An annual survey of 1,008 Graphic Design USA (GDUSA) readers shows the use of stock imagery today is greater than ever. The survey, which the magazine has been doing for 25 years, shows that 96 percent of designers use stock imagery in their work and 60 percent use stock at least 20 times a year. Both represent new highs in the survey.
The survey also showed that 78 percent of GDUSA readers believe graphic design had a major role in creating the Barack Obama brand, 74 percent voted for Obama in 2008 and 62 percent say the President is currently meeting or exceeding their expectations.
From a technology standpoint, 25 percent of designers now develop content for digital media for more than half of their projects, and that most have a fairly sophisticated understanding of the technical details and concessions that must be made when creating online material. At the same time, designers believe ageism is becoming a serious factor in their industry.
80 percent of the respondents believe ageism exists in graphic design firms and that older workers are being pushed out of the business. An astonishing 30 percent of designers believe ageism becomes a factor starting at age 45. Not keeping up with technology and contemporary culture were cited as the two greatest contributing factors.
"Looking back at the past quarter century, our industry has gone through tremendous evolution, which has largely been driven by technology," said Gordon Kaye, editor and publisher of GDUSA. "While technology has freed designers from many arduous tasks - and has allowed the stock imagery industry to flourish - it is also a demanding mistress that demands constant attention and drives continuous change. Clearly there's a perception in our industry that older people might not be able to rise to that challenge."
Use of Stock
Similar to recent years, designers remain generally satisfied with the range of choices and the quality of stock imagery available today and most believe quality continues to improve. When choosing a "go to" stock agency, the most important factors are price (84 percent), quality of collections (76 percent) and ease-of-search (70 percent). Once again, many respondents pointed out a lack of originality, contemporary imagery and a need for greater diversity in cultural, ethnicity, gender and age offerings. Those same designers indicated that they are willing to pay a premium for this kind of content.
iStockphoto is the favorite/go-to microstock agency
50% of designers who have a preference use iStock
Designers use a mix of rights managed and royalty free images
Rights managed - 32%
Royalty free - 93%
Designers spend more total dollars on royalty free images
Rights managed - 6%
Royalty free - 81%
About the same - 13%
Designers use multiple stock sites
Use only one - 11%
Use 2-3 - 47%
Use 4-9 - 31%
Use 10 or more - 11%
Top 5 categories of images used most often
Food and Beverage
Publications doing the best job at extending print design to online platforms
New York Times
Believe ageism begins to manifest itself in the design agency business
At age 55 and up - 26%
At age 50 - 34%
At age 45 - 30%
Complete survey results will be featured in the Sept 12th issue of GDUSA.