Review: Is an Envato Elements worth the unlimited subscription?

By Matt Lipman     May 16, 2019

TL;DR: Maybe: If you have a need for bulk assets, this subscription can certainly be an affordable budget way to purchase everything.

Why did I try Envato Elements in the first place?

I was revamping my company website, with an emphasis on updating the portfolio section. I was searching all over the internet for high quality mockup templates for my recent work in web design, branding, and graphic design. I noticed I was wasting my time scouring for free templates and was willing to pay to save time. When looking for paid options, I noticed the challenge to find mockups that were similar in style was still difficult.

I found a smartphone package on Creative Market that had my attention. The appearance was high-quality for a reasonable price point, but I still would need to find a desktop package and other graphic design options. Next I stumbled upon (not affiliate link) and their device mockup pacakge for $70. This was everything I wanted for the website side of my portfolio and with little hesitation I purchased the package and was extremely happy. The package deal included customizable multi-perspective high-resolution mockups for most current flagship devices: iPhone XS, iphone XR, iMac, iPad Pro, MacBook, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, MS Surface Studio, MS Surface book 2,  Dell XPS, Google Pixel, Galaxy S9 and more.

Sadly, what worked for the website portfolio, didn’t work for logos and graphic design. If you check out my portfolio, you’ll notice I favor minimalist design where the focus is on the design. No random plants, pens, and gizmos, on a desk. Nope. Simply a gray (or muted) background if possible.

The search for branding and graphic design mockups continued.

I considered Envato elements earlier and quickly dismissed the subscription due to their weak selection of device mockups. But, with that piece of the puzzle already solved, I ended up purchasing a month’s access for $33. The subscription worked out and I got what I needed. But overall, I wasn’t thrilled with this service, which I break down in the pros and cons below.


Where Envato elements falls short:

Quality is a mixed bag.

The service provides a huge assortment of stock photos and video, graphics and templates, music and sound effects, fonts, assets for websites, 3D elements and more. Looking through the stock photo section, I got the impression the selection was dated and made of content that didn’t sell. My test to confirm this was searching the term “smartphone”, which revealed the majority of photographs that include a smartphone, indubitably used old iPhone models. My guess would be that 95% of the smartphones photographs feature an iPhone 8 or older.

Envato Elements stock photos seem dated


Envato has a big stake in the stock asset industry and is not going to risk losing sales on it’s money makers. Therefor, the top sellers and highest quality products are unlikely to find its way into the subscription library. However, over the years, Envato presumably amassed a humongous collection of assets that sit collecting dust. This is where subscriptions make sense, monetizing low-selling content and repackaging it to budget buyers.

Finding the right graphic is a challenge.

A large selection of low quality stock means you will have to sift through search results. You will download content, only to find it is not up to your standards. But with the shear size of the collection and various asset types, you will unquestionably find some usable content.

One of the main reasons I am willing to pay for such content is time is money. In my budget days, I would jump from website to website in search for free content without attribution requirements. When the quest for the right shot or angle slows the process down, you waste hours and can still come up empty handed. With Envato Elements, you have access all in one place, but it still feels like you can search hard and long for a specific shot and come up disappointed.

Where Envato Elements rises to the occasion:

Huge library spanning many media types.

$33 for a month access to such a large and diverse collection is an amazing deal. Seriously, I’ve purchased one photo on for $30. Download a few things and the deal is worth well worth it. Find 10+ things and you’re making off like a bandit, and you have an entire month to find content. Don’t forget, you can even search their collection before you commit. Although, you get better previews to multiple-file downloads when you subscribe.

Compared to searching for free assets from website to website, this is a better experience in that your search is in one place. Also, at least you know when you find something, you already have the license to use it.


Envato Elements is ideal for designers on a budget, agencies with a constant need for assets, or folks like me who have a need for bulk content for a specific project or two. On the other hand, if you have high-standards and seek high-quality content, I recommend looking elsewhere. You may be able to find some perfect assets with Envato, but it is like finding a needle in a haystack.

What we can learn from NASA that isn’t rocket science

By Christina Dewey     December 20, 2017

Design is a powerful force. It can teach us something new, provide useful information, and even help us choose how to spend our money. Because humans are visual, we link feelings and memories with images, and we store those images in our brains automatically, using them later to make judgments and decisions throughout the day, every day. By drawing on those collective cultural images stored in our memories, design can push us to imagine and envision anything, even things that don’t yet exist. Even new worlds.

As globalization has shrunk distances and made faraway cultures more accessible, NASA has continued to push our exploratory boundaries even further beyond our own world. Now, even the acronym NASA may be a signal to some that this is about to turn into a boring textbook lecture filled with scientific jargon that’s nearly impossible to decipher, but NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) has tapped into the power of visual design to alter that assumption.

NASA’s JPL has designed and produced a set of space exploration posters, each highlighting a planet, star, or other space discovery and presenting it in a style reminiscent of retro movie posters a la Saul Bass.

15 JPL Posters exploring of our universe
Images Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech

These posters do more than just highlight some of NASA’s space discoveries – they make us want to learn about them because they’re visually appealing, intriguing, and inviting.


Let’s visit (the poster of) Mars!

JPL Poster of Mars
Image Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech

You probably notice the text “MARS” first, then your eyes may travel to the center of the poster to what looks like a bullseye. From there, your gaze may continue to move out from the center in a bigger circle, noting the profile of the astronaut and continuing to review the details within the poster with this circular gaze. After this first once-over, what’s your impression of Mars? You might first think “round”, in reference to the way it led your eyes around from detail to detail. Next description to come to mind may be “red” because of the most prominent color. Maybe, touching on the human elements of the poster, such as the astronaut, the land rover, the city buildings, the water drops, and the plants, you may think it’s capable of supporting human life.

If you didn’t already know that Mars is the red planet and thought to be capable of sustaining a human colony, you’d probably get a fairly accurate impression of what Mars is just by looking at this poster. It may even make you want to do some research to learn more. And if you’re an expert on Mars already, this visual probably only enhances what you already know

But maybe this one was too easy. Mars, being Earth’s next door neighbor, may be familiar to most people. What about the posters depicting less common space discoveries? Can we learn about something new from a poster alone?

Welcome to Ceres, Queen of the Asteroid Belt

JPL Poster of Ceres
Image Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech

Before writing this, I didn’t know anything about Ceres. Here are my initial thoughts based on my first impression of this poster: Ceres is an asteroid in our solar system; it’s cold and dark; it’s located on the edge of something, maybe the edge of landable, moonwalkable space objects. The poster gave me those impressions because of its cool color scheme consisting entirely of white, black, and blue-toned grays. This gives it a cold, dark feeling. The two figures seem to be standing on the edge of the frontier, watering up at the pump before heading out into the unknown. After jotting down my initial thoughts, I looked up Ceres to see how close I was. Ceres is a dwarf planet in the asteroid belt in between Mars and Jupiter, though it’s actually within the orbit of Neptune. It consists of mostly rock and ice. Not bad!

Because of JPL’s poster designs, I’ve researched these different planets and stars and space discoveries, none of which are my usual go-to topics of interest. Just the thought of being blasted out of the Earth’s atmosphere in a space ship terrifies me. But I am a design fan, and these posters are so visually arresting and intriguing that they pulled me in and made me want to learn more about a topic that I probably wouldn’t have been so interested in otherwise.

As companies try to court new customers, it’s important to remember that although having a quality product is key, presenting that product in an inviting way that’s accessible to more than a limited niche market of people can help to broaden a client base, or at least garner additional interest. NASA’s work may be beyond the realm of understanding for most of us, but they’ve opened it up to a lot more people through this design project.