Vector Packs VS. Creativity

Hello. Without too much of an introduction, I want to talk about a sensitive issue: whether vector packs are a useful resource or just a way to get people into pretending they are designers and help them produce unoriginal, weak designs.

First of all, let me start by telling you how I got into graphic design in the first place. This little story might me considered the argument I make in favor of vector packs.

Once upon a time, a guy who knew next to nothing about design, apparel, vectors, merch and such fancy words, while uploading his drawings on deviantart glanced upon something that really stirred his interest. A contest was announced. But it was not a drawing contest, nor a painting one. The purpose was to create a t-shirt design. And it had to be in vector format. The adventure begins.

I had no clue about vectors, remember? So googleing and searching for tutorials on how they work, I eventualy stumbled upon some vector packs/clipart/stock stuff. It took me a couple of weeks of getting into Illustrator, trying stuff, working my way into those tutorials until I kind of got the hang of it. And I say “kind of” because I don’t consider myself an Illustrator expert now, after way more time spent learning – you can only imagine how shallow was my knowledge at the time.

Long story short, I won squat. That was to be expected, after all, I just got into that kind of stuff and my knowledge was limited. But, I gained a lot through this “first vector contact” experience. I now knew that these magical things existed and that raster was not the only way to illustrate. Also, it was quite the revelation for me that vectors have infinite scalability..I mean, wow, you could print it as huge as you want, HUGE, I tell you! There were some more funny things to tell you about those first designs – how I waited for months to be announced as the winner, how I was so pissed whenever someone else uploaded a design and pushed mine on the last pages, etc., you know stuff you do when you are participating in a contest – but I don’t really care for this kind of public self-irony now…maybe some other time, another blog entry, who knows.

Now, concerning the topic of choice, why would this “short” story be my argument in favor of vector packs? Because, although I knew nothing about vector based software such as Adobe Illustrator or Corel Draw, I had these useful resources to practice, to hone my skill with and ultimately, to make something new out of something that I already have. This is how good use of clipart/vector packs/ stock art works: you get them, use them according to your personality, ideas, wishes, make your own contrubution to the piece and tadaaa, you get a design done way faster and easyer. I should stress that I support original design/art/anything. But, in certain cases, you can get something original done while using vector packs. Yes, this is possible. No, vector packs are not the scourge of the design world. People who use them in all the wrong ways are… I mean, a bad designer will stand out more – in a negative way, of course – than those who put them to good use. Fortunately, that is not the case with all designers. Because the art some of those people create reminds so little of the vectors/resources they used, because their pieces are original works of art, despite being made from pre-rendered artwork. If I were to use an analogy I would compare this with a good fruit salad. Use the right fruits, add your own ingredients, and you got yourself a delicious healthy meal. Use the same fruits but add salt instead of sugar (well, not a chef here, so insert any other way of destroying a perfectly good fruit salad) and you got yourself a bad design. Well it may not be always this simple, but you get the idea!

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