So you’ve decided you want to make some dope printables for your home and impress everyone with your snazzy wall art. Or maybe you’ve got awesome dreams of earning sweet dollars selling printables on Etsy. Or maybe you’re just a blogger like me who wants to share free printables on their blog.
If you’re artistically inclined, the obvious thing to do is make your own art to distribute as a printable. But if you’re not artistically inclined, having a place to find images to use in your printables is really helpful.
Because of copyright restrictions, you can’t just use any old image you find on Google (damn, right?) Instead, you need to use images that are either public domain or come with a commercial use licence (more on that below).
So today I want to share three of my favourite places to find public domain/commercial use images that can be used to make printables.
While not all images on these sites can be used commercially, the vast majority are either free from copyright restrictions or can be used for commercial purposes with the appropriate credit.
This list is by no means exhaustive. There are lots of different websites where you can download public domain/commercial use images to use for your printables. These are just my three favourites. And I think you’ll like them too because, between them, they have over six million images available to download. That’s a whole lotta printables right there.
Where to download free images for printables
1. The Biodiversity Heritage Library
The Biodiversity Heritage Library’s Flickr account is hands down my favourite place to find images for printables. I recently used images from here to create this vintage bird printable and this scientific butterfly printable.
At time of writing, they have 142,568 images available for download. As the name suggests, most of their images focus on the natural world – birds, flowers, scientific plant diagrams, insects, and miscellaneous animals. They update their selection of public domain and commercial use images fairly often, so check back later if you can’t find what you’re looking for right away.
2. The British Library
The British Library’s Flickr account is another fantastic source for images to use in printables. At time of writing, they have a massive 1,023,705 images available for download. A huge chunk of their images have no known copyright restrictions, meaning you can do whatever you want with them.
When compared to the Biodiversity Heritage Library’s Flickr account, the British Library offers a more diverse range of images. There’s less of a focus on the natural world and many more images of things like people and the built environment.
3. The Internet Archive
The Internet Archive is a digital library that basically collects and collates free resources from other organisations, including images you can use to make printables. I used the archive to find the images I used in these 15 minute vintage poster scroll frames.
Because the account collates images from elsewhere, you might find images you’ve already seen on the British Library/Biodiversity Heritage Library’s Flickr accounts. But with 5,249,952 images for download, you’ll easily find a bunch of unique images to use in your home decor/Etsy/blog-related projects.
A quick note on printable licences
Each image has its own licence. You can find out what sort of licence each image when you click on the image itself. Take, for example, the image I used to make this vintage bird printable.
The red circle shows where you’ll see the licence. When you click this licence, you’ll be taken to a page that provides a human-friendly summary of what you can and can’t do with the image.
As I mentioned before, most of the images on the aforementioned sites are either free from copyright restrictions or can be used commercially with attribution. But it’s always best to double-check for each individual image.
If you just want to make a printable for your home, you don’t really need to worry about licencing. But if you want to make printables that you intend to distribute (for example, via an Etsy store or blog – even if you’re offering the printables for free), it’s a good idea to familiarise yourself with the different licences so you don’t break any copyright laws.
Do you have a favourite place to download public domain/commercial use images to use in printables or other creative projects? If so, it’d be awesome if you could pop it in the comments below. I’ll then add a list of reader-suggested places to this post, with the appropriate credit, of course!