Skip to main content

The best stock art websites

Stock art: The iSpot
(Image credit: The iSpot)

As a creative, you may not think of using stock art. After all, isn't it cheating? We would argue it is not at all – it's all about context. If you've got a concept but don't have the means to commission a brand new piece of artwork, finding a perfect piece of stock art can be a brilliant solution. Just like stock photography, if it works, it works.

Stock illustrations have come along way in recent years, graduating past low-quality stock art. In fact, the best stock art websites hold a massive selection of high-quality graphics, vector, icons and full blown illustrations – all created by talented artists from around the globe. Looking for stock art for a new site? You need a decent website builder, too.

Of course, not every source of stock art is fantastic. So we've gathered together the absolute best stock art websites, encompassing a range of payment models and even some of the best free stock art websites.

Want to save more money? Also check out our guides to the best free graphic design software, as well as these top web hosting options, and get a great deal with our Creative Cloud discount page. 

Stock art: Screengrab from Adobe Stock website

Adobe Stock lets you instantly try images out in your CC apps (Image credit: Adobe Stock)

01. Adobe Stock

The best stock art website for Creative Cloud integration.

Specifications
Library includes: Photos, videos, illustrations, vectors, audio
Payment options: Credit pack or subscription
Cost: From £19.99 for 10 images a month or credit pack from £29.95 for 5
Reasons to buy
+Integrates with Creative Cloud+Advanced search filters+10 free images with free trial
Reasons to avoid
-Can't buy images individually

Adobe Stock is as slick as you'd expect it to be. It integrates with all your Creative Cloud apps, making it easy to preview a stock illustration or vector within your designs and then license it if it fits your needs. Packed with high quality photography, vectors and illustration, it's also a great platform for selling your own artwork. If you want to give it a test drive, Adobe offers a free 30-day trial with 10 images thrown in (be sure to save your images in cloud storage).

Stock art: Screengrab from Shutterstock website

It's not just photographs at Shutterstock – there's plenty of artwork too (Image credit: Shutterstock)

02. Shutterstock

Quality stock art with a variety of pricing options.

Specifications
Library includes: Photos, videos, illustrations, vectors, audio
Payment options: Credit pack or subscription
Cost: From £29 for 10 images a month, or credit pack from £29 for 5
Reasons to buy
+Quality stock illustrations+Design tools with subscription +10 free images with 30-day free trial
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive

Although you might think of it as a photography library, Shutterstock features a vast amount of stock art among its ever-expanding collection of imagery. Whether you're after sleek vectors, eye-catching illustrations or simple clip art, you should easily be able to find what you're looking for on the easy-to-navigate site. You will, however, probably pay a little more than with iStock or Adobe Stock.

Stock art: Screengrab from Getty website

Getty Images is best known for stock photos, but also features plenty of illustrations (Image credit: Getty)

03. Getty Images

High-end stock illustrations, but at a price.

Specifications
Library includes: Photos, videos, illustrations, vectors
Payment options: Pay per image, credit packs, enterprise solutions
Cost: From £150 for small image
Reasons to buy
+High quality illustrations +Advanced search filters
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive -No free images or free trial

Getty Images is huge. It mainly deals in photography, but its library also includes hundreds of thousands of illustrations, covering every subject you could think of. The stock art on offer here tends to lean more towards a clean and contemporary style, and it's easy to filter your search results by factors such as colour and style. Like Getty photos, however, the stock art here is relatively expensive compared to other libraries.

Stock art: Screengrab from iStock website

iStock has an extensive range of stock art (Image credit: iStock)

04. iStock

Getty's more affordable, but still high quality, sibling.

Specifications
Library includes: Photos, videos, illustrations, vectors
Payment options: Credit pack or subscription
Cost: From £19 for 10 images a month, or credit pack from £7 for one
Reasons to buy
+Advanced search feature+Cheaper than Getty+Weekly free images
Reasons to avoid
-No free trial

iStock is a smaller, micro-stock version of its bigger sister, Getty. This means it has some of the same features as Getty Images, so you can filter search results by dominant colour, for example. You can also find the empty space you're seeking in the design for text, and display your results accordingly. 

This is hugely refreshing given the amount of time it can sometimes take to find the right illo. iStock's illustrations are a little more vector-based than most on this list, but its range is extensive and relatively inexpensive. You also get three free images on sign up, and every week iStock offers you a new image to download for free for a limited time. 

Stock art: Screengrab from YouWorkForThem website

YouWorkForThem's mission is to be the world's best source for design resources (Image credit: YouWorkForThem)

05. YouWorkForThem

Stock art library by creatives, for creatives

Specifications
Library includes: Fonts, art, photos, graphics, videos, Photoshop Actions, music, sound effects, vector brushes
Payment options: Pay for each item
Cost: Varies
Reasons to buy
+Unique artwork+Affordable licences+By designers, for designers
Reasons to avoid
-Niche service

The original online creative marketplace, YouWorkForThem has been curating niche, designer-oriented stock graphics since 2001, not to mention fonts and photos too. In their own words, "we were founded by designers, and are run by designers, for designers". The service currently provides nearly 300,000 stock art graphics, all with easy, affordable licences. Custom licence options are available too.

Stock art: Old Book Illustrations home page

Here you'll find vintage illustrations scanned from old books

06. Old Book Illustrations

Free book illustrations with no strings attached.

Specifications
Library includes: Public domain illustrations
Payment options: Free
Cost: Free
Reasons to buy
+Free +Wide selection+No credit required
Reasons to avoid
-Limited to book illustrations

If you're looking for a vintage style of imagery, Old Book Illustrations is great – and also free. All the images are scanned from old books and in the public domain, so there are no rights to deal with. It's a beautiful collection: categories include plants, animals, buildings and monuments, ornaments and patterns.

Stock art: Selection of British Library illustrations

A huge collection of over one million images (Image credit: British Library)

07. The British Library

Over one million images, all available for free.

Specifications
Library includes: Illustrations, photographs, maps, vintage advertisements, botanical drawings, vintage comics
Payment options: Free
Cost: Free
Reasons to buy
+Free+Wide range of material+No credit required
Reasons to avoid
-No contemporary images

The British Library has shared over one million images in this public domain collection on Flickr. Much of it is old-style illustration and artwork; there are also thousands of photographs, maps, vintage advertisements, botanical drawings, vintage comics and other material.

Stock art: Selections of images in Flickr Commons

The Commons shares hidden gems from around the world (Image credit: Flickr Commons)

08. Flickr Commons

A giant database of free-to-use public domain assets.

Specifications
Library includes: Public domain illustrations
Payment options: Free
Cost: Free
Reasons to buy
+Free+Continually updated+Wide range of material
Reasons to avoid
-Can't search for art only

The Flickr Commons project seeks to bring together and organise the artworks and photograph collections that are made publicly available by a range of institutions, such as universities, museums and libraries. It can take a bit of effort to find what you want among all this material, but there's some great stuff if you persevere.

Stock art: Selection of stock illustrations

We love the animals section of this site (Image credit: Stock Illustrations)

09. Stock Illustrations

Does what it says on the tin.

Specifications
Library includes: Commercial stock illustrations
Payment options: Pay per item
Cost: Varies depending on usage
Reasons to buy
+Focused on illustration+Contemporary styles+Good search facility
Reasons to avoid
-Not as many images as other sites

The clue's in the name here. Stock Illustrations features contemporary stock illustrations suitable for the world of advertising, graphic design and publishing. Whether you're looking for a particular style, subject or work by a specific artist, there's a great search facility to help you find the right images for your project quickly.

Stock art: Screengrab from Ikon website

Ikon houses a range of stock art, viewable by style and subject (Image credit: Ikon)

10. Ikon

Great art, though not the most usable site.

Specifications
Library includes: Commercial stock illustrations
Payment options: Pay per item
Cost: Depends on usage
Reasons to buy
+Contemporary work +Focused on illustration 
Reasons to avoid
-Search not sophisticated -Wait 24 hours for pricing quote

Ikon's website seems quite mysterious – there’s a bit too much style over usability, so browsing takes some time. But it does house a good range of stock art, viewable by style, including photo illustration, vector, digital and line art, and subjects ranging from beauty and fashion, to transport and characters.

Stock art: Selection of illustrations

Image Zoo's stock art is more traditional than most sites (Image credit: ImageZoo)

11. Image Zoo

Stock art that leans towards traditional styles.

Specifications
Library includes : Stock and custom art
Payment options: Pay per item
Cost: From $19.95
Reasons to buy
+Quality work +Focused on illustration +Offers custom illustration
Reasons to avoid
-Short on contemporary art

Image Zoo has a large collection of traditional illustrations, searchable by keyword, artist name or subject (which effectively means the individual image name). The images are, in general, less contemporary than some of the other stock art sites listed here, and some are slightly reminiscent of traditional educational textbook illustrations.

Stock art: Screengrab from iSpot website

The iSpot features stock art from a range of talented artists (Image credit: iSpot)

12. The iSpot

Offers both stock and custom art.

Specifications
Library includes: Stock and custom art
Payment options: Pay per item
Cost: Based on usage
Reasons to buy
+Top-class illustrators+View portfolios+Online pricing tool
Reasons to avoid
-Fewer images than some sites

The iSpot website has a huge number of traditional illustrations on offer – you're unlikely to find CG or 3D art here. Many different styles are covered, from a range of talented artists. You can search for stock art using keywords for category, subject, style and medium, as well as the artist's name and the date it was uploaded.

Stock art: Screengrab from Laughing Stock website

Laughing Stock describes itself as the place to find big ideas and small gems (Image credit: Laughing Stock)

13. Laughing-Stock

Agency-focused stock illustration site.

Specifications
Library includes: Stock and custom illustration and animation
Payment options: Based on usage
Cost: Varies
Reasons to buy
+Focused on illustration+150 high-end artists+Highly curated
Reasons to avoid
-Fewer images than some sites

Providing both stock art and stock animations, Laughing-Stock is an illustration services agency specialising in rights-managed stock imagery. This means that you tell artists when and how you plan to use the image and then pay a licensing fee just for that usage. Powered by over 150 illustrators, Laughing-Stock is bursting with distinctive work that will help your projects to stand out.

Related articles:

Georgia Coggan

Georgia Coggan is a regular freelance contributor for Creative Bloq, who has also worked on T3 and Top Ten Reviews. With a particular interest in branding and retro design, Georgia writes about everything from logo design to creative technology, enjoys hunting down genuinely good deals and has even used her knowledge as an ex-teacher to create buying guides on products including children's books and bookcases. Tying these design interests together is an obsession with London Underground posters from the last century.