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Visual Arts: Finding images

An overview of the library resources and services relevant to all the visual arts (including glass/glazing, graphic design, illustration, jewellery)

The benefit of going to individual collections is that images have consistent descriptions and categories. For instance, you'll often have info about the artist, when it was created, what materials were used, as well as consistent keywords or categories that make it easier to browse.

Remember to check the copyright statement before using images. Some of the collections listed on this page contain images that are in the public domain (that is, out of copyright).

Check out the Visual Literacy libguide for info on how to citing and attribution.


Copyright means that the owner of the creative work has the exclusive rights over how their work is communicated or reproduced. In order to ethically communicate or reproduce their work you need permission, either directly or through a license.

Are there exceptions? Yes!

  • The work is in the Public Domain (out of copyright)
  • The author has outlined the usage rights through Creative Commons Licensing
  • Use of the work is permitted under one of the exceptions in the Copyright Act (Fair Dealing for study or research).

Students are encouraged to find and use Creative Commons &  Public Domain resources. The Copyright exception for study only allows for a small amount of a work to be reproduced. It is also good practice for when you are no longer studying.

Other image collections

Public domain & creative commons image databases:

Citing & attribution

Just as you add a reference when you directly quote or even paraphrase a resource – you should always acknowledge where you got an image! This means you should always add a citation or attribution.

When to use a...




Any images you use for a scholarly work.

Use the appropriate referencing style (Harvard or APA) for your course.

When a specific referencing style is not required. 

Examples can include presentations.

Citing images:
Refer to ERNI Easy Referencing and follow the style guidelines.

Attribution is generally ordered by Title, Author, Source, License. While there is not standard style guide for attributions, it is important to be consistent. For example, the use punctuation marks to separate attribution elements should be consistent. If the image is being displayed electronically, then much of the information can be hyperlinked: the author/creator linked to their profile, the title of the work linked to the website and the license linked to the license deed. 

Check out the below links for more info on creating attributions: