One of my very favorite blogs, The Painted Hive, featured a gorgeous framed Audobon flamingo print that Kristine downloaded, had printed, and framed herself. She included a link to the site where she got the art: The Audubon Society very generously offers high-resolution downloads of the beautiful bird art featured in James John Audubon’s body of work. I loved the flamingo print she chose so much I just totally copied her.
This is a 24X28 print and it turned out so gorgeously (I can say that since I had very little to do with it). I could have made it even larger had I a bigger frame — the files are enormous and I had to scale this down quite a bit to fit even in this large frame.
Kristen also linked to two other useful sites: Plant Illustrations (just what it sounds like) and the BioDiversity Heritage Library, where she found some gorgeous John Gould illustrations. I downloaded this one that I’m going to use next:
Can you tell I have a thing for birds?
Some other great sites for downloading public domain materials:
Group the documents at the New York Public Library by genre and you’ll be lost for hours looking at their offerings.
(And holy moley, I just found the fashion design files!)
or these amazing photos from the Apollo mission).
(You’ll need to visit the original source for these files to get a high res version; link can be found on that website.)
I think a framed series of these mug shots would be amazing for a more edgy decor. From the description: “This special photograph selection were mostly taken at the Central Police Station, Sydney and compared with the subjects of typical prison mug shots, the subjects of the Special Photographs seem to have been allowed to compose themselves for the camera as they wanted.”
The British Library has uploaded a ton of images to their Flickr stream. The organization is pretty unwieldy, and you have to have a Flickr account to download (not that hard to sign up), but the file sizes are decent and they have some gorgeous images.
And don’t forget about The Graphics Fairy for a treasure trove of sweet vintage illustrations.
This is just scratching the surface — if you Google “royalty free images,” “public domain images,” or “copyright free images,” you could spend hours going through the sites generated. A few things: first, if your planning on creating anything with these images that you plan on selling, make sure you’re clear on the terms of the site (for the most part, everything I’ve linked is in the public domain, so you shouldn’t have any issues). Second, many of these sites offer differently sized versions of each file — if you’re planning on printing these out, always download the largest file size available. (And once downloaded, do not try to print out larger than the actual file size — you’ll be disappointed with the quality.) And third, some of these files need some altering (to fit your frame size, for example) or cleaning up (to trim the edges or remove artifacts).
So get out there to your thrift store, grab some frames, and get busy! There’s enough material out there to allow us to have gallery walls on every blank space in our houses.