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Everyone Loves a Resource, Better Yet a Free-Source

by | Jan 17, 2012

Whether you’re a freelancer still relishing that first box of business cards sporting your name, an in-house designer with a limited budget or a small business owner taking a DIY approach to cut the ad spending, everyone needs resources for quality fonts, images and design inspiration. And what’s better than resources… free sources.

After scouring my email newsletters and RSS feeds recently for some quick and easy — and better yet, cheap — solutions to solve a recent design dilemma, I discovered a few fun sites that I want to share. For the sake of good karma, and a possible bone the next time I need one, I shall lay them before you.

This site made my day. I was working on a design for a client and needed to find a more customized look for their social media icons. I would have loved to use the same clever bottle cap images shown on their website. But their developer was unavailable and I hadn’t the time to design them from scratch. In a twist of fate or luck or answered prayer I discovered Would you believe I found the exact icons I needed? True story.

Perks:  Over 300,000 icons on the site. Enter a search term and your off. Easily download in multiple formats.
Pains:  Mostly web-resolution icons, not always great for print. But if the finished size is small it should work.
Pocketbook:  FREE, gotta love that.

I may have mentioned this site before but it bears repeating. Dafont has hundreds of decent typefaces that are free to download. You’re not going to find Adobe, Linotype and ITC living at this address. Those are type foundries. They make their living designing the highest quality fonts for a multitude of professional uses. And they’re fabulous. But, if you’re looking for some funky grunge font for a t-shirt design, or quirky dingbats for a company holiday party invite, this is a great place to start.

Perks:  Creative, wild and unusual designs live here. Sometimes you just need some inspiration. If they don’t have what you’re looking for the website syncs with and to search the foundary databases.
Pains:  Scrolling through pages can get tedious, and the search function is limited.
Pocketbook:  FREE, but read the fine print as some are intended for personal use only, not commercial.

Every designer has at some point, searched for royalty free images. They used to cost hundreds of dollars and come with strict stipulations on when, where and for how long they can be used. And if the project warrants it, professional photographic stock or custom work is a great option. But most of us are digging through the coin jar when the boss asks for a nice image for the company newsletter…or make that two photos and two vector graphics that can also be used to promote the winter carnival on event posters and the Facebook page. Enter low-cost stock image sites.

I’ve long been a lover of, and continue to recommend that resource. But this is my latest playground. And like a new cocktail I’m anxious to share the recipe with my friends and see what you can think.

Perks: Royalty vectors and images from hundreds of sources means a lot of variety. Like shopping in a new store, the styles are different and it’s fun to look around. The finished product is high-resolution, professional art.
Pains: It’s member based, so I’ve only been window shopping thus far. But it appears to be free membership.
Cost: Ok it’s not free, but priced in increments from $1 to $20 I think even Scrooge would call this a bargain.


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About the Author

Brandy Wheeler

Brandy Wheeler is the Creative Director and right-brained partner at Visitors Media. She’s a pysanky-making figure skater with a knack for finding Petoskey stones at the beach. Armed with an Albion College degree in visual art and 25 years of experience in graphic design and marketing she loves to share her expertise in writing. You can also find her on-camera as the founder and voice of the Traverse Traveler brand.

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