Creating a good website on a budget is hard, and one of the toughest assignments is the creation of attractive, appropriate images. Many webmasters rarely heavily clip art and stock graphics to get the job done, even accomplished artists. There are thousands of sites with such art available but they are a legal legal and ethical minefield, because you are usually required to compensate the artists when you use them on a commercial site. Sometimes it's not just once, either. One popular stock photography site requires royalty payments each quarter for the pictures you use. Payments for a single picture can run into the hundreds of dollars.
What makes this article different is that the free clip art and stock graphics mentioned here are all not only free to acquire, but they are also royalty-free and rights-cleared, meaning you can use them on your site without having to pay anyone. And the catch? Originally, it was going to be that these images are of somewhat lower quality than their commercial counterparts. Reviewing these sites provided otherwise. There's a ton of great stuff here. About the only catch is that in most cases you are not allowed to copy the entire collection and republish it as your own. Feel free to use as many of these free clip art images as you want on web pages you have designed, however.
Browse PDClipart.org during your downtime and you'll find some real gems. It is a comprehensive and well-categorized site that verges perilously close to commercial quality. I have used some of the image credits to track down artists for additional work. Webmaster Jon Sullivan has contributed thousands of his own pictures to the public domain in an act of extreme generosity. His category system is faultless and thorough. PD Photo is clean and very easy to navigate. Travel, events such as airshows and parades, and such critically important topics as cheese are covered with commercial grade photographs. A few of them are copyrighted, apparently because they use copyrighted subject matter, but he still makes them free to use; see the Copyrighted section for details.
Peirce Free Clipart Collection
Surprisingly high quality free clip art collection and, pleasantly, most images are in at least three formats: web-ready bitmaps, PDF, and WMF (a Windows graphic format). Do note the unusual spelling of Peirce. It's not a typo.
A massive 25,000 free clip art collection of public domain images "specifically tailor for use in word processors" and optimized for inkjet output. It even includes notes on using OpenOffice. This free clip art collection is a labor of love. Paul Sherman, the maintainer, has gone far past the extra mile in retouching and improving many of the images while still not claiming copyright on his changes. Emphasis is on older but eminently useful images.