A courtroom artist sketches scenes from court cases. Her/his job involves not only creating drawings that show the parties involved in a case, but also capturing the feel or emotions of a moment in a courtroom. Court artists often work on a freelance basis, sketching court scenes whenever their clients need them rather than as a full-time, everyday job. Sometimes courtroom artists face competition from news cameras that are allowed into the court. They have an advantage, however, when judges prohibit news cameras in high-profile cases.
- Skill level:
Earn an arts degree from an accredited institution. While many employers will not care about your degree, especially if you are talented, some may not take your degree seriously if you earn it at an institution that is not accredited.
Learn how to sketch, working with pencil, charcoal and pastels. Some people practice sketching objects first and then move on to people. Experiment with colours to learn how to make a sketch look realistic.
Develop skills necessary for succeeding as a courtroom artist. You'll need to be able to visualise how scenes will appear after people have shifted in their chairs and remember details, such as facial expressions and changes in body language. You'll also have to control small objects in a precise manner and keep your hand steady as you draw.
Practice sketching scenes that are changing and moving. Since courtroom participants won't sit perfectly still, you'll need to learn how to capture a scene even when its participants are constantly moving around.
Create a portfolio that includes some of your best work. You may include sketches you created while in college as well as those you made while practicing in your free time.
Sit in on court cases and create sketches to add to your portfolio. This is legal in most places, and you usually won't need special permission.
Contact television stations and organisations that publish news, including Internet-based news sites. Secure appointments with news producers and show them your portfolio. You may need to contact them frequently, so that you are the first person they think of when they need a new court artist.
Become a member of organisations for journalists and other news professionals. Networking may help you to get referrals that could assist you in securing a job.
Get in touch with producers of television shows that focus on interesting criminal cases or solving mysteries. They may need courtroom artists from time to time.
Tips and warnings
- It may take a while to get your first job as a court artist. Sometimes finding a job is a matter of being in the right place at the right time.
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