How to Buy Graphics for Commercial Use

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How do you make your printables stand out from the crowd? One of the most important elements of creating successful printables that you sell on Etsy is to use high-quality graphics. However, it is important to ensure you understand your legal aspect and graphics rights for commercial use.

In this post, we will discuss everything you need to know about buying graphics for commercial use to use in your printable products. From a brief discussion of copyright law awareness to finding reputable sources for graphics.

So whether you’re just getting started in the printables world or you’re looking to take your existing business to the next level, read on to learn how to buy graphics for commercial use and create amazing products that you can sell on Etsy.

* We are not lawyers and this is not legal advice. You should always check the license requirements for whatever you are buying prior to use. *

Where can I find graphics for commercial use for my printables?

There are many places where you can find graphics for commercial use to create printables to sell on Etsy.


One popular platform is Canva, which offers a wide variety of free graphics that you can use in your printable designs. There are both free and paid versions of Canva.

What Can you do with Canva?

Canva is the #1 tool that all printable sellers should learn. You can make designs very quickly using Canva and can use it to create materials for your business or start a new business with your Canva designs! Learn more about what this platform can do.

Related posts:
The Best Ways to Make Money with Canva
The Ultimate Guide to Using Canva to Sell on Etsy

With Canva Pro, you aren’t allowed to use any of the pro elements within your printables, so that is something to keep in mind when determining which version will be right for your needs.

In this video, Cody walks you through all of the features offered with Canva Pro to help you decide if it’s right for your small business.

Creative Fabrica

Another great option is Creative Fabrica, which gives you access to a huge library of graphics, fonts, and other design resources that are perfect to create unique printables.

Creative Fabrica is a good resource for teachers, crafters, and other designers. For $29/month, Creative Fabrica users receive a commercial use license for clipart and images, which includes unlimited copies of every design.

creative fabrica home page
Creative Fabrica offers a huge variety of fonts and graphics available for commercial use and print on demand items.

If a monthly subscription is too rich for your burgeoning business, you can also license each design individually for a small fee.

Creative Fabrica is a favorite site for many designers because there’s a deal that works for everyone.

Design Bundles and Creative Market

Design Bundles and Creative Market are additional popular choices among printable designers and sellers, with a range of high-quality graphics that are available for purchase.

With Design Bundles, there’s a good mix of free images, clipart, and SVG files. However, the supply is limited compared to sites like Creative Fabrica, Canva, and Etsy.

design bundles home page

Currently, there is a promotion that will allow you to use the Design Bundles Gold Membership for $3 for the first month. This will allow you to explore the site and see if you like it at a relatively low cost before you commit to purchasing.

Creative Market’s pricing plan is based on download credits, with each design or design bundle costing a certain number of design credits. The more you pay for your monthly plan, the more design credits you receive for the month.

creative market graphics screen

The Creative Market subscription ranges from $19.95 to $49.95 per month. However, even if you cancel, Creative Market says you still have the license for whatever images you purchased with your credits.


Some sellers prefer to support other Etsy sellers and the Etsy marketplace itself is a great source for graphics and design elements. Many of those sellers offer commercial use licenses for their work.

etsy commercial use graphics

With Etsy, you can buy bundles of designs that include a commercial license. In some instances, it can become the best deal for creators since you can license thousands of images at a low cost.

Etsy’s marketplace is not as robust as Canva or Creative Fabrica, but it is a good source for things like clipart and other graphic designs.

Design Cuts

Design Cuts is a platform that offers curated bundles of design resources at discounted prices, making it a great option for those looking to build their design library while saving money.

Like Etsy, the users of Design Cuts run an individual store, which means they set the price and determine what’s included in a bundle.

Some designers have no problem offering shoppers a deal, while others keep prices consistent.

The nice thing about Design Cuts is that there’s plenty of free content to choose from, offering a good deal to users.

Now that you know the rules you need to follow to buy images and the types of licenses you should take into consideration before you buy clipart or photos, let’s look at the places you can go to buy these items.

Where can I find images for commercial use for my printables?

In addition to the design platforms mentioned above, there are also many other places you can purchase images for commercial use to create printables to sell on Etsy.

One popular choice is the Hungry JPEG, which offers a wide variety of digital products, including high-quality images that can be used in your printable products. These images also work well when you’re looking to make unique mock-ups for your listing images.

Adobe Stock, Shutter Stock, and Getting Images are all additional photo platforms that offer high-quality images and graphics that can be licensed for commercial use.

No matter which platform you choose, purchasing images for commercial use can help you create professional-looking printables that stand out on Etsy.

Want to start selling on Etsy? Learn how to set up your own Etsy shop where you can list your newly created printables and start selling them today!

Other Places to Find Graphics and Images to Use

When you’re just starting out, you want to be as cost-effective as possible, so using free graphics, clipart, and photos is your best choice.

U.S. copyright law is strict, so finding those things for free, especially ones that you need for your specific printable or product, can be difficult, but there are some places you can look that may have what you’re looking for.

Graphics in the Public Domain

One of the best places to find free stock images and stock illustrations is in the public domain. Public domain means that the photos or files were never under the copyright or the copyright has expired.

However, finding clipart or photos not under copyright is hard. Since Jan. 1, 1978, the U.S. Copyright Office has operated under the policy of copywriting everything, with or without an application. That means if an artist created the photos or images after that date, they are automatically under copyright.

Moreover, the U.S. Copyright Office says the copyright lasts for the life of the creator plus 70 years.

To save yourself the trouble, always assume a photo or clipart is under copyright unless you are explicitly told otherwise.

Free Stock Photos and Digital Clipart

Your other option is to find free stock photos or clipart, either directly or indirectly.

Indirectly means you go through stock agencies like Pexels or Unsplash, which offer royalty-free images and other commercial use clipart with the artist’s permission.

Most stock agencies have set up a system with the artist. The artist uploads the free photos or digital clipart for commercial use with the hopes of receiving a “tip” from users. In this case, you have the artist’s permission.

You could also talk to the artist directly and get permission to use the stock images. If you go this route, make sure both of you are clear on what “commercial use” means.

The website Pixsy has a guide to help you find an image’s source and copyright. If you do not use one of the stock agencies available, you may have a tough time finding the artist to get permission.

Unless these are photos you simply cannot do without, there are other, easier ways to gain a commercial use license for your images.

Can I Modify a Copyrighted Image for Commercial Use?

You might be tempted to make a small adjustment to commercial-use clipart or other web elements to subvert U.S. copyright law. As a general rule, it is not legal to modify copyrighted images for commercial use without getting permission from the copyright holder.

While there are some limited exceptions to the rule, such as when it is considered “fair use,” modifying a copyrighted image without permission could lead you to some legal troubles.

If you want to use a copyrighted image in your printable products, it’s important to either obtain a license from the copyright holder or use images that are licensed for commercial use, such as those available on stock photo platforms or from independent creators who offer commercial licenses for their work.

This will help ensure that you have the legal right to use the images in your products and avoid any potential legal issues down the line.

* We are not lawyers and this is not legal advice. You should always check the license requirements for whatever you are buying prior to use. *

Can I Fair Use Graphics Without a Commercial License?

You might have also heard the term “fair use” in copyright discussions.

Fair use is the idea that, in some cases, you are legally allowed to use copyright-protected works without permission or a commercial use license.

However, the U.S. Copyright Office is clear that fair use only applies in circumstances such as criticism, commentary, news reporting, or scholarly reports.

It’s not a way to obtain free stock images.

In the case of your creations, you cannot use photos or graphic images without a commercial license.

Can I Use Photos I Find on the Internet for Free?

Another common assumption people make is that if they find an image or graphic via a Google search, it’s completely free to use.

This is also incorrect.

Again, you should always assume something is under copyright unless you know for a fact that it is free to use.

Want to Sell Your Photos?

Do you have photos that you’ve taken or created? Learn how to make money by selling your original photos on Etsy.

Understanding Commercial Use Licenses

When purchasing graphics for commercial use to create your printables, it’s important to understand the different types of licenses that are available.

Two common types of licenses are the standard license and the extended-use license.

Standard License

A standard license usually allows for commercial use of the graphic in a single project, such as the printables you are creating to sell on Etsy. Oftentimes, they have restrictions on the number of copies you can sell and the amount of money you can earn from it.

Extended Use Licenses

An extended-use license usually allows for more broad commercial use of the graphics such as being allowed to use it in multiple projects or having no limitations to the amount of money you can earn from it.

The biggest thing to remember is that the specifics of each license can vary depending on the holder. It is always important to carefully review the terms of the license and ensure that it covers the intended use of the graphic in your printable products.

By understanding the different types of licenses available, you can make informed choices when purchasing graphics for your Etsy shop and help ensure that your products are both beautiful and legally compliant.


When creating your printables to sell on Etsy, it’s important to use high-quality graphics that are legally obtained and licensed for commercial use. There are many platforms and resources available that you can choose from to need the needs of your design.

When choosing your graphics, be sure to understand the terms of the license and that it covers your intended use of the graphic in your printable product.

Additionally, it’s important to understand copyright laws and avoid modifying copyrighted images without permission from the copyright holder. By following these guidelines, you can create beautiful and legally compliant printables that are sure to stand out on Etsy and attract customers to your shop.

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Meet Julie & Cody

Julie Berninger and Cody Berman of Gold City Ventures™ have made thousands selling printables and digital downloads in their Etsy shops and on Shopify. They help others start printable businesses with their programs and templates.

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Learn how to start a business selling printables on Etsy!

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