Where to Find Free Images to Create Your Own Art

We started trying to find free images online and were surprised at how many resources there really are that you can use. We couldn’t wait to share what we found with you!

If you are looking for places to find frees images online, the collection at the New York Public Library is an unbelievable resource.  This collection is full of thousands of vintage images that are in the public domain. 

Well it could be tens of thousands, we completely lost track when we were searching.  We lost track of time and we lost count of all the great images we found.

Heck, we might have lost our minds but that’s really subjective.

This is a great resource for fans of vintage images – raise your hand and join us!  Whoot Whoot!

Go search the New York Public Library Digital Collection!

We started off browsing just to pick out a few images to share with you, and then we looked up later to realize that we had spent an hour and picked out so many images.  Insert a sheepish grin here while we are considering all the ways to use these!

This collection is just mind boggling.  There are so many drawings and sketches to find and each search turns up new treasures.

We narrowed down a selection of spring botanicals for you here! You’re welcome!

Free Botanical Printables for Spring by WildflowersAndWanderlust.com

Oh and don’t worry, we will be sharing more for you, you can be sure of that! 

There are so many great images that we are working on putting then into smaller collections.  And we’ve got some projects in the works too so you’ll have some great ideas on how to use them!

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What is a Public Domain Image?

First let’s talk about what a public domain image actually is.

The public domain designation means that these images have no known US copyright. 

What this means for you is that you may print and use these images at no cost. 

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.” 

Now to be sure, not all the images in this collection are public domain, but thousands of them are. 

Yes, literally, thousands. 

When you search the New York Public Library you can click the box that says “Show Only Public Domain” and it will filter those.  Once you find a photo you can scroll down to see what sizes it’s available in and pick the size of the file you want to download.

Of course once you download the image there’s no end to what you can do with it. 

Just a few ideas on how to use these at home or work:

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

You can use these to create a gallery wall or postcards or a screen saver for your computer. You can really use these for all kinds of projects.

Be prepared to invest a lot of time in this process though. Once you find something you like it leads to another and another, and well, you know the drill.  

More Sites to Find Free Images

Of course the New York Public Library isn’t the only place to find great images that are in the public domain, but it is such a huge resource that we feel like we’ve barely scratched the surface.

Not all the public domain images are going to be vintage either, so we’ve included a list of places to find a few others that might interest you!

Many government websites also have all forms of media that are not copyrighted and are freely available for use so that’s a great place to start.  Here are a few to check out.

Side note – when you’re searching online for free images, be sure that you know the rules to each site.  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.  These site’s all have copyright information readily available for you!


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.

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 - so amazing | WildlfowersAndWanderlust.com
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.  This was taken from the Juno Spacecraft in February 2019 and is a great example of finding images that you might not expect.

Wikipedia Public Domain Image Resources

Wikipedia maintains a page of online resources for finding public domain images and other content online. While not all of the sites include exclusively public domain images, this is a list of places to look for images.  Once again, be sure to read about how the images are designated before you decide to use them.

Most of these are divided by category to search, but the results can be overwhelming, so it’s not one of our favorites.  It’s still a great resource if you are looking for something specific though.

U.S. Department of Agriculture Image Gallery

The United States Department of Agriculture maintains a database of images about farming, insects and food; among other things. 

Since these images were mostly taken for the government, almost all of them are in the public domain. The images that aren’t are marked so that makes it a bit easier. Most of the images are hosted on flickr but I have found it’s easier to start my search directly from a section of their website. 

There are lots of cute baby animal photo’s for sure!

Cowboy photo | WildflowersAndWanderlust.com
via Steve Ausmus, USDA/ARS

Wikimedia Commons

Wikimedia Commons is a huge repository of images.  It also contains music, and video.  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 you will need to click on each one to find the information.  So while we love the fact that we can find anything, literally a picture of anything, here, it’s a more time consuming process to search.

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.

Puente Colgante | WildflowersAndWanderlust.com
via Wikimedia

US Fish and Wildlife Service Digital Media Library

Guess what kinds of images you’ll find here? 

Yep, fish and wildlife. 

You can easily search this library and find photos, sketches and maps.  The database is easy to search by keyword or collection.

I'iwii bird | WildflowersAndWanderlust.com

There are so many more places to find free images but these are our favorites so far. 

Do you have a resource that we need to check out?  We’re always looking for a great place to find free images so let us know in the comments below so we can check it out, and be sure to save the pin so you’ll have this for future reference!

Follow us on Pinterest and on Instagram for lot’s more ideas and inspiration!

Pin It | WildflowersandWanderlust.com
Great Places to find Free photos and images that you can download | WildlfowersAndWanderlust.com

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One Comment

  1. Pretty! This was a really wonderful post. Thank you for providing these details.

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