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Forensic artist Proving that artistic ability can be used for more than just beautifying walls, forensic artists fight crime not with guns or batons but with 2B pencils and sketchpads. With their incredible ability to sketch lifelike artistic renderings of people they’ve never met before, forensic artists play an important part in crime reduction, sometimes without even leaving their studio. Helping to solve crimes, forensic artists use a wide range of techniques to put together profiles of victims and people suspected of committing crimes. From using 2D and 3D imagery to recreating the likeness of an unidentified deceased person, to free-drawing the faces of criminal suspects and using data to sketch age progression portraits of missing persons, forensic artists possess a rare combination of artistic skill, technical know-how and an understanding of law enforcement. Many forensic artists work within the police unit as a police officer, although there are exceptions to the rule. Some are retired cops who cultivate their artistic abilities after spending a life in law enforcement. A sharp understanding of criminal behaviour is needed, so many forensic artists have also studied psychology. Apart from having the required creative and technical skills, temperament plays a big part in this role. Forensic artists often have to work on challenging, confronting cases so being able to deal with the unpleasant side of this type of work is important. Viewing images of crime scenes, decomposed corpses and other disturbing things is a part of the job, so having a strong stomach and the ability to work through emotionally distressing events is crucial. Forensic artists often have to work closely with terrified victims and distraught families, so having a compassionate and understanding nature is also helpful when communicating with traumatised people.

Despite the highly serious nature of this career path, forensic art is a career well worth pursuing. With forensic artists able to influence the outcome of court cases and provide valuable tools that assist in everything from the capture of serial killers to the recovery of kidnapped children, this is a creative career that can really make an immediate difference to the world. Some artists aspire to have their work hung in galleries, others hope to sell their work for millions, and others use their artistic skills to apprehend criminals, solve cold cases and bring closure to victims of violent crime. Forensic artists may not have their work displayed in the Guggenheim or be subject to furious bids at auction houses, but they can sleep at night knowing that their career is of the utmost value and importance to the community. Imagine the satisfaction of knowing that your composite sketch led to the arrest of a notorious murderer? Sure, you’ll never be as famous as Renoir but how many lives did he save in his time at the easel?

The lowdown

Education or qualifications: While not strictly necessary, a degree in fine arts would be helpful. Experience required: Experience in graphic design, drawing and using computer programs that create facial composites is essential. Experience in law enforcement or criminal psychology is highly valued. Training: Forensic art courses are available in many countries. Most countries require forensic artists to be certified before practising. Restrictions: Because forensic artists need extensive knowledge of policing, law and criminal profiling, many work as part of the police force. Therefore, many forensic artists have worked (or currently work) within the police force, and do not have a criminal record.

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...

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