Courtroom Sketch Artists: The Bridge Between Law and Art

Courtroom sketches allow a peek into private federal court cases that cameras are unable to capture. Sketch artists are sent in with a journalistic purpose, depicting what the public is missing in the courtroom. Depending on various factors, such as where the artist is sitting in the courtroom or how long he or she has to complete the drawings, the depictions can either perfectly present the court case figures or fail to do so. Some sketches that have recently been popular in the news are those of the Taylor Swift sexual assault court case. To put it simply, fans were unhappy about the sketches of the pop star.

Though not meant for art’s sake, courtroom sketches are being criticized like serious works of art. The quality of the sketch is put under fire, as well as the intentions of the artist. In the example of the Taylor Swift sketches, the public questioned what was wrong with the artist, if he was against Swift, or if there were any other biases at play.

Similar to “traditional” art, courtroom sketches can bring to light topics that people generally do not know about. There can be differing opinions about the sketches, ones that are dependent on which side of the case that each individual is on. These sketches are more than drawings, for they hold heavy influence on the general public, as these pictures may be the only insight provided for people outside of the courtroom.

Sketch artists can bridge the gap between law and art, but the ramifications of negative work are far more serious than those that a regular artist would face. Sketch artists are hired by the media to report the truth. Their livelihoods depend on maintaining a trustworthy, honest reputation. As for regular artists, their reputations are also connected to their careers. However, regular artists can thrive off negative reputations. Sketch artists play an important role in law and, as of recent (apparently), art.

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