Where to Find Free Images to Create Your Own Art

Did you know that there are tons of resources online to find free images and create art for your home? Or your office or wherever you’re looking for art! Follow along and let me share a few spots that you’re going to want to check out!

Awhile back we were looking for some images to use for an art project. While I don’t mind paying for art to hang on my walls I didn’t really want to spend a lot of money on this particular project so I started researching online.

Guess what I found?

There are several places that you can find free art to download online.

You can even print it on your own printer if you’re going with a paper size or smaller. But you can have it printed on architect paper at an office supply and then you’ll get larger pieces of art at a bargain basement price!

So what started as looking for art for cards turned into finding some amazing wall art and I want to share it with you!

Find Free Images Online

The first place I’m going to share is the New York Public Library.

This is an amazing resource that has thousands of vintage images that are in the public domain.

The key to them being free is that they are public domain images!

Before I go any further we need to talk about what the public domain is.

What Are Public Domain Images?

The public domain includes images that have no known copyright.

The reason so many of these are vintage prints is that the copyright has expired or was never filed for the original art.

What this really means is that you can use the art without having to pay for it!

Copyright.gov explains the public domain as follows: “A work of authorship is in the “public domain” if it is no longer under copyright protection or if it failed to meet the requirements for copyright protection. Works in the public domain may be used freely without the permission of the former copyright owner.” 

To be sure, I’m not a lawyer so if you’re planning to sell these images the research is on you. But if you’re planning to print them for personal use you should be just fine!

The New York Public Library Digital Collection!

You’re definitely going to want to have some time on your hands for this deep dive! Once you start searching you’ll be amazed at what you’ll find.

There are tens of thousands of images on this site.

I’m not even kidding.

There are sketches and drawings and watercolors.

There are flowers and waterfalls and animals.

There are florals and holidays and medical images.

Oh my!

If you have an idea of what you’re searching for you’re going to want to use a lot of keywords in the search box but if you just want flowers, well, be prepared.

Be sure that when you’re searching on this site that you check the box that says “show only public domain” so that it will filter those for you.

This is an amazing resource if you’re a fan of vintage images.

If vintage images aren’t your jam then keep going because we’ve got a few more for you!

How to Use Your Free Images

Once you download your images there’s no end to what you can do with them!

When you click on the image it will tell you what size they’re available in so take note that a few of them won’t be high resolution enough to make giant images.

But you can make:

  • Art
  • Notecards
  • Postcards
  • Screen Savers
  • Stickers
  • Social Media

We were initially searching for art for cards but I love the idea of using the images to make a gallery wall.

Especially after I saw vintage books that had the pages torn out and they were selling for $95 each.

Yes, per page. Wowza!

Just know that this might take you off on a rabbit hole. Once you start this process you know how it can get distracting and one thing leads to another. And another. And another.

Other Sites to Find Free Images

The New York Public Library isn’t the only source to find images in the public domain.

To be sure it’s a huge resource but a few others are a little more streamlined to their subjects so if you’re looking for space, forests or nature check these out!

Also note that not all public domain images are vintage.

Lots of government websites have images and other media that are copyright free and available to use. They are intended for education mostly, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t admire them as art!

Side note – when you’re searching online for free images, be sure that you understand the rules to each site.  They are all organized differently and have various rules associated. If you are using the images for your own personal use you are probably fine but it’s up to you to know the rules.  I’m just sharing the information, not the liability!


NASA’s website offers access to many of their images, audio files, videos and other media, which are generally not copyrighted and freely available for use.  The link will take you to their media policy and you can click on the Gallery tab to start searching.

They have upgraded to an app and there are backgrounds that you can use for selfies too!

If you need a space background for your zoom meeting you can get real ones right here!

There are some amazing satellite photos and loads of great information for anyone interested in space and space exploration.

Jupiter Image - Looks like a freestyle painting - via NASA - a great place to find free images online to use as art in your home
via NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Kevin M. Gill

This image looks like an abstract painting to me, but it’s the surface of Jupiter. 

I think it would be fun to print this on a sticker and make a table top or a tile out of it.

I’m not sure what I’m going to use it for yet, but I’m hanging on to it anyway!

U.S. Department of Agriculture Image Gallery

When you click through to this site it will take you to the information about the gallery. There’s another button that explains the copyright information so be sure to check that out.

You’ll find images about food, farming and insects on this site.

Many of these images were taken for the government which means that most of them are included in the public domain. The images with copyrights are marked so it’s easy to see which is which.

If you like cute baby animals you’ll find plenty of them here!

Yellow Oyster Mushroom
Yellow Oyster, Pleurotus citrino-pileatus, mushrooms

This is a mushroom! Can you believe that? I thought it was a flower when I first saw it!

US Fish and Wildlife Service Digital Media Library

I bet you’ll never guess what you can find here!

If you guessed fish and wildlife, well I guess the title gave it away!

You can easily search this library and find free photos, sketches and maps.  The database is easy to search by keyword or collection, or if you’re looking for a specific photographer or author.

Snowy Egret from the Public Domain
Snowy Egret

Wikimedia Commons

Wikimedia Commons is a huge repository of images.  It also contains music and video. 

The main page will take you right to the photo and media of the day so it’s a great place to start.

You’ll need to create an account and review the rules on this site.

The difference here is that wikimedia owns almost none of the content so each image has to be checked because virtually anyone can add to these images.

Many of these are free to use but they may also have different requirements so it may take a bit more time to search for images.

You can find anything, and I do mean anything on here.

If you’re like me and just browsing it can be overwhelming but if you’re looking for something in particular you can filter it down and find tons of images.

All you have to do to get started here is type what you’re searching for in the search box.  It will usually bring up a menu of items to filter down exactly what you’re looking for.

This is a great site to use if you know exactly what you’re looking for and you’ve got some time to spend searching.

Decorative staircase - example of art found on Wikimedia Commons
Svenska: Trappgatan leder upp med sina 129 trappsteg till Skolgatan på Gnestahöjden. år 2012 dekorerades trappan av elever från Frejaskolan i projektet “Mitt Gnesta”

Click HERE to read the license for the previous image!

Wikipedia Public Domain Image Resources

This is the link to the image use policy if you find images on Wikipedia.

This is an exhaustive list of places to find images. Not all the images are public domain, it’s more a list of other links to find them.

Many of these are divided by category so you can search them but there are tons of results.

You’ll have to dig through images, dig through other websites and then check the rules for each site you find.

This is not my favorite place to find images but it is a great resource so it’s definitely one that you’ll want to keep in mind.

There You Have It

These are not the only places to find free images I’m sure, but if you’ve found another great site let me know in the comments below and I’ll add it to the list.

These are some of my favorite places to search so I just wanted to share them with all of you!

If you enjoyed this you might also want to check out:

Be sure to follow me on Instagram, TikTok and Pinterest for more inspiration!

Traci Signature | My Simpatico Life Blog

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