Sourcing vector art - broadway streetscape

Discussion in 'Design and Graphics' started by rainman::|:|, May 14, 2009.

  1. rainman::|:| macrumors 603


    Feb 2, 2002
    Hey all--

    Having trouble finding some vector art for a project I'm doing, a broadway themed AIDS benefit. I need a stylized streetscape of Broadway, with buildings and signs, similar to the attached image. It can be both sides of the street or just one side - I'll wind up changing the sign text to things like "hope" and "support." It seems like a pretty simple image, I've spent hours not finding it! I'm a designer, not an illustrator, so I don't want to recreate it... And I have a very small budget to deal with.

    It'll need to be reproduced very small and very large, so vector is the way to go...

    Can anyone help? Much appreciated :)

  2. efxgraphx macrumors member

    Feb 24, 2009
    Sugar Land, TX
  3. RickDeckard macrumors newbie

    Oct 13, 2007
    Okay, so you'll have to forgive me a bit, I'm not trying to sound like a jerk, but it may come off that way. I do freelance design, but I'm not a real Graphic Designer (with a degree, or a real job, that is). I was on my way to a B.A. in Graphic Design degree before I got sidetracked by getting married, having kids, etc.. My real job is doing prepress for a medium sized Screen Printing / Digital Printing company.

    So, you're a designer, not an illustrator, that just boggles my mind. Whatever education you got, whatever teacher you had, that told you designers don't create art they just reuse other people's art, ripped you off. You got scammed buddy, big time. That is a crummy, lazy attitude.

    A designer is an Artist who, generally, creates their own art, develops their own style, makes their own mark. They don't search the web for hours to find someone else's art to reuse (likely without crediting the original artist, or licensing it). They search the web to find ideas for creating their own art, to make their own, original version.

    The best designers I know, whom I also used to work with, were artists first (excellent artists) and designers second. Granted, at the time, we were a high volume printing company, so yes, they used clipart occasionally. But mostly they created their own art, from scratch, by hand (yes, with real pens, pencils, paints, and real paper) and by using Illustrator and Photoshop equally. They have my utmost respect as artists and designers, and I would not hesitate to work with them again.

    So I'll say it again, a Designer is an Artist who needs to know how to create, not just reuse. And for crying out loud, learn how to use your software! Not just the way they taught you in school, but really learn how, when, why to use it!

    I may sound like a bitter prepress guy (most of us are), but I have dealt with so many slacker "Designers" over the years, that it's just silly. The crap we get sometimes makes my jaw drop, and a little bit of my soul dies. Please, all you wanna be designers out there, get a job in prepress for a while after school. You will learn more in a year or two on the job than you learned the entire time in school, I guarantee it. And be nice to your prepress guys, they know a lot more than you think (and likely, more than you do).
  4. jecapaga macrumors 601


    Jul 1, 2007
    Southern California

    Mostly excellent advice there I say. I agree, I think every graduate should have to spend time doing an internship or something in prepress. For it is only there where you will find out how to take what you've created on screen to the press and paper. I wouldn't be surprised if 8 out of 10 jobs that come across a prepress job's desk has vital mistakes.

    But to say that a designer should also be an illustrator or painter is really going in the wrong direction. Designers deal with visual communication and don't necessarily need to be a master of all. Should they also be expert photographers? Because that is also another important aspect that is involved in the job. Stock art saves time and money and there is a lot of really good stuff available. There is also a ton of crap available. Plus you can manipulate it and then use your design/illustration chops to satisfy the job at hand. Point is: use it when the job calls for it.
  5. gregtuco macrumors newbie

    May 20, 2009
    Taos, NM
    Yes, it's already a very simple, high contrast image. If you have legal use of this image (permission from the author, royalty free, etc.) it would be a simple matter of placing it in Illustrator and tracing over it with your pen tool. It really doesn't take much illustrative ability to recreate it. More often than not, the time spent looking for camera ready image is better spent modifying (beyond recognition or not) a rough image/idea of something that you have available to you.

    As much as I disagree with some of RickDeckard's opinions, I have to agree with his comment about learning one's tools. This is basically a simple trace job, provided you have free use of this image OR can reasonably manipulate it beyond recognition.

    To expand on jecapaga's point, I'll reprint part of a post I made on a similar thread that is also raging in this forum, "What the Hell is Graphic Design Anyways!?!":

    I have known a few great designers who could barely draw a straight line, but had the innate sense of proportion, placement, and color that allowed them to create visuals that would rivet your eyes to whatever they did. They didn't have to be good draftsmen, they were great "visual thinkers" [with a reasonable level of craftmanship to realize their vision].

    I have also known great draftsmen, people who would blow you away in a life drawing class, but struggled in the basic elements of design and composition. They couldn't "see" beyond the beautiful lines that came out of their graphite sticks. Unless the scene was set for them (a posed model, still life, landscape, etc.) they were pretty much at a loss for an idea. This is nothing against them, they were great craftsmen/artisans in there own right.

    I am thoroughly convinced that one can be a great designer without being a great draftsman, but rarely [if ever] can one be a great illustrator without a great sense of design. Look at anything from the "Golden Age of Illustration", N.C. Wyeth, J.C. Leyendecker, Norman Rockwell and the great Maxfield Parrish, to name just a few. There was an almost mathematical precision to everything they did, in some cases, outright genius. Throughout history, the same principals of creativity apply, not just "what it should be" but "how it should be"– the blending of great craft and a great design [idea]. In other words, great art.

    To be a great designer AND a great artist/illustrator is obviously the IDEAL, but I have as much respect for the pure designers as I do for great illustrators, and by great illustrators, I mean people in the class of those I mentioned above (past AND present), not mere great DRAFTSMEN, of which I could name many, but won't for the sake of avoiding that debate. (Great DRAFTSMEN are kept busy enough cranking out product for the stock imagery business.)

    I've spent my time in prepress, and time well spent it was. I'm a better designer/illustrator for it. The only people crabbier (or bitter) than prepress types are the pressmen they have to answer to! I used to make plates and composite Yellow Pages phonebooks for web press, and anyone who manned a light table would cringe whenever a pressman walked into the stripping area with a proof in his hand!

    I'll say it again, the rock stars in our business are the ones who have THE IDEA (first), and the wherewithal to execute it, (second).
  6. Jim Campbell macrumors 6502a

    Jim Campbell

    Dec 6, 2006
    A World of my Own; UK
    Well, I can draw ... both in an illustrative and technical style, and I can do both either on paper or on a computer.

    Do you know how many illustrations I have produced as part of a paying design? None. Because the client either invariably wasn't willing to pay for the additional work producing an illustration, or hadn't left the time to do one even if I wanted to.

    The client wants the job cheap and wants it tomorrow, you're damn right they're getting clip art!


  7. SwiftLives macrumors 65816


    Dec 7, 2001
    Charleston, SC
    I respectfully disagree. I consider graphic design to be a subset of art. Not everyone who is an artist is a graphic designer, and not every graphic designer is an artist. At it's core, design is absolutely nothing more than the purposeful placement of information.

    That being said, having a background in art is certainly not a hindrance to graphic design. Personally speaking, I'm in a bit of a creative rut right now, so I'm branching out into both painting and letterpress - two areas which I hope will give me a different perspective on design and get me out of this rut.

    Let me put it another way. Even though designers don't have to be artists, there's absolutely no reason for a designer to limit him or herself.
  8. RickDeckard macrumors newbie

    Oct 13, 2007
    I apologize if any of my post offended anyone, that was not my intention. I guess I don't really know what my intention was, other than to blow off some steam. Sorry guys.

    I guess I was spoiled, working with some very talented people that did it all; design, art, illustration. My assumption was (there I go, assuming again), that Graphic Design was a specialization of art. You had to have good art skills to even get a chance to go in to G.D.

    The school that I was attending before life caught up with me, was set up that way. You had to take a core set of art foundations classes first. Then you had a faculty review of your portfolio. The art/design teachers looked at your work and decided whether you were approved to get into the G.D. program. My assumption comes from there, and from the artists/designers I've worked with in the past.

    I didn't mean that I thought you had to be a master illustrator, painter, sculpture, photographer to become a G.D. I was just using examples, again, of the people I was lucky to work with. But I do think you need to have a good, solid set of artistic skills before you should even want to get into any art related field.

    I have no problems with using stock photos, I think they are a very necessary part of the field, just like I don't have a problem with using clipart. But us prepress guys can tell when you use clipart, even if the customer can't :) Just make sure you know how to manipulate it when your customer asks you to make changes, or to change the color of the model's shirt, or whiten that guy's teeth, or change that wonderful gradient in the background.

    And please, send us your layered, native, Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign files, don't flatten them first. You just hamstring the printers when you flatten the files. It messes up the transparencies and snazzy fuzzy effects you can do. We don't all have automated trapping software.

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