A discussion in the Advertising Professional group on LinkedIn, posted by Charisse Louis of Charene Graphic Design, stirred up some unpleasant memories. She asked, "Is it OK to use clip art?" Clearly a seasoned professional, Charisse provides her learned opinion on her blog.
My answer to the question is, of course, a multi-part: "It depends."
It's certainly preferable to have a design using clip art that is well-executed and on-strategy over a design that is poorly executed, over-done. To me, it's also preferable to use clip art over a design that is well-done but is off-strategy.
Beware of spending dozens of unplanned hours looking endlessly for a great "free" or cheap image because client is budget-strapped and hasn't been managed. Of course, in the process the agency has spent $x,000 of their time looking for this "free" image.
COST & INTERNAL COMMUNICATIONS/MANAGEMENT
This scenario's my favorite:
Art Director uses non-original art or photo or content.
In the rush to complete, AM/PM, unaware, presents it to budget-strapped client.
Client loves it. And double whammy: client's boss, who never reviews work at the same time, happens to see this preso and loves it too.
- Agency, which hasn't covered this situation in it's SOW, eats the cost - This is even more exciting (triple whammy?) if the image goes live and then you learn that a licensing fee is owed, a competitor has used the same image or some other rights nightmare emerges.
Process, patience and communication. Process, patience and communication.