Using school mascot clipart to decorate your cheer squad's website is an easy way to add a little pizzazz and spirit. But there are more ways to use it, and more places to get it, than you might think.
Picking the Right ClipArt
Most school mascots have some kind of common theme - an animal such as an eagle, or a bear, or some fierce warrior. Finding clipart for these is usually pretty simple. For example, if your school mascot is "the Vikings" you can go to a page such as Rival Art and find all kinds of images. You'll notice, however, when you click on the images that they all have the "watermark" of Rival Art across them - making them impossible to use as-is.
There's a reason for that: the folks at Rival Art work hard to make some great collections of images, and they would like to be paid for them. That's a good reminder that you shouldn't just try to take whatever image you can find online and use it without the artist (or owner's) permission. It's stealing, plain and simple, and could conceivably get your squad and your school in lots of trouble. It's better to look somewhere like iStockPhoto to purchase (for as low as $1) royalty-free images. You can of course purchase artwork from Rival Art or a similar company as well, but make sure you have a copy of the licensing that lets you know where and how often you can use the image.
Finding Free Clipart
It's easy enough to find free clip art - the problem is finding any that isn't worth exactly what you paid for it. There are thousands, if not millions, of "free clipart" pages on the web, but unfortunately they are "free" only because they support themselves through a whole lot of advertising. In fact, most of them have far more ad space than they have actual clips, and usually the clips are low-resolution pictures from old word processing programs. Trying to find something that's actually going to work for your site (or your print materials) can be quite a headache.
Where to Find Good School Mascot Clipart
While finding the right mascot is obviously important, there is more to finding a quality image. It also depends on where you're planning on using it. Roughly speaking, if you're using a picture on a website, you only need it to be 72dpi - in other words, the same as what you see on the web page. However, 72dpi will not look very clear and sharp on any print materials such as decals- especially if you're planning on printing out big posters. Make sure that you get 150dpi or better when you're planning on printing something.
There are places to find good free clip art - people like Mark Hicks work with sites like Discovery Education to come up with common themes for the kinds pictures that many people would use for teams - dolphins, dragons, etc. Another resource is the Creative Commons website, which has links to many artists who will let you use their work for your school mascot clipart simply for attribution (that is, giving them credit).
Home Grown Mascots
However, probably the best source for your mascot clip art - especially if you have some unusual mascot that isn't commonly drawn - is your own school. Most high school art programs have students (or teachers) who are talented enough to create either hand-drawn or computer-generated mascot art. This gives you the opportunity to create something original and lasting for the school, and gives the student artist the opportunity to add a professional credit to their portfolio. Working with a student artist lets the project really reflect the school, the community, and the spirit in the image. Best of all, it can be done in all kinds of formats - from scanning it into a computer to putting it on a wall-size banner - and everyone who looks at it will feel the school pride that went into its creation.