The use of clipart in presentations is usually not advised. However not all clipart is bad. In this post I talk about how Silhouettes and Outlines can be good for slides.
This topic seems to be a complicated one, but it isn't. Presentations Pros are likely to advise us not to use clipart in our slides. I think we are wrong, or at least they haven't told us the whole truth. A better statement is "Bad clipart shouldn't be forbidden from presentations visuals, and good one should be used carefully". Pros use top quality clipart like in Obama's State of the Union address 2011—SOTU 2011— (click here to see it) or in The clock is ticking on Long Island design by Duarte, so saying no to all clipart can't possibly be right. It is not to say that the camera on the left is bad clipart. There are different types of clipart, but not all are appropriate for slides. So what is good and bad presentation clipart?
The camera on the left is not appropriate for scientific presentations, the one on the right might be. These two represent the abstract concept of a photo camera, the one of the left is found in museums where photographing is allowed, the one on the left may be for a children'S book or website. There is also clipart that tries to be more realistic, like this one:
|Source: Wiki Commons|
Another further example is this Infinity car.
The website all-silhouettes.com is a good source with bundles of high quality art, and it is free.
Clipart should be used to graciously leverage the visualization of general and abstract concepts.As a rule of thumb only one color, and its absence, should be used. To avoid the cliché of cheap bad cllpart, the less is more principle should be furthered enforced. This means, among other things, that the use of cute, silly or childish art is out of order.
The use of clipart in presentations is closer to the use of diagrams, technical drawing, i.e. blueprints, than of the use of art. Instead of thinking to use clipart think using of an object's outline or silhouette, as well as abstract symbols that represent an idea to the audience.