Stock Art and a Little PhotoShop Can Make a Hero
There are so many resources for stock art available on the internet. They serve quality images that can be used by anyone to make their projects look professional and exciting. Stock art is as easy to find and use as cheesy clip art, but the difference is that stock art provides richer and more relatable imagery that enhance the message. Stock art is not low brow. There are many professionals out there who use stock houses as an additional means of revenue for their craft. This means that everyday people like you and I can look like design heroes with a few clicks on a website and a small fee!
A neighbor of mine is a professional photographer whose work has been featured in advertisements and editorials of major publications. She always has a camera and release forms with her. If she sees interesting people in colorful settings when she is out enjoying life, she will ask for permission to photograph. If they agree, she will have them sign a release. Her archives contain millions of photographs. When she has free time she will retouch the more notable images and then release them to stock houses for use by anyone. I have another friend who is a professional illustrator. His work has been featured in advertisements and has also hung on gallery walls. And some of his work is for sale on stock sites.
Every stock site has a search feature that can help you locate an image for any subject you can think of. Sometimes, when the image you have in mind isn’t available, a search through the other images that are offered for the topic may lead to an unexpected solution. When I was creating a flyer for a series of belly dance classes, I could not find specific images of dancers that the dance studio wanted to convey. I kept searching and found an image of a woman waving a veil on top of a grassy hill. Her image gave a sense of freedom of movement. It suited the message of the advertisement. The extra bonus was that the green expanse of the grassy hill could be extended in PhotoShop. I was able to put all of the information for the class in that area. The end result had impact. The image of the woman would draw people in, and the boring details were separated into an area below.
I had a client who produced Middle Eastern Music. The first project we worked on was a CD cover for Armenian music that he had arranged and composed. Mount Aragats is the most recognizable landmark in Armenia. I found a colorful image of the mountainside with spring flowers growing in the greenery below the snow-capped mountain peak. With the eye-dropper tool in PhotoShop I was able to extract the color of the flowers. I used that info to plan the color of the type treatment for the album title, Myrig, which means mother in Armenian. The end result was a pastel colored CD cover that has a cheerful feeling of Mother’s Day in spring.
The next album that my client produced was a collection of Greek songs. He wanted to showcase the instruments that were featured in the music in addition to a sweeping landscape of the blue Aegean Sea. It would have been logistically difficult and extraordinarily expensive to contract a photographer to fly to Greece for a special photoshoot. Instead, I crafted a cover that was a composite of a seascape found at one stock house and a white stone terrace that I found on Dreamstime. For the instruments I used photographs of the client’s piano and his band member’s bouzouki. Once I had the ingredients, it took some skilled work with PhotoShop layers because the instruments had different lighting. They also needed shadows so that they could appear as-if they were actually sitting on the terrace. The final cover gives the impression that an impromptu concert is about to begin in the Greek Isles, when actually all of the work occurred in the United States.
There are many tools that come into play with creativity. I consider stock art to be one of those tools. An art director I know uses stock to plan out his storyboards for TV advertisements. Sometimes I simply search through a stock site for inspiration of colors or layout. At other times, the art I find dictates the entire look of a project. Stock art is there to help designers solve design problems. It is accessible and affordable. Dreamstime is a source I turn to often. They make me look like a hero!
Photo credits: Nick Stubbs.
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