User Personas. What's ok to use?

So as I am currently working on a project and I thought of something. In the past, I have went on google images, found an image in the age range etc of the user persona I am trying to create, and I will use that image in my project. I will do the same for housing, a car, etc depending on what may be needed. Is this ok? How do others approach this ? I have had professors tell me before they have done this in a corporate setting, but the thing with that is that it stays within that project, its never really seen by the public. This project however, I want to be added to my portfolio, which will be seen by the public.


Is this a school project? A consultant project? A corporate project? Generally I think it’s fair to use in a mood or inspiration board. You aren’t benefitting commercially directly from the use of the image (ie. Selling it). I think most designers use wen images for inspiration boards and the like and don’t shoot their own images every time they want to show some design is inspire by an imac or lambo. I am not a lawyer.


It’s a school project. Thats kind of my thought as well, theres no possible way one could take all of the pictures. I was just curious how others approach it. Its not so hard with product inspiration, Im just wondering more about images of people mostly. Alot of these images I am finding are professional photos used for other things maybe ad’s or posters etc.

School project you are totally cool I’d say.


Doesn’t mean you can’t also do original demographic research and pics instead of relying on off the web stuff. Not like it’s hard to take pics now when every phone has a decent camera. Would help to see real people. Not just stock stuff. Another thing I’ve done is illustrations of people. You can take attributes of 5-10 pics of your ideal user and combine them into 1 person in an illustration. Even better. Original and exactly what you are trying to show.


Illustrating the user persona is interesting, maybe ill try that. I do have pictures of research and interviews in users homes. What I am working on now is my generic user persona that sums up who I am solving for. Thanks for the help! As I get a little more along in the project I may post it in the project section for more feedback.

For a student project you are totally fine.

privately lots of images are used. In general we start with found images, and we also do a lot of in person ethnographic research. Typically the quality of input on the ethno is really high, but the quality of visual isn’t to our standard, so we will actually shoot everything. Below is an example from one of our final presentations for product that is now on the market. We cast the people (even John Legend is sponsored and official permission granted for the photo). We shot a Tesla, we bought all of the products on the mood board and shot them ourselves… this is a pretty extreme example. I don’t think most people go to this length.

Internal communications we’ll leverage stock art and Google images. But anything that’s external facing is all shot imagery or renderings.

Here’s an example of an user persona Illustration I did for a project. Compilation from a bunch of web and real life pics.


Wow, I think this is a pretty cool example of a clean, simple, yet well defined user persona. I think I am going to start with found images, and if I can get some time may replace them with shot images.

Thanks everyone for the feedback, much appreciated!

What do you guys think of this so far? Its not finished, and there may be things I can add/subtract. The honey comb shapes go along with my branding/concept, when I post the full project it will probably make more sense.

Background: Power tool project concentrating on “DIY” users, no pro/contractors.

As someone who’ll be creating copyrighted work, you might want to read up a bit.

This seems like decent info for your situation.

As others have mentioned, you should be fine as a student creating non commercial work. However, you should be attributing the images you’re using if you want to do it properly.

Thanks Louis! I may just grab a friend and end up taking some pictures. Its not that much extra effort and in the end its probably what is right.