finding commercial use clipart | Teaching in the Tongass

Monday, August 24, 2015

finding commercial use clipart

I often see new Teachers Pay Teachers sellers wondering how to get some great commercial use clipart. The great thing is, you need to look no further than TpT! The clipart sellers on TpT often have hassle-free Terms of Use and don't often have a commercial use limit (some sellers on Etsy limit use to a certain amount of resources sold--so be sure to check first!).  And if you're lucky, you find teacher clipartists (clipartists that have been or still are classroom teachers) that know what you're looking for and create things with your needs in mind! 

First, you'll need to think of the various key words that the clipart you are searching for might be named. For instance, if you're looking for clipart of "planets," you might want to search for "space" or "outerspace" clipart. Typing in "clipart" usually helps with searching as well.

Now, I guarantee that all 1,538 of those aren't clipart. So, you'll need to use the "Top Resource Types" feature to narrow it down a bit. Click on "Clip Art."
Now that you've changed the resource type, you should have fewer "hits." We went from over 1500 to about 300 by doing that. And even these 293 products will have some non-clipart items based on their descriptions that might have related products or if someone accidentally checked "clipart" as their resource type.
Now, your results are default sorted by "Relevance" to what you searched for.  
Let's talk about that price thing for a second before you sort by it (I saw you eyeballin' that option because that's how I roll too!). Lots of artists offer free clipart on TpT!!! However, I will say that if you're looking for your product to stand out a bit, you shouldn't limit yourself by price.  Clipart is definitely an investment. You can claim is at a deductible for your TpT business. Yep, that's right. Plus, if it's something you really like, you can use it on more than one product.  Find a style that fits your needs and invest in some clipart you can get a lot of mileage out of (bundles that include color and black/white versions for instance).  Most sellers tend to stick with just a few artists so that they can sort of build their "brand" with a certain look and use that style of clipart in multiple products, which comes in handy when you have been doing it for awhile.  You certainly don't have to follow this method to be successful, but it's something to think about when making your first few purchases.  
You can even buy larger bundles of clipart and save when there is a sitewide sale (typically in August, November, February and May you can save 28% off during a sale). 
If you are new to TpT and are concerned about spending a lot of money before you're making a lot, you can always sort your results by "Price, Rating or Bestseller" However, this is what sometimes happens. You can end up seeing some great clipart by mistake, but not exactly what you're looking for. 
Another great way to search for something specific is by searching within an actual store. For instance, let's say you're looking for "leprechaun" clipart. There is a search bar in every TpT store, and it's pretty handy if you know what you're looking for. Granted, it all pends on whether or not the seller used that particular word in their title or description, and the results vary depending on whether or not that word was used in other clipart descriptions. But, it's another way to find clipart, so it can't hurt!

Now, onto the not-so-fun part. Terms of Use (or TOU as some clipartists call them). These are the guidelines you accept when you use clipart. Some stores have them as individual downloads in their store so you can look at them BEFORE purchasing, like I do:
If it's not in the clipartist's store, it may be on their blog or in a freebie you download. You need to make the effort to find it. I highly recommend you actually find it and then READ IT before purchasing. That's in ALL CAPS because I know many established sellers don't make a point to read the TOU of the clipart they buy (and some are my dear friends that tell me they don't--hi friends!), and if you use it and break the TOU, it might be a big headache you don't want to deal with later.  Trust me. You wouldn't want to buy clipart only to discover that it can't be used to create something you specifically bought it for (for instance, my clipart cannot be used for creating your store logo/banner/blog design). It's awkward for both a seller and a clipartist to deal with (we often see our TOU not being followed and have to send a Q/A or email--just like a seller would if they found their resource being shared in a Facebook group, district website or something similar--we feel the same emotional stress when it happens!). Also, if you don't understand the wording or are unsure about something, just ask the seller!  Go straight to the source like the respectable professional you are. Leave a Question in their Q and A section of their store or email them privately! You will feel at ease knowing you did and you might even get the answer you hoped for. 
 If you're using clipart to make a free resource that is on your blog or in your store, that is still considered commercial-use. I come across a few sellers that think they don't need to include a credit logo because they made their product a freebie. Or only put the credit in the product description or somewhere written in a blog post. This is not the correct method for providing credit for many of your favorite clipartists on TpT (similar to how an illustrator has their name on a book, not in the Amazon description of the book). Again, read the clipart TOU to find out as I am not speaking for all clipartists. If you make sure to put your own ©copyright on your resource, chances are you need to credit the clipart as well.  

Once you do find an artist who's style is something you like and who's TOU you can agree to, you can "Follow" them by clicking the little star under their name in their store. Once you do that, you'll be able to see when they upload new products (along with anyone else you follow) by receiving an email from TpT (not an email when each seller uploads a product...that would be a little excessive!).  
And anytime you come back to the homepage, you'll also see new products anyone you follow has just uploaded.
*Ahem, shameless self-promotion (it is my own blog, right?)--I recently made this catalog with clickable links that you might like to check out:
If you found this tutorial helpful, you might also like to check out more tutorials here:

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