Although we recommend investing in quality designs, it’s also a good idea to have free elements and designs to complement your collection. Here are Sawgrass education manager, Jimmy Lamb’s top tips for sourcing designs.
Everyone knows one of the best ways for your product to attract attention is by having a vibrant and unique design, but not everyone considers themselves to be a designer.
No need to worry, because there are many ways to find professional free and premium designs.
Where to find free designs
Although we highly recommend investing in quality designs, it’s also a good idea to have free elements and designs to complement your collection. Even better is if you can find a free design and manipulate it in a design software (like CreativeStudio, CorelDraw or Photoshop) so that it’s unique to your shop. This can be a great way to provide original artwork without having to be a highly skilled graphic designer.
Check out sites like rawpixel and Pixabay (tip: search for your topic and select different image options so you get more than just default photographs). For stunning photography and abstract shots to use as backgrounds, head to sites like Unsplash and Pexels. Want something a little less common? Try the websites of public libraries, famous museums, or even places like NASA.
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The downside of using free images is that it often takes lots of time. Take advantage of sites that will give premium freebies in exchange for providing your email. Sites like CreativeMarket and rawpixel will regularly send out a handful of temporarily free premium images and fonts to download.
Be careful to double check the licensing on free images – some are royalty-free, meaning you can use them on your products and sell them as-is. Others are for personal use only or require you to alter the image in some way to make it your own.
Note: Do NOT use images you find via Google search – these are not free and can have legal implications if you’re caught selling one. Also, these images are usually poor quality, low resolution images that will not look good on your products so it’s not worth it.
Where to find premium (paid) designs
The biggest advantage of using premium designs is that they’re often more creative, save you time (time is money!) and give you many more options for your shop.
Some of the most popular online marketplaces like Etsy and CreativeMarket have designs for sale that say they’re specifically for sublimation. While the designs are certainly fine to use, don’t be fooled into thinking you need to pay extra for sublimation-specific designs because technically there is no such thing – you can use any design you want.
Purchasing design bundles (especially when they’re on sale) is a great way to get a lot of designs and elements of one theme, and it is much more cost-effective than purchasing single designs. Especially around special events and holidays, you can find large bundles such as Summer Sublimation Bundles from Etsy that have lots of ready-made designs. You can also get some pretty cool, unexpected elements to work with, for example just search for metallic textures on CreativeMarket for some inspiration.
If you haven’t already looked at Sofontsy, you can find Monogram Bundles, where for a low price you can get an entire alphabet filled with monograms. All you have to do is add the name, so it’s a super easy personalisation option for your store.
Keep in mind that often for the price of a single design or a design bundle, you can get a full membership in CreativeStudio. This gives you access to hundreds of additional print-ready premium designs updated every month with sublimation product templates, as well as premium features such as custom font uploading.
Adobe Stock, Shutterstock, VectorStock and other stock photo libraries offer different types of purchase plans, such as single, credits or subscription. Unlike CreativeStudio, these options are not purpose-built for product decoration so you will still need to spend a lot of time searching for the right types of designs.
Are paid designs worth the money?
In short, yes! As mentioned, purchasing design bundles or a membership will save you a lot of time and your products will look better and therefore sell better.
The best thing you can do if you’re not confident in your design skills is learning to manipulate images at least a little so that you truly have unique artwork. Purchasing a design bundle or a CreativeStudio membership is a really easy way to do this.