Where to find high quality & free stock art

During school, the best activities were art activities for me as I’m a very visual person.  Like all nerds, I loved school projects and having the excuse to design things.  Fast forward, now I find myself needing stock art to put on the blog or just designing things for fun.  Some of the sites even lets you use the art for commercial use (business cards, book covers, cds, etc) but there are limitations, so read the license carefully if you are heading down that road.

The best sites I’ve found for amazing quality clipart are listed below.  They are sponsored by companies who hope that you will eventually buy some stock art from them and I’ve done that before.  It’s astounding what is available for use, they are truly beautiful graphics which would take me hours to do myself!

How to download & use files:

1) When you click on any site, either use the categories to find what you want or do a search.

2) Usually they want you to open a free account, which is the price of admission.

3) Pick what file format you want (jpeg or eps) and save to your folder on your computer.

4) Open in your graphics program or put into any office software program for use (eg. microsoft office)


 Pixelbay –  high quality photos and stock art


Stock exchange – another site for high quality photos and stock art

free v

Free Vector art and graphics archive – gorgeous vector art for every project possible and divided into categories!  I didn’t realize that you can download pre-made infographics which look really slick.

v open stock

Vector Open Stock – only click in the middle area if you want free vectors.  It gets confusing when top and bottom bars appear and they link to other sites.


My Father's Nightmare…Is What I Am Now!

There is an excellent play at Soulpepper Theatre (in Toronto’s Distillery District) on at the moment called Kim’s Convenience, which is about a Korean family and their first generation Westernized children.  Basically, the father has high hopes for his children and he also wants one of the kids to continue running the family business, a convenience store.  This is my second time watching and the acting was just as wonderful as the first time.  I don’t want to give away the plot, but it there are a few twists and hilarious lines (“Only skinny Asian is the gay.  That’s rule.”  “Fat guy is black, brown shoes, that’s no steal.  That’s cancel out combo!”)  To my surprise, before walking out of the venue, staff were selling books of script.  I bought a copy to read as some of the dialogue was in Korean and while it was easy to imagine what the characters were saying, it is great to finally solve the mystery of what was actually being said.

Kim's Convenience Cast Picture
Paul Sun-Hyung Lee & Grace Lynn Kung. Photo: Cylla von Tiedemann

Anyhow, the play got me thinking about my own father and how disappointed he has been in me.  His dream was that I would be a professional of some sort, such as a doctor, lawyer or accountant and I am none of those things.  I think I have a fairly good job, but it is difficult for me to explain what I do as I don’t fit into any standard job definition of what he understands.  Wanting to write or paint or do anything creative is viewed as a luxury.  This is not surprising, as he spends a lot of time working and any arts stuff is frivolous as free time should be spent fixing the house, babysitting the grandchildren, driving relatives to multiple grocery stores, etc.  I’m also sure that immigrating to any country is difficult, as well as raising a generation of kids who are growing up in an environment the parents didn’t grow up in.  On a recent multi-family road trip with some teenagers and their parents, I remember the teenagers complaining that their parents didn’t understand them.  I told them that quite frankly, their parents will probably never understand them as we all grew up in different countries and are exposed to so many different things culturally.  Maybe I sounded like an old person, but I told them that they should think from their parent’s point of view sometimes as things are difficult for them as well and to respect the elders regardless.  My advice was ignored as they started to yell rudely at their mother to pack all the luggage and to remember the cell phone power cords.

My father once said to me that I should specialize in something and do one thing very well in my career…or else I would know a bit of everything and not be good in anything!  Over time, the latter has happened as I haven’t been focused on just doing one thing.  I think I have attention deficit disorder (ADD) or some sort of impatient person syndrome as I get bored with things over time easily and I like having the adrenaline rush of trying or doing new things.  However, I have been fortunate to also not be afraid to jump at opportunities when I see them, so I have worked on some incredible projects.  I’m sure he is thinking about job stability, etc, but I think in my generation, one doesn’t really have job stability anymore.   As I keep looking ahead all the time for new/exciting prospects, having a bit of ADD is perhaps an advantage as you can gain skills in lots of stuff and apply them to roles not necessarily in your field.  Here’s hoping that some of the selling skills I have learned in side marketing jobs will help me with this book stuff!

Where are the headless people?

Today I spent some time at the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) and was forced to climb up long flights of stairs by my husband to the contemporary exhibit (yes, I am a lazy person).  Anyhow, it was worth the effort, as there was a strange new media exhibit called Lost in the Memory Palace: Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller, on the top floor in which I discovered some interesting things.  There were several rooms in which visitors can enter and experience something visually or acoustically.  One room felt like you were in someone’s apartment in the middle of a storm in which lots of water poured down from the windows and there was thunder/rain noises.

Another featured a killing machine with robots drilling/interacting with an empty chair with leather straps (you pretend someone is in it I suppose), spooky violin music and a disco ball which create lights all over the room.  The lights looked like a nuclear medicine scan of the heart and the music at that point was a heart beating, then stopping (with lights going out = person is dead I presume).  Not sure if the artist knew that; if they did, I would be super impressed.


There was one room which looked like some strange genius occupied it, as there were stacks of books, cups with fake bugs in it, plates of fake food, plastic heads and odd machinery parts.  If you sat between two large gramophone tubes, voices start asking who you are and there is a pre-recorded dialogue with conversation between two strangers.  It appears the random music and voices start talking once you approach a particular area, leading me to believe there are some motion detectors in the room.  Out of all the items in the room, there was one book with maps which caught my eye featuring maps by Italian sailor and cartographer named Andrea Bianco of the 15th century.  It was fascinating as the map featured Russia, England, Jerusalem, etc and had locations of the “Garden of Eden” along with the “Headless People.”  Doing searches on google, I can not locate this map.  However, I learned at the time that many biblical places were put onto maps as it seemed like a popular thing to do back them.  Will have to go back to the gallery before August 18 and see what the title of the book is.  I want to find out more about the headless people and their mythology if any!

For those interested in world maps throughout the centuries, here is a great site with scans of maps from different periods – ancient (6200 BC to 600 AD), early medieval (600AD-1300), late medieval (1300-1500) and renaissance 1492-1800.

bianco world map


At Anime North I had participated in an auction and bought two pieces of jewelry that were “steampunk” in style (bracelet & locket).  There were also metal goggles, scarves and pocket watches on sale, but I refrained myself.  All the pieces were just so beautiful and…shiny which is a weakness of mine as I do like things that reflect light.

Steampunk is is based on Victorian-era clothing style, but incorporates  industrial elements such as brass gears, fittings, watch parts, leather and rivets.  Many costumes for women include corsets, puffy skirts, high neck blouses and masculine style jackets.  As I had a conversation with a friend today about how obsess I have been lately about buying a corset to make a costume for the next Anime North, she pointed out how ironic this was since I was still on a journey on trying to get pregnant.  Well, whether the baby/parasite (that’s what we called them in embryology class) thing happens or not, I do hope I will keep enough shape to fit into the corset in the future.

The whole concept of steampunk fascinates me as it is so creative and cool!  As I age, it seems less likely I can dress up like a gothic Lolita without looking like an old woman-child but steampunk seems more doable and ageless.

steampunk jewelrysteampunk


Anime North 2013

Yesterday I did some volunteer work for Anime North 2013.  It’s been a while as I had stopped helping the con out due to work and education pursuits which took up a lot of time.  There were lots of nerdy merchandise to buy in the dealers room, lots of wonderful amateur artwork to peruse and the high point was two live moving Daleks who went around shouting “exterminate…exterminate!”  There were some aerial silk acrobat performers and wrestlers throwing each other to the ground…making one feel very lazy as I certainly had none of those amazing capabilities.  There were also lots of amazing costumes, although it seemed like people were dressed up 50:50 (normal clothing: costume).  Lots of Links from Legend of Zelda (in the dealers room I saw a Zelda metal shield, was so tempted to buy, but held back), bought some steam punk genre jewelry so perhaps on my next visit to the con I’ll wear a Victorian steam punk dress.  Spoke at length with some professional artists and writers, which made me realize I better kick myself and start moving on this publishing goal.  Last year at Anime North 2012 I spoke about writing, so someone had asked me if I wanted a table for my wares.  Alas, it was embarrassing to admit I had nothing to sell this year, so here’s hoping that next year I’ll have something ready!!