How to find a public domain image that's similar to a copyrighted piece?
July 2, 2012 1:11 PM   Subscribe

Help me find a public domain drawing like this one

I've fallen for the drawing that accompanies this article (the gentleman with the mustache and the gears-for-brains).

I'd like to use it for a project, but unfortunately, it doesn't appear to be in the public domain. So I'm hoping to find a similar image—line drawing, vintage futurism, mind-as-machine—without the copyright restrictions. (Creative Commons would be fine, too.)

Bonus points for techniques or resources to handle this scenario in the future.
posted by morninj to Media & Arts (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Max Ernst collages? Hannah Hoch... maybe this site will have something you can use.
posted by snaparapans at 1:28 PM on July 2, 2012

Looks to me like a combination of clip art.
posted by Ideefixe at 1:38 PM on July 2, 2012

I'm assuming you know the usual suspects, but I always direct people to this list [do a reality check of your own first also] for a first pass and you can narrow down by type. I just gave a talk to educators about how to find free and public domain images which I've linked in my profile which has some more options. One of the best ways to get started if there is a specific image you're attached to, is just to ask. If the project is small scale and not a money-maker, sometimes people are receptive to just a good backlink and a credit. Not always but it's worth asking in any case as part of your overall toolkit.
posted by jessamyn at 1:39 PM on July 2, 2012 [3 favorites]

If you don't find exactly what you need, you could do the collage yourself (tips from Eugenia Loli), from images that are in the public domain (pre-1923) or under a compatible Creative Commons licence. Head from slightly up + something mechanical from a similar angle gives you two reasonably broad search queries.
posted by Tobu at 1:53 PM on July 2, 2012 [2 favorites]

Dover Books do some wonderful compilations of copyright-free vintage imagery,
many of them featuring this sort of late-Victorian engraving. They publish books and also digitised collections.

Have a browse here, and I particularly recommend this: (Harter's Picture Archive for Collage and Illustration) as a source of the sort of image you posted. Sorry if my links aren't quite right.

Yes the books and/or CDs cost money but they are an incredibly rich resource, and the images are copyright-free to use. They are a great company and deserve support, and are currently going through difficulties, I believe. My Dover books are precious, I snap them up whenever I find them, which is quite rarely in British bookshops. Thank goodness for the internet! I've been collecting them since the 70's.
posted by glasseyes at 2:12 PM on July 2, 2012

Oh, and, if you find the Dover archives in colleges or libraries, you would be ok to use the art, I think. So I recommend again Harter's Picture Archive for Collage and Illustration.

Sorry for the way I've messed up my posts.
posted by glasseyes at 2:19 PM on July 2, 2012

Along the lines of what Tobu said, it may be easier and lots more fun to make your own collage. Then you can get pretty much exactly what you want. Lot's of resources listed in the thread.
posted by snaparapans at 2:44 PM on July 2, 2012

If you can find out who made the illustration, you could write and ask them if they are willing to grant usage. I've had people contact me on Flickr asking for permission to use my work, and I think I've always said yes.
posted by hermitosis at 3:42 PM on July 2, 2012

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