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Generally the images are Illustrator vectors so you would need Illustrator or an compatible program. The costs for these are low from $25.00 to $75.00 and contain 250,000 to 1,000,000 images.
You can find what you are looking for fast and have several choices of images to select from and without copyright hassles.
I purchased a catalog and it has more than paid for itself.
Well, I (for one) do not use "bad art".
However, if you present me with a design client on a limited budget, and give me the choice between (1) blowing their entire budget taking the time to meticulously design 100% custom original icons for their site, and (2) being able to design an entire site within their budget, with tasteful, edited, pre-made icons, I'll take choice #2.
So, one big reason to use high quality clip art is time.
Also, if you have image editing experience and creative ability you can transform she-ut into a thing of beauty.
If you are able to create unique graphics more power to you. I do so at times, but sometimes creativity - schedules - costs, come in conflict and you need to make a choice.
Wanna-be a starving artist - not me I have kids to feed!
If you need to a real professional look for a really professional site and you cannot make that professional clip art image yourself, it might actually be worth the money and time to get an artist friend or graphic artist to at least make the major images of the site.
On the other hand, sometimes that resource is not available either because of time and/ or money, so you might have to use clip art from a book.
There are a lot of sites with a lot of bad clip art on the web. I do believe, however, that good clip art can be found if one looks hard enough. Sometimes that takes a lot of time...as much time as asking an artist friend to sketch something for you.
It is frustrating either way you go.
Although, next time I have a client with a real budget, I'll have to check out havanastreet... You seem particular enough that they must be pretty good!