One of the things we love most about the world wide web is the wide world of free stuff available. From images to information to insights, the internet is rich with treasures that don’t cost a penny. Take clip art (a.k.a., graphics, icons, illustrations, vectors), for example. There are lots of sites where you can search for a piece of clip art, download it for free, and use it in one of your designs. And we’re here to tell you about a few of our faves. Keep in mind, each site will have its own rules about usage and attribution, so be sure to check them out.
If you’re a PicMonkey subscriber, you’ll have loads of fabulous graphics and icons at your fingertips at all times, and you’ll never have to think twice about how or where you use them. PicMonkey offers a curated collection of more than 6,000 graphics, and we’re constantly adding more. You’ll find everything from circles to stars, arrows to flowers, and many more on-trend, professionally designed creations, so be sure to check them out!
We’re big fans of Pixabay because the site is both attractive and easy to use. Images are divided up into categories (Photos, Illustrations, Vectors, and Videos), but you can also explore the most popular images. Searching is a snap, which is good because there are more than 230,000 illustrations, 90,000 vectors, and 1 million photos. Clicking on an image will bring you to a nicely formatted page where you can view it, see if there are any licensing restrictions, and download it.
Freepik also has a great-looking, easy to navigate site, but you’ll need to pay attention to which of its resources are free and which are only available to premium subscribers. When using the search bar, just tick the Free box and define which collections to look in (Vectors, Photos, Psd, Icons). You’ll be able to search all of these categories at once, as well, which is a nice feature. Most of the free images will need attribution, so be sure to check out Freepik’s requirements before downloading your graphic.
Flaticon is part of the Freepik Company, so it has a similar layout and user experience to Freepik. Flaticon focuses on icons, and it has a really nice selection to choose from. Some are only available to premium customers, but there’s plenty of free stuff, too, in all sorts of styles. Flaticon has a new feature that allows you to group your favorite icons into a collection. And like Freepik, this site does require you to give credit to the author of your icon.
Smashing Magazine Freebies
Smashing Magazine Freebies has a different kind of setup than your usual free clip art site. The images are contained in articles, which describe the icons or graphics to be found and offer a preview of what you’ll get with the download. This requires a little more digging, but the free stuff is beautifully designed and worth the effort. You’ll be required to include attribution for the graphics you use.
Vecteezy is a good-looking site with tons of free graphics as well as an exclusive selection for Pro users. There’s a good search engine to help you find what you’re looking for, or you can browse by category, such as Icons, Plants, Sports, and Business. Using the search engine is a good idea if you want to get only results that are free. And you will be required to give attribution.
If you’re going for a more retro vibe, then you have to check out Retro Vectors. This site divides up its images into categories like Victorian, ‘40s ‘50s ‘60s, and 70s & 80s, so you can pinpoint the era that you’re most interested in. You’ll find some super cool stuff, from Retro Cycling Badges to Gramophones to 80’s Space Technology. There’s no attribution requirements, but the site asks for some publicity on your website or social platform if you’re so inclined.
Stockio’s stock seems to be a little smaller than some of the other free vector and icon sites, but what it does have are some nice-looking graphics that you’d be proud to put in your designs. Searching is easy, and sometimes you’ll be given “Similar Vectors” to peruse. And like most of the other sites, you’ll be asked to provide attribution.
Iconfinder has a limited selection of free icons, but it’s definitely worth a look at its offerings. If you use the search engine to find what you’re looking for, make sure you click Free so you don’t get premium results. The handy search engine also lets you specify what kind of icon you want (e.g., photorealistic, glyph, flat, etc.) and the license type you’re interested in.
Iconmonstr is a super cool site run by one senior designer based in Germany, so the selection here is significantly smaller than those of the bigger sites. The style of these icons is very clean and modern, and everything is displayed in black and white. But if this is your jam, you’ll have a blast perusing and using these little gems.
123FreeVectors is a little less—shall we say—classy than the other sites on this list. The ads are more front and center, the imagery is a bit more pedestrian, and the overall vibe of the site is more rudimentary. But for a certain kind of vector or graphic, this could be exactly what you’re looking for.