When I first started dabbling I’m digital collage and art journal spreads I had no idea where to source my images and how copyright could affect the work. I would use any images I found on Google Search or Pinterest that happened to be visually appealing to me and not consider the responsibility for using “found images”.
In collage work copyright can be a bit of a murky thing since we are taking the work of others and then cutting or manipulating it into the piece we’re creating. I am certainly not an expert on the subject and I’m not focusing on this aspect of collage and journal art in today’s post, but for more information on how (UK) copyright laws work with collage art then I would recommend reading this factsheet written by The Design and Artists Copyright Society.
Pexels offers a huge library of free stock images that you can use in both personal and commercial work. A lot of the images are very modern and feature amazing colours and textures. They also have a lot of gorgeous photos of plants and other things like hands, which are a personal favourite of mine. I like to use these images to either add texture to a piece by incorporating them into the composition as a shape, or I will cut out an object within a photo to use. All the images I have use so far have been amazing quality which is great for creating more great quality work.
You can read about how their license works here: Pexels License.
The Graphics Fairy collects a lot of beautiful vintage images and the majority of them come from before 1923 so they are mostly Public Domain images. There is a huge catalog of illustrations of all different kinds available to download and use, though my favourites have to be the botanical illustrations and the illustrations of insects and birds. I believe the images are scans from books and other paper goods so although a lot of them are great quality, some can be a bit a small pixel-wise so this is something to consider when utilising the images. I particularly like to use the botanical illustrations as part of the composition for my collages and art journal spreads.
The Old Design Shop is similar to The Graphics Fairy but they have a different selection of vintage images. This is more of a recent find but so far I am in love with all the beautiful botanical illustrations that are available and there is also a really lovely collection of vintage ephemera to use. Again, I really like using the botanical imagery within my collages, but I also really like to download the vintage book pages too. So far I have found plain end pages, old french letters, and pages from music books which work really well within a digital art journal spread and can look lovely as a texture in a collage.
So those are my current favourites for sourcing images to use within my work, I hope you find them useful too and if you have any more suggestions on where to find images then please let me know below in the comments!