iStock Sponsored GDUSA Survey Reveals Interesting Stock Image Findings


GDUSA Reader Survey Reveals Strong Support for President Obama, a Belief That Old Age Begins as Early as Age 45 and Continued Growth in the Use of Stock Imagery Among Designers

New York, NY, August 24, 2011 – An annual survey of 1,008 Graphic Design USA (GDUSA) readers shows the use of stock imagery today is greater than ever. The survey, which the magazine has been doing for 25 years, shows that 96 percent of designers use stock imagery in their work and 60 percent use stock at least 20 times a year. Both represent new highs in the survey.

Beach toys

Beach toys - © Trout55 | iStockphoto

The survey also showed that 78 percent of GDUSA readers believe graphic design had a major role in creating the Barack Obama brand, 74 percent voted for Obama in 2008 and 62 percent say the President is currently meeting or exceeding their expectations.

From a technology standpoint, 25 percent of designers now develop content for digital media for more than half of their projects, and that most have a fairly sophisticated understanding of the technical details and concessions that must be made when creating online material. At the same time, designers believe ageism is becoming a serious factor in their industry.

80 percent of the respondents believe ageism exists in graphic design firms and that older workers are being pushed out of the business. An astonishing 30 percent of designers believe ageism becomes a factor starting at age 45. Not keeping up with technology and contemporary culture were cited as the two greatest contributing factors.

Looking back at the past quarter century, our industry has gone through tremendous evolution, which has largely been driven by technology,” said Gordon Kaye, editor and publisher of GDUSA. “While technology has freed designers from many arduous tasks – and has allowed the stock imagery industry to flourish – it is also a demanding mistress that demands constant attention and drives continuous change. Clearly there’s a perception in our industry that older people might not be able to rise to that challenge.

Use of Stock

Similar to recent years, designers remain generally satisfied with the range of choices and the quality of stock imagery available today and most believe quality continues to improve. When choosing a “go to” stock agency, the most important factors are price (84 percent), quality of collections (76 percent) and ease-of-search (70 percent). Once again, many respondents pointed out a lack of originality, contemporary imagery and a need for greater diversity in cultural, ethnicity, gender and age offerings. Those same designers indicated that they are willing to pay a premium for this kind of content.

Additional Findings:

iStockphoto is the favorite/go-to microstock agency

· 50% of designers who have a preference use iStock

Designers use a mix of rights managed and royalty free images

· Rights managed – 32%

· Royalty free – 93%

Designers spend more total dollars on royalty free images

· Rights managed – 6%

· Royalty free – 81%

· About the same – 13%

Designers use multiple stock sites

· Use only one – 11%

· Use 2-3 – 47%

· Use 4-9 – 31%

· Use 10 or more – 11%

Top 5 categories of images used most often

· People

· Business/industry

· Lifestyle

· Abstracts/backgrounds/concepts

· Food and Beverage

Publications doing the best job at extending print design to online platforms

· Wired

· Martha Stewart

· New York Times

· Oprah

· National Geographic

Believe ageism begins to manifest itself in the design agency business

· At age 55 and up – 26%

· At age 50 – 34%

· At age 45 – 30%

This year’s survey was sponsored by iStockphoto. For complete survey results, see the September issue of GDUSA, which hits news stands September 12.


Since 1963, Graphic Design USA, also known as GDUSA, has been the business-to-business publication for graphic design professionals. GDUSA covers news, people, projects, trends, technology, products and services of interest to creative professionals. This includes extensive coverage of stock imagery and elements, including an annual reader survey on what creatives are thinking, saying, planning, buying and licensing. That survey is now in its 25th year. The GDUSA brand now includes a 50,000 visitor-a-month website, two e-newsletters for graphic designers, and four national design competitions covering graphic, packaging, website and corporate design.


About Author

I write about the stock photo and microstock industry since 2006 on my several online-magazines. My goal for MyStockPhoto is to teach photographers and stock photographers how to sell more photos and earn money with their photography hobby.

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