Graphic Design:USA Annual Survey

Posted on 8/27/1998 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)



August 27, 1998

Twenty percent of graphic designers prefer to find their images on CD or

on-line according to Graphic Design:USA's annual survey. Another 40% prefer

to use print catalogs, but the shocker is that the remaining 40% prefer to

use a combination of CD, on-line and print.

That means that 60% of the buyers are using digital search to some extent.

The survey was mailed to 1,200 randomly selected graphic design firms, ad

agencies, corporations and publishers. Eighty seven percent say they have

used a traditional stock agency in the past year, 64% said they had used a

royalty free CD and 47% say they have used the internet or an on-line service

to locate stock imagery.

Sixty eight percent said they used stock more than six times in the past year

and 31% said they had used stock more than 20 times in the year.

As usual, the Graphic Design:USA annual stock survey that appears in the

August issue is a must read for anyone in the stock photo industry. GD:USA

devotes 18 pages to this subject with quotes from dozens of art directors on

how and why they use stock.

The graphic design projects, in order of volume, where stock visuals are used

were (1) "Brochures & Collateral", (2) "Advertising" and (3)"Direct Mail &

Catalogs". In fourth place was "Internet and Multi-media" design, often

referred to as New Media. The growth in this area is probably another reason

why designers are looking more to CD's and on-line search to find their


In general, designers seemed to be very pleased with the quality of images and

service coming from stock agencies. It was emphasized again and again that

clients are pushing them with shorter and shorter deadlines and they need to

work with suppliers who can provide quality work quickly.

Several designers who prefer to use photographers to produce custom shoots

lamented that because of schedule and budget constraints they no longer can

afford that luxury. Meeting those time and budget constraints are also a

reason for using RF.

Some of the concerns expressed about RF related to: reproduction quality, lack

of originality, repetitiveness and less flexibility with the size of the

image. The exclusivity issue was also a concern, but rather than worrying

about anyone else using the image the concern seemed to be that once they

pick an image from a royalty free disc they are likely to see that image

appearing EVERYWHERE.

Some Art Director Comments

Robert Dimetrosky of Dimetrosky Advertising in Parsippany, NY wrote, "We use

royalty-free stock photos about 100 to 150 times a year for various clients

in many marketplaces."

Dennis Razayeski of Baron Advertising in Cleveland wrote, "Stock is growing

because it is readily available. Quality continues to be excellent and the

volumes continue to increase each year. I have had to discard and give away

many fine volumes -- I simply have no more space in my office to keep them.

Currently, I must have at lease 75 to 100 different stock catalogs."

Linda Carpenter of Frank J. Corbett Inc. in Chicago wrote, "Stock photography

images still need more "single item" type shots. There is also a need for

pictures of people with different emotions -- not only happy but also

concerned, worried, depressed, neutral, angry, etc. I like the move toward

conceptual shots. I have found a couple of great nature companies as well as

a couple of agents specific to medical and scientific images -- great


Marc Lagamba of Highmark Inc in Pittsburgh wrote, "One problem that I've

constantly encountered when using stock photography is the lack of minorities

(Black, Hispanic, and Asian). Believe it or not, I have in real life seen

Asians strolling on the beach...Hispanics attending a business meeting...and

Blacks enjoying a cup of coffee in a cafe. I agree that most stock photo

agencies have recently made efforts to include more minorities in their

selections, but I still see room for improvement."

And Adele Kingan, Creative Connection in Highland Park, IL wrote, "I use

stock over assignment photography 6:1, where that was reversed five years


Copyright © 1998 Jim Pickerell. The above article may not be copied, reproduced, excerpted or distributed in any manner without written permission from the author. All requests should be submitted to Selling Stock at 10319 Westlake Drive, Suite 162, Bethesda, MD 20817, phone 301-461-7627, e-mail: wvz@fpcubgbf.pbz

Jim Pickerell is founder of, an online newsletter that publishes daily. He is also available for personal telephone consultations on pricing and other matters related to stock photography. He occasionally acts as an expert witness on matters related to stock photography. For his current curriculum vitae go to:  


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