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<Artville’s the place>

By Daniel Will-Harris 

4-13-98 - Back before the web and CD-ROMs (not that long ago, really), if you wanted a professional illustration or photograph, you called a professional illustrator. You found them through books like “graphic annuals,” big glossy books published regularly, each page featuring the work of a particular illustrator. Professional magazines and publishers still use these books to commission art for their publications.

But if your budget doesn’t allow for custom commissions, you still can afford to use the work of some of the best professional designers from around the world. A company called Artville makes it possible, with the highest-quality illustrations I’ve ever seen on CD.

Artville’s illustrators and photographers come from all over the world, and their commissioned work appears everywhere from The New York Times to Time magazine.

>Artists, direct

Artville works directly with artists to create a CD that contains one main theme in that one artist’s style. This is great for you, because it means you get a series of images that really work together—sticking to a single artist in a single publication can give it a more cohesive, polished, professional look and Artville makes that easy.

With over 120 titles, and new ones added quarterly, the range of styles and themes is impressive, ranging from cartoony to collage, computery to classically elegant. From simple photos of useful objects to some of the most beautiful landscape photos I’ve ever seen on CD. The styles are all unique and “personal” to the artist, which is an exciting break from so much stock-art that can tend to look impersonal or bland.

Each CD contains at least 50 illustrations or photos, each in three resolutions: low for the web, medium for print, and 28-35MB high-res images for the highest quality of output. CDs cost from $59.95 to $349.95, depending on the title. One of their least expensive, “Natural Alphabets botanicals,” by The Carltons, is also one of my favorites:

Artville botanical alphabetnature_alpha_Lnature_alpha_4 

>Web site and starter kit

Artville has an excellent web site where you can search for and see samples of every piece of art they offer—plus save small thumbnail images for “comping” (low-res layout). But the best way to really appreciate the quality of their art is to buy their “starter kit” for $29.95. This includes an attractive binder, full-color printouts of every image on every one of their CDs, plus a CD that contains every one of those images in low-res JPG format (perfect for comping). The whole kit is so beautifully put together, its well worth the price.

The art is “royalty free,” which means that once you buy the CD you can use it, without paying royalties, in most of your work. (Like almost all good stock illustrations, even the “royalty-free” kinds have restrictions, meaning you must pay extra to use an illustration on a book cover, greeting card, t-shirt, coffee mug, or other item where “the graphic itself is a significant part of the product.” That’s understandable, and the rates are reasonable. For details on these kinds of projects call 800-631-7808 or 608-243-1215)

>Good for you, good for artists

I like that Artville is as good to its artists as to its customers. Artists are paid royalties for each copy of the CD you buy, like book authors. Artville uses a traditional “book publisher” model for artists, which is a refreshing change of pace from other companies that just give an artist a one-time “work for hire” fee (a deal I don’t recommend anyone accept except under special circumstances).

There are a lot of places to buy stock art today, but Artville is the best of the ones I’ve seen. It’s a perfect way to add professional-caliber artwork to your projects. It really can make the difference between something looking OK, and something looking as polished and professional as it can possibly be.

Since talking about art is not unlike trying to describe a color or a typeface, I’m going to stop talking and use the bandwidth I save to show you images from the collection, as taken directly from the starter kit. Note the variety of styles and topics--and there are hundreds more where these came from!

Artville - gold boullion 

From Artville’s Money and Finance by Sphotospin









From Artville’s “The Earth’s Palette” by Don Bishop


From Artville’s “Cottage Still Life” by Kris Wiltse


From Artville’s “Global Enterprise” by Robin Jareaux


From Artville’s “Animal Icons” by Donna Ikkanda


From Artville’s “Business Constructions” by Russell Thurston


From Artville’s ”Herbs” by Quarto, Inc.

Technology Jungle 

From Artville’s ”Technology” by Ingo Fast

ArtVille: 2130 Darwin Road, Madison, WI 53704; 800-631-7808; 608-243-1215; www.artville.com -- Truly fine illustrations on CD-ROM from some of the best-known illustrators in the world


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Daniel Will-Harris is a designer and author whose work can be found at http://www.will-harris.com. His site features TypoFile Magazine and Esperfonto, the web’s only typeface selection system. He may be reached via e-mail.

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Copyright Daniel Will-Harris, 2001, All Rights Reserved