5 Free Art Reference Resources you Need to Know About

The Internet is full of beautiful photos, but with this comes a minefield of legal copyright risk. Using a random photo you like in your artwork as a whole or even in part may land you with fees and diminish your reputation. It is possible to photograph your own reference photos for your artwork, but you may not have access to everything you’re envisioning for your piece. Fortunately, there are several websites dedicated to helping to solve this dilemma for artists.

Here are five resources that you can use to find free high-quality stock photos with no copyright restrictions.



Pixabay has over 970,000 free high-quality images that can be downloaded without an account.

There’s a good chance you’ll find exactly what you’re looking for either through the search bar or by browsing by category. The website’s ease of use makes it fun to start building a collection of favorites. Not only does Pixabay include stock photography, but illustrations and some videos as well.




Full of gorgeous photography, it’s really hard to believe that they’re all free. Photos are all under Creative Commons Zero, which means that you can use them for both personal and commercial purposes without needing permission or attribution.

You can even join with a free account that will suggest types of photos that you would like and you can also save them in folders (kind of like Pinterest).


Death to the Stock Photo


Sign up to receive free beautiful photos every month in your inbox. Perfect if you’re not looking for anything in particular – just something inspiring.

There also is a paid service where you get access to all the photos on the website for $15 a month.




Looking for photos with a touch of humor and surrealism? Gratisography photos are all taken by Ryan McGuire and are free to download and use on your personal and commercial projects. It’s updated every week with new photos.




Photos are all taken by Viktor Hanacek and are free to use for both commercial and personal projects. There is the option to search by keywords and categories. Picjumbo is Viktor’s full-time job which means new photos are being added frequently.

There is also a premium account available for $10 a month, which allows you access to even more photos.

There are many more websites out there that offer similar services. What are your favorites? 

Happy hunting!

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