Our Content Review team checks all the icons and illustrations uploaded to Iconfinder. For their decision, they follow a set of Criteria for approving icons and illustrations.
When approving content for Iconfinder, one of the things we look for is uniqueness. That a set is unique means it has not been created with too much inspiration from other artwork. We value originality and we do not like to see icons and illustrations that simply copy other designer's work in terms of style, colors, themes etc.
All customers are looking for unique artwork that stand out. There are a lot of other factors at play when customers choose icons and illustrations for their projects (style, size, aesthetics etc.), but uniqueness is what will catch their attention. It is also what Iconfinder looks for when we feature sets on our homepage and what we promote.
Creating original icons is important in icon design because it is a very competitive market. There are a lot of icons sets being uploaded every day, so it is a good idea to create something that stands out from the crowd and differentiate yourself.
For illustrations, uniqueness is also really important. This is because illustrations are mostly use to add character and atmosphere to websites, landing pages, branding material etc. Customers do not want to use illustrations that look like what everyone else is using. Find your own style and create truly individual and distinctive designs that stand out from the rest and have personality.
Examples of icon and illustration sets that are not unique
Below, you can see a few examples of icon sets that we see a lot of. There are way too many glyph business sets in a black and blue color combination and they are simply not interesting to look at.
Here is another example of a typical outline that does not stand out.
When it comes to illustrations, here are a few examples of sets that do not stand out from the rest.
The two sets below does not have any strong style choices. The characters are anonymous and lack refinement. They definitely don't stand out.
Below are a few points and ideas that can make your sets stand out.
For icons: Style play
There are a few icon styles that have become the standard for all designers: glyph, outline, filled outline, flat, isometric etc. Even if there are a few standard styles, that does not mean that you should always play into just these presets. There are still new things to explore. Here are a few examples:
Here is a good example of a style play of outline and glyph elements.
Icons from Black set by Sergei Kokota
Another example of combined outline, flat and filled outline design elements.
This set also has a good color palette. Icons from Location Color by Elisabetta Calabritto
A fresh take on flat icons, avatars in this case, with a pixel-like shade twist.
Icons from Avatars by Lupislegi
For icons: Unique color combinations
Even if you stick to the classic styles, unique colors can make an icon set shine apart from the regular pack. Using appealing colors can be a huge factor to boost the overall quality of a set. A good choice of colors and attention to detail will always make a good combination. Read more about Colors.
This Icojam family of sets became quite popular and the colors chosen for it are one of the factors. Icons from Unigrid phantom - Biology by Icojam
Unique subject / category / theme
You can choose to tackle areas and subjects that nobody has done before. To get some idea what subject matter is not as populated, Iconfinder releases quarterly Icon designer reports, which contain search stats and numbers that can help you make a decision about this.
Good glyph icons, subject is headache. Icons from Headache set by Siwat V.
Unique outline icons, subject is trade wars. Icons from Trade wars set by Siwat V.
For illustrations: Use playfulness and humour
Here, the cat character makes this set more fun and can put a smile on everyone's face.
For illustrations: Use metaphors
Instead of depicting a concept literally, think of more creative ways in which it can be explained graphically.
The illustrations below are all metaphor and can be interpreted in different ways.
For both: Unique set and family names
Try to be creative about sets/families names, a unique set name can be very useful for search. Users will remember a unique name better than generic ones.
Some examples of unique family names are: "Scenarium", "Jumpicon", "Popicon". Customers can better remember these names than a generic name such as "Business flat".
Read more about all of our Criteria for approving icons and illustrations.
If you get too much inspiration from other designers, it could become easy to fall into copying and copyright infringement. It is recommended that you make yourself familiar with our Policy towards copyright infringing material.