Using Clipart the right way

Growing up, I was always into the visual arts. Inspired by surrealists, cartoonists, and graffiti artists, I doodled my way through high school, taking extracurricular art classes whenever I had the chance.

This was before smartphone filters and Photoshop had turned every other office worker into a shake n’ bake-style creative. The area of the arts was reserved for the Cure-loving goths down the back of the schoolyard. And the hazy-eyed hippies with their handpainted schoolbags and tie-dye Hendrix shirts. The closest I ever came to digital art was when I was handed a school bulletin covered in ClipArt.

And it made me cringe.

Some people like to pretend it didn’t look that bad back then. You know, like Michael Bolton’s haircut, or this. Pretend it only looks bad because now we’re so used to newer, better aesthetics. My 17-year old Dali-loving self would undoubtedly disagree.

Because let’s be honest. It was always a little cheesy now, wasn’t it?

That said, it wasn’t completely devoid of brilliance. Because it was never meant to be about art, despite the somewhat misleading nature of the name. That’s why it was exhibited in Word and PowerPoint, not The Met or Le Louvre.

The original ClipArt was about making information a little more interesting. And about getting a message across with the support of some visual stimulants.

And it was about simplicity. Putting the visuals where the people are. Enabling fast access to cleared content inside the programs they’re already using.

But it still sucked. Sorry, Microsoft.

And now?

Well, Microsoft went and shut it down in 2013, and the world let out a sigh of relief. But it was a short-lived sigh, because people started realizing how practical it was, and that there wasn’t a replacement.

So, they started stealing presentation images and photos for their docs from search engines instead.

Then came the GIF. And the emoji.

And we’re incredibly grateful for both. But sometimes this doesn’t quite convey the right message in your monthly report to your boss, now, does it? And this might put you at risk of being confused for your teenage daughter.

Thankfully, the world of clipart has moved on since then. Much like emojis, clipart draws from a universal language that everyone understands. They’re everywhere from mobile apps and websites, to game consoles and TV menus. People are used to their simplicity and the concepts they illustrate. This means less time wasted on visual analysis and trying to understand their meaning. So, if you need something that’ll enhance your message, not compete with it or distract people — modern clipart to the rescue.

That said, there are a few things to keep in mind when using clipart images in 2019 so they deliver the desired effect.

1. Choose the right colors and styles

Using consistent clipart styles and colors for your slides is important. If you pick flat design clipart for your first slide, don’t use 3D clipart for your second one. Stick to your template’s color palette, and keep it neat and tasteful.

2. Choose a friendly format

Secondly, make sure you pick the right size and format. If clipart images are too small, upscaling them for a bigger screen may distort them. At the same time, they shouldn’t be so large that they make your presentation file big and heavy to load. Use PNG images with a transparent background for best quality.

3. Choose the right metaphor

Last but not least, make sure you’ve chosen the right metaphor. For example, a chess set might be a nice way to illustrate strategy. A growth graphic, however, may be too generic to make an impression.

Remember: the top result for your keyword search on Google is most likely too overused to impress your audience. Try to come up with a creative alternative instead.

It’s everything you liked about ClipArt (fast & legal), minus everything you didn’t (cheesy).

Boutique presentation agency on a single mission - truly effective presentations. We teach you how to present your business to win your audience.