Using Images in Artwork

Images are a big part of our lives today. Be it in social media, or a simple blog like his, we need to use good quality images to make an impact or even be noticed.

With social media being the buzzword, the sheer volume of quality artwork one has to develop makes it close to impossible to create everything from scratch. And that’s why sites like Shutterstock, istockphoto, Getty are making big bucks by offering ‘royalty-free’ images.

They offer quality images for nearly everything you could need. This means you save thousands of rupees from needing to create photoshoots. It saves your time (thereby money) by having to create vectors for infographics or other illustrations fro scratch.

The issue, however, lies in our disregard for copyright and intellectual property rights.

If you are fairly savvy with the internet, you can download most images that you like. A Google search for any term will net you thousands and thousands of images. There are several people who still prefer to use these ‘free’ images.

Strangely, these are designers. They should probably know the value of their time and effort put into a particular piece of artwork. Yet, when the client is breathing down your neck, it could be simple to choose an image off the net and modify it.

IP rights have changed in India, and a particular photographer or designer can drag one to court over copyright issues.


One freelance designer pointed out the challenge they face in terms of cost.

A basic Shutterstock account costs $199 per month for 300 images (on a monthly plan. On a yearly plan,it is $169). That’s approximately INR 12,000 per month for images per user.

iStock is perhaps is a little cheaper. They work on a ‘credit’ model. If you choose the ‘duration’ model, a set of 10 images costs you about 2 grand, 25 images for INR 3,210, or a set of 250 images costs you close to INR 10,000. Then, you can choose credits, which start from $33 (and gives you 3 regular images).

The designer in question serviced about 5 accounts at a time, and needed only about 150 images. And then there were months, when he did websites and apps and the requirement shot up.

The problem lies with economic flexibility, he said. He can afford to spend about INR 10,000 each month on a subscription. But this means he needs to have a minimum of 5 clients at any given point. With anything less, he’ll never be able to justify the expense of having a paid account.

This means a lot of the smaller designers with clients who don’t have budgets end up resorting to free image sites like or or worse, images of a Google search.

What site do you prefer as a designer and why? Would you want more customizations in costs on royalty-free sites?




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