So long, silhouetted stick figures: The death of clip art

Microsoft is killing off clip art, after 31 years of faithfully serving PC users who wanted to jazz up their presentations or add interest to a printed sign with the use of silhouetted stick figures.

Although clip art has been long regarded as bad design practice, the announcement, made by a blog post on Monday, brings the end of an era many Microsoft Office users would be more than familiar with.

The first library of professionally drawn clip art was introduced to the IBM PC in 1983, according to The Atlantic. It offered images to be used in presentations and newsletters. During the mid-1990s, Microsoft began offering clip art as a built-in feature in many of its products.

In the late 1990s clip art images were as ubiquitous as comic sans, appearing on everything from school presentations to community newsletters. Many businesses even used clip art images for logo, much to the distaste of the graphic design community.

But all is not lost for those looking for a cheap and easy image. Microsoft said that while the clip art library has closed, customers can now still add images to their documents via Bing Image Search, which is built into Microsoft Office.

Bing has a creative commons option that allows users to access some copyright-free images. Not all the images through Bing are available for free use, however, and Microsoft says users are “are responsible for respecting others’ rights, including copyright”.

It is perhaps most likely users will turn to Google image search. They may even find an old clip art image floating around.

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