Page 33

62

Court sketch artist If you’re a skilled illustrator with a talent for pulling off sketches of others, who loves nothing more than to tune into an episode or two of Judge Judy, then think about combining both of those passions to create a quirky career fusion like no other. Law + illustration = court sketch art. And for some people, that’s the career of their dreams. With the ability to capture the human form using pencils and crayons, court sketch artists document legal trials through the art of sketching. Not affiliated with the legal system, court sketch artists are usually freelance illustrators who are hired by newspapers and other media outlets to cover a trial or supply sketches on a per-piece basis. Some court sketches artists even sell their work to individuals. Wait … don’t they have cameras in courtrooms now? The answer to that is yes and no. Some jurisdictions allow cameras in courtrooms but others do not. Some cases are so high profile that judges ban all recording devices from the courtroom. Court sketching has been around for centuries – the Salem witch trials were sketched by artists back in the 17th century – and while cameras and video cameras have definitely made a dent in this career, court sketch artists are still hired around the world on a regular basis. Television dramas like Law & Order would have you believe that court cases are dramatic, enthralling affairs. In reality, most cases are terribly boring, so having the ability to sit still for long periods of time is important, as court cases can often drag on for months. Being able to focus on the task at hand and not get distracted is also essential, as is having the strength to sketch through disturbing moments of testimony like seeing photos of bloody crime scenes and hearing about autopsies.

Like many freelance art careers, making enough money can be a serious challenge in this job. That is why many court sketch artists also take on other illustration jobs. It’s such a narrow field that it pays to be open to other illustrating work when it comes up. Promoting your work is a huge part of this role, so having the confidence to market yourself and sell your sketches to news outlets is vital. Typically working on high-profile trials, this career represents a golden opportunity to be involved in something the whole world is watching. With sketch artists capturing iconic moments involving everyone from Charles Manson to OJ Simpson, court sketch work is a rare chance to not only be a part of history, but also shape the way people view a historic event. If you’ve got the ability to think quickly, turn sketches around fast enough to feed the news cycle and are okay with hearing the graphic details, then courtroom sketching could provide the perfect outlet for your creative talents and fascination for true crime. You may not get to meet Judge Judy, but your work could end up on the front page of The New York Times.

The lowdown

Education or qualifications: None. Experience required: Experience sketching in courtrooms and other live settings is essential. Training: Training courses in illustration will teach you live sketch techniques. Restrictions: Security checks apply before walking into most courtrooms.

Profile for smithstreetbooks

I can get paid for that?  

NOTE: This e-gallery is for press purposes only. No images or other copyrighted materials seen here may be reproduced. Contact patrick@smi...

I can get paid for that?  

NOTE: This e-gallery is for press purposes only. No images or other copyrighted materials seen here may be reproduced. Contact patrick@smi...

Advertisement