A Guide To Finding And Using Legal Images: In Your Art And Writing

When I was a teen I loved looking through record bins. I still do.

record store 2

Photo by Sean Ziebarth

Yesterday’s albums were big, so the record cover made a big impact..Today we are going to create album cover art for your blog post ideas. The artwork should be:

Joy Division Images

Iconic cover image from Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures album

Album covers serve as a quick thematic statement. You should get a sense of your future experience (in listening to the album) from what you see on the cover. The images that you use in your writing should do the same. They should address important points, ideas, or themes.  Your audience can infer your writing style  from the art you select.

Problem: Far too often I see students using images that are trite, cliche, overused, most likely from the first page of a Google image search. They are images that I see again and again online so they become overused. I also see students using images that aren’t legal for reuse and I’m worried about WordPress.com shutting down your site or you being sued.

Solution and  Activity: Create a collage of four images. You can use Google Slides, Google Draw, or any collage tool. The images should form a square or rectangle. Each image should reference an idea or a theme from two of these novels/plays/short stories and  from two of the list of moods. So two moods, two books = four images. I will grade you on whether or not you found unique and novel images to use to represent the ideas and moods below.

Middle School 9th Grade 10th Grade

The Outsiders

Anne Frank

The Odyssey

To Kill A Mockingbird

Romeo and Juliet

The Most Dangerous Game

The Sniper

The Scarlet Ibis

Fahrenheit 451

Sophocles Plays

Any Myth


All Quiet On The Western Front









Infatuated: Crush




Zoning Out

Look through this slide deck of famous Album Covers for ideas and strategies for using images to represent a theme or idea.  (If you use some of the Album Cover strategies, I will give you extra credit for the assignment) (I showed this in class)

Use one of the following sites or techniques to find your image. Use a different site for each image. 



Then you will post the collage to a Canvas discussion and link the novel/story/play followed by the idea/theme followed by a link to which site you used to find your image. There should be four of these and they should look like this:

  1. Love: Flickr
  2. Stressed: Pixabay
  3. Hatchet: Advanced Advanced Google Image Search using .gov for plane crash lake
  4. All Quiet On The Western Front Google Image Search using Renaissance Art War

Album Cover

In order to upload you image you will need to 1. Create the collage and s ave it. 2. Upload the image to the “My Files” section of Canvas 3. In the discussion reply click “embed” and then “Canvas Files” and find the image. Then add the descriptions.

So what did they look like when the students were done? Here are a few:

By Yen Tran

Joyous: Taken by myself

Stressed: Pixabay

Romeo and Juliet: Flickr Image Search

Night: Notegraphy

Yen Tran

By Ezequiel Jimenez 

1.Anne Frank: Google search

2.Stressed: Flickr

3.Night: Pixabay

4.Sad: Advance google search


Ezequiel Jimenez

By Ryan Duvall

1.  Google images, Romeo and Juliet

2. Flickr: Envy

3. Advanced google search using .org, Fahrenheit 451

4. Pixabay : Frustrated

Ryan Duvall

By Katie Ho (she changed the collage layout… cool)

1. Notegraphy: To Kill A Mockingbird

2. Flickr: Infatuated: Crush

3. Advance Google Search: The Outsiders

4. Picture Taken Myself: Zoning out

Katie Ho

This student didn’t follow the directions precisely, but I don’t think I’ll have to worry about her finding legal images since she takes them all herself

By Melanie (I’m leaving her last name out to keep her subjects private)

1. zoning out; my own

2. The Scarlet Ibis; my own

3. All Quiet On The Western Front; my own

4. joyous; my own


I do Tune It Up Tuesdays activities with my students to tune up their writing and their blogs. If you want to use the Google Doc Directions/Handout on making legal cover art in your own class, feel free.

PS If you want your students or you to learn how to take your own photos to the next level you can take a short T.R.I.P. and discover how.

Hope you liked it.


PPS: Here’s an official Joy Division Video, if you have never heard or seen them. I loved this band, and still do.


4 thoughts on “A Guide To Finding And Using Legal Images: In Your Art And Writing

  1. Love this post! It’s the giant, juicy, chilled, seedless watermelon on the Idea Farm. So refreshing after pulling weeds all day long in the hot sun. I especially like how you break the traditional use of using a discussion board and save your students from the monotony of post once, reply twice.

    I came across an awesome Harvard Law School guide on Finding Public Domain & Creative Commons Media that may be of interest. Checkout http://guides.library.harvard.edu/c.php?g=310751

    My favorite: http://www.gratisography.com/

    Keep the ideas growing!

    Liked by 1 person

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