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					Clipart, From Pencil to Pixel
Clip art illustrates virtually every medium in the modern graphic arts.
Whether paid or free, clip art has become the stock in trade of both
amateur and professional desktop publishing. Originally, clip art
received its name from the production process. Design teams would build
scale models of a given layout as a "paste up"-that is, a larger version
of the layout that would eventually be printed. The team photographed the
paste up and used the negative to create the actual printing plate;
however, previous to this, the paste up needed some pasting up. That is
where the clip art came in.
Whenever the layout editor needed a graphic for the paste up, two options
were available: produce it or find it. In both cases, the graphic was
located separately before being cut out or "clipped" to fit the space on
the paste up. This clip art procedure carried over to the introduction of
the first desktop computers with VCN Execuvision developing a
professionally-drawn digital clipart library in 1983. Throughout the
'80's and '90's, the popularity of clipart grew to fill the increasing
need made by the rise of desktop publishing. Soon, gone were the days of
physical camera-ready paste ups-though, as with clipart, the term
persisted-and in came the days of Illustrator, PageMaker, Publisher, and
more.
Of course, clip art is intellectual property. As the areas of
distribution spread-especially with the advent of the CD-ROM in the early
1990s-clip art needed a solution to maintain its accessibility without
losing usefulness. Clipart's focus started to aim more for quantity over
quality in 1995 as T/Maker introduced a 500,000-image copyright-free
library. Because the industry relaxed its high quality standards of
clipart, copyright became less of a concern as clipart creators became
more willing to part with their art. In 1996, for example, Microsoft Word
6.0 offered clipart files as part of its program suite.
Modern clipart sprawls itself across the web, whether as decoration for a
website or as actual web content. Image and graphics libraries seem to
spring up as readily as weeds in the summer, ranging from lower-end
groupings of images to high-quality, high-volume clipart libraries. Stock
photography has also started to come into vogue as an alternative to
clipart, which is usually illustrated by hand or computer. Of the several
ways that clipart can be accessed, clipart in the public domain-where the
creator has divested her or himself of all copyright and donated the art
away-tends to be the most popular. An interesting problem arises,
however, whenever clipart in the public domain is downloaded and edited.
Technically, a person who edits clipart creates his or her own copyright
for it. More and more, though, courts and laws are working to help
facilitate the easy spread of clipart while preserving the rights of
those who want to hold on to it. Generally, image copyright gets its
lease royalty-free so that clipart users can tackle their project with
one payment and no worries. Of course, free clipart still bounces around
online and is often a viable alternative. All the way from pencils and
paste ups to photos and desktop publishing, clipart makes its mark in the
arts.
This information researched and brought to you by
http://www.UniversalClipart.com
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