Back in the good old days before the internet, designers had to freehand pretty much everything they made. It would have been almost impossible to make a career in “graphic design” if you weren’t also an illustrator. So for every design, you were sometimes forced to reinvent the wheel. You might not have had access to references at all times, and if you did, it was probably in the form of books like these:
These are Pictorial Archive books. Designers and artists would use these as references when creating visual pieces. They were the first examples of Clip Art, and you probably still see these designs around today. Later on, once the copy machine was invented, it was common to make photocopies of the page, cut out the picture you wanted, and trace right over it. Then, they started coming with CD-ROMs so you could load them into your favorite photo editing software to change them how you liked. They also released others for fonts. Do you think Dafont.com is a nightmare? How about flipping through a phone book until you found what you wanted? To learn more about these, or purchase a few for your collection, check out Dover Publications. They are the biggest releaser of Pictorial Archive books and still publishes them today.
So despite this being a fun factoid from the history of Graphic Design, it’s also very relevant to the list you are about to read. The idea of the Pictorial Archive is alive and well in the digital world. Thousands of websites hosting collections, vying for your subscription dollars, and some just cluttering up your Google Searches. It can be hard to find a good go-to’s. So, without further ado, here are the top 5 asset services designers every designer needs.