication, Design & Production 2000 Atlas, the graphic arts community consumes more than six million stock images annually. Stock art is thriving and serving its purpose among publishing and creative professionals. In all, the market comprises more than 100 million rights-protected/ rights-managed images and nearly 200,000 royalty-free images.
Watching the clock
Though budget concerns are still a good reason to rely on stock images, time and quality remain important goals and challenges. These days, notes Jeff Russ, senior art director at ST Publications, "You just don't have time to do [a photo shoot]. People expect you to turn and burn. Everyone is so busy and everything is so fast-paced, it's good that stock art has filled that niche."
To help compress the time it takes to find just the right image for your next print project, many stock art suppliers provide search capabilities on their Web sites. Random Eye Technologies takes searching one step further; its image grabber software helps creative directors search for images from multiple suppliers. "The key benefit," explains Ken Davies, president of Random Eye, "is that instead of visiting dozens of separate, individual sites, users can visit image grabber, type in a keyword and search 30 to 40 sites simultaneously."
The royalty-free option
In recent years, royalty-free stock art has gained popularity, primarily because it's affordable and easy to purchase. Images can range between $20 and $250, depending on intended use (higher-resolution downloads are more expensive than their low-res counterparts tend to be).