It is a common misconception that due to the large volume of content uploaded to Shutterstock that there can’t be real human beings checking all of it. Well, we are here to disprove this theory. Living, breathing individuals all over the world inspect each image and video file, along with the associated titles, keywords and releases, for quality and legal issues.

Not only are our reviewers professionally trained in stock imagery, most are artists themselves, some even contributors to Shutterstock.

This post kicks off a series designed to highlight our incredible team of reviewers as well as give you a little more insight into their backgrounds.

Today we would like to introduce you to “Judy,” a long time reviewer of Vectors and Illustrations. (Generally, Shutterstock doesn’t publish reviewers’ names or photos to help them remain objective and anonymous.)

Q: Judy, when did you become a reviewer for Shutterstock?

A: The end of 2008, going on six years now!

Q: What is your favorite thing about being a reviewer?

A: The amazing “window to the world” that is unique to reviewing for a high-volume stock agency. We get an overview of trends in color, design and content, often reflecting the artist’s worldview. Shutterstock contributors are awesome. I really enjoy the diversity of style and thought.

Q: Can you briefly describe the difference between vectors and illustrations?

A: A vector is created by software that converts your drawing to mathematically calculated points that can be reproduced at any size without loss of quality. We edit vectors in programs such as Adobe Illustrator, CorelDraw, Inkscape, etc. Illustrations are non-vector files such as rasterized vectors, 3D renderings, or a photographed/scanned artwork.

Q: What is the one thing you wish all contributors knew?

A: I honestly wish contributors knew to research their subject before submitting a large series of images that may be trademarked or otherwise restricted. After all that work… it kills me to reject an entire batch of meticulously drawn Ford Mustang illustrations! Become familiar with the “known restrictions” list. Look at already-approved images in the library, sort them by popular (AND by undiscovered!), see what is selling and what is not, before spending days building something that we can’t approve.

Q: What is a common mistake that you find vector contributors making?

A: A mistake I see vector contributors making is submitting source images as required for hand-drawn and auto-traced artwork, with artwork that was clearly built straight in the software. Contributors take a small JPG of the finished item as the “source” on a property release, which is not necessary and takes the reviewer time to evaluate. If you’ve built your vector in software without any reference materials, you don’t need to submit sources. You may even wish to write to the reviewer, “no source materials used, I drew this in the software without references” or something along those lines. The reason we ask for sources on artwork is to prevent copyright infringement.

Q: What is a common mistake that you find illustration contributors making?

A: The ‘new’ thing that is becoming more common is people digitizing ‘physical’ artwork (oil, watercolor paintings, etc.) by scanning or photographing the work, then importing the file into Illustrator, auto-tracing it, then exporting it as a JPG. It does not maintain the original quality of the photo or scan because vectors are unable to produce continuous tones.

Q: What is a style of content that you wish you saw more of?

A: I would love to see more drawings of people expressing emotion. The majority of the work I see is concerned with web site templates, app buttons, icons, and silhouettes. I realize it is much more difficult to create work that elicits emotion, but to me, that’s what artwork is all about, from an ethereal and a practical standpoint: The artist wants to convey emotion, and the customer wants to evoke emotion in order to get people to buy/use their product. Hats off to our artists who draw people in everyday situations. Those are awesome and make advertising and print much more interesting than a simple gray button.

Q: How have you seen the content change over the years?

A: Stock agencies have really opened up the world for Illustrators. The quality of art has come light years, not only because the software is getting better and allowing for more advanced techniques, but also because our artists have matured over the years. The almost instantaneous validation of your concept or design that occurs when your image is downloaded shows how much customers love your work, it allows you to really tune in to what customers want and don’t want. The ‘stock market’ is voracious for ‘new and fresh’ content, but also for ‘tried and true’ illustrations and vectors that get licensed every month, giving our contributors a great residual income while they develop new skills and content.

Top image © Susanitah/Shutterstock