I take photos of textures (sidewalks, trees, etc) NOT of fabrics, etc as they would be copyright protected.
I do use some graphics, with commercial license, such as Dover, but alter them drastically before I use them. Hey, anyone can grab a Dover graphic and plop it in a kit. I try to alter it in a new or creative way so it becomes a unique pattern or element.
I'm very aware of copyright issues. Like in my Read All About It
kit. I first sat down and created an entire newspaper using fonts I have permission to use. Adding titles, pictures, etc. Then I used that background to cut out all of my elements. I've seen elements, elsewhere, using newspaper where they obviously scanned in or photographed a current newspaper and I can't even begin to think how many copyright laws that violates!!
Anyway, a great place to start to learn to design is to take classes here at DSP.
I simply can't say enough about what I've learned through them. There are ones for all the main programs and the instructors are simply wonderful!