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The History of Computer Clip Art

From the logo on your diary to images on seed packets and food packaging, clipart abounds, probably without you even realizing it. Where did computer clip art begin?

Computer Graphics History

It is interesting how, as something develops, so does its definition. The term “Clipart” came about in the publishing industry when people would physically cut out and paste printed images to a board for re-use in other jobs. At this time, most of the images were black and white line art. They were generic images and symbols.

Around the 1990s was the time desktop publishing was available to consumers through personal computer systems and the time most companies went digital in their processes. The demand for computer graphics (clipart) grew and continues today.

So what is clipart? A piece of clipart as we know it today, is a ready-made computer image that can be used over and over for print and web projects. Clipart has become more popular as technology has improved. Computers started off being text-based but were developed further to accommodate graphic capabilities. We humans are a visual lot.

Computer Graphics Software

Public demand saw computer makers extend memory capabilities and there was an upsurge in the availability of graphic programs. Clipart became more sophisticated and color was introduced. The huge popularity of the scrapbooking industry has further developed the demand for clipart. The overall quality is pristine and refined – in that clipart for digital scrapbooking is often layered.

Computer Graphics Art

Previously clipart had a somewhat shifty reputation because there was only a limited amount available and the images were fairly general. That meant the graphics were quickly ‘over-used’ and therefore seemed to be seen everywhere. Some professionals felt clipart was ‘unoriginal’. However, as interest and technology grew the industry has boomed. There are so many offshoots and niche topics coupled with the advancement of affordable technology that clipart is readily available in varying terms of quantity, quality and style. For as many art styles that exist, so do the styles of clipart.

Publishing has progressed in leaps and bounds from the 1990s. The world of computer graphics continues to evolve as more people participate online and as technology further develops.

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