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The Blank Slate: Free vs Paid Design Resources

The Blank Slate: Free vs Paid Design Resources

It’s time once again for The Blank Slate, an open forum discussion on thoughts, issues and topics related to the design industry. For this issue, I have a really interesting topic, one that seems to have strong opinion on both sides of the issue. Where do you stand on the free vs paid design resources available on the web today?

Here at WeGraphics we offer a multitude of top quality design resources, and in order to do that we hire our artists to produce each and every brush, vector or texture. We believe in producing the very best resources available, and in order to do so, we must charge a small fee to provide them. This keeps our artists paid, and gives them the ability to spend the time needed to produce their work.

On the flip side of the issue… A lot of designers are working on a shoestring budget and are looking for free resources that they can add to their design work in order to stay under budget and on time. We understand this side of things as well, and do offer free downloads from time to time.

What side do you stand on?

Do you believe that all artists should get paid for their work? Do you believe that the web is for free distribution of content, and design resources should be free as well? I’d love to hear everyone’s thoughts on this. Post a comment below and let me know what you think.

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Nathan Brown

Nathan Brown is a graphic designer who loves working with various media. He combines traditional art styles with a little experimentation and digital flare. Nathan's works have contained everything from ink and paint to leaves and a box of dirt. Everything is fare game when it comes to his approach to art. Nathan lives in Austin, Texas where he has been working as a designer for 10 years.

17 Comments

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  1. john

    Everybody should earn from his job… it’s a fact, otherwise it’s a hobby, not a job!

  2. As an artist myself, I would prefer if people PAID for my music. HOWEVER, if my music is in the fan’s hand, I am sure that I will reap some sort of benefit even if it isn’t monetary.

  3. I love free stuff, but i believe not everything can be free, it’s a fact. I’m very grateful to the individuals who are generous enough to share their wares without pay because at some level they will get hired (with pay) to do something because they’ve already showcased their awesome skills. And good people are hard to put down. So if you can give something for free, I’m here to make sure it won’t go to waste. And will wish you all good things for your kindness.

  4. I can see both sides of the fence here, but I’m one who believes that the designer / artist went to college / university and PAID to have training so they can produce the get pieces of art work.

    On the other hand I’m a web designer and if I can get the graphics and design work for free, then by all means I’m not going to say no.

    But I stick to my original statement and I agree with John… It’s a job to them and you wouldn’t like to do a fulls day work and see nothing for it. If you do, then it should be a hobby and not a JOB.

    Pay the guys… they deserve it!!

  5. That´s a really hard thing. On one side, everyone would like to have awesome resources for free but on the other side every designer would like to have some money for his hard work. So it´s hard to tell whats better. The things you pay for are usually better but not in every case. For a good reason: Why put hard work in something you won´t get money for; I guess that´s what most free-resource hosts think. But the thing is, there are so many websites which offer free stuff and get money anyway. If you offer high quality resources and get 15.000 clicks per day you can have a bit advertisement or some kind of sponsors who give you money. I mean look at Google. Started with nothing and look where they are now. It just needs a good idea.

  6. I can see both sides of the argument. I use and appreciate free resources on the web, but if I can get a higher quality for a small fee, then I am willing to do that.

    In short, we should all get paid more :)

  7. I think there is room for both paid & free resources, and it’s up to the creator of said resources to determine which side of the fence their creations land on.

    Creating free resources can pave the way for increased traffic/recognition, which in turn increases the probability of more people buying your premium/paid resources. It’s a proven business model that works for some people.

    Plus, there are clients who are willing to pay for resources, and there are those that aren’t. For those using paid resources, we should simply be able to pass that cost along to the client.

    In short, I think both work and both should be celebrated, used, and not abused.

    • john

      An up for Jeff!

    • Totally agree

    • I’m completely in line with what Jeff said. There is (and has to be) room for both types of resources, when you need them.

      I think paying for resources help keeping them coming at users. Maintaining a site based on free resources would rely on adv only and would then need a much higher traffic not to become a loss-only scenario, which, in turn, would lead to the creators abandoning the project as soon as they find more reliable sources of income.

      If it has to be full time / high quality it has to have at least a good balance of the two.

      Thanks Nathan for the topic!

    • Totally agree with Jeff and Nicola… Good input!

    • me too… totally agree!

  8. There has to be a balance, everybody has bills to pay thats just life…

  9. Stephen Brennan

    As a Designer student I have to say that many times paid resources (such as stock photos) are unaffordable for me. I simply have to create my own images, find a more affordable option, or access free resources.

    I really appreciate free resources, and if possible I certainly attempt to give some form of payment to the designer. I do so out of gratitude more than anything else, because I certainly don’t expect them to make the resources available for free. Things will be different once I have finished my studies and working. My attitude is that if the client wants to have a certain resource used for their product, then the client should be expected to pay for that resource.

    In the end, I agree with Jeff. Both free and paid resources have their place.

    • Rilwan

      Hi Stephen, I’m a graphic designer student, but do you know good vector graphic training in UK?

  10. Pedro Vinagre

    I don’t mind paying for high quality resources…
    If they’re not good, I won’t buy them anyway!

    I believe good work must be always rewarded! And if we make that for a living…

  11. there are some great free resources out there, here’s mine:

    http://www.mammothpixel.com – free logo designer

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