As we all know, paying jobs for artists can be in short supply. One of the more obscure but potentially full-time gigs is courtroom sketch artist—although cameras are increasingly allowed in courtrooms, sometimes a sketch is still the only way to bring the drama to the public.

The cautionary tale of Jane Rosenberg would remain as a warning though: the job has dangers as her infamous sketch of Tom Brady shows. The less-than handsome sketch of the superhuman ball inflator became viral on the internet and caused many hours of mirth here and elsewhere.

Brady returns to court today to face charges he overinflated footballs to help with his passing in a Patriots game, and Rosenberg has another crack at catching the many moods of hope and resolve flickering over Brady’s face, but although she’s been practicing since the first attempt she’s not sure it’s a touchdown:

“I still found him very hard to draw — from a photo as well,” the sketch artist said. “Something subtle goes on with his eyes. He has a big chin with a cleft in it.”

Rosenberg has a distinguished history as a sketch artist, something the Brady misadventure shouldn’t distract from. The Daily News jink above has a gallery of celebrity courtroom sketches and this Martha Stewart is a fine job.

According to this job site, courtroom sketch artist can pay from $19-90K a year. Qualifications include:

• Reliable: You can always be counted on to do a good job.
Trustworthy: You are known for your personal integrity and honesty.
Outside the Box Thinker: Your creative brainpower gets a workout as you come up with innovative ideas.

Not mentioned, artistic skill., But trust me, you need that.

Rosenberg has probably become the most famous courtroom sketch artist of all time since the Brady Incident. And she knows it. And today is not going to be a cakewalk.

“There’s a lot of pressure on me. A lot of eyeballs on me. I just hope my hands can move, period. I know I’m not going to have any sleep tonight,” she the the Daily News. “I still might blow it; anything could happen.”


  1. Her first sketch was done at a hearing that lasted less than 5 minutes. That’s not much time to capture the entire scene, and nail a likeness. I guess all the mocking she’s endured comes from bloggers who do their jobs flawlessly every single time.

    By the way, your fourth paragraph contains a typo — the word is “link”, not “jink”.

  2. Hi Heidi – The Tom Brady scandal is actually about the DEflating of footballs (presumably to make them easier to grip), not overinflation. On a lighter note, being a Jets fan (as I believe you are also), the original courtroom picture of Brady, which is sort of reminiscent of a Buffy vampire, is a pretty accurate depiction of how I see him in my nightmares. :)

  3. While attending the American Library Association conference in San Francisco last June, I met a court reporter who was hired, by ALA, to provide her services to an attendee who wasn’t able to normally partake in the panel. I asked her, in general, what would it cost? I think it was less than $100 an hour.

    I asked, because I remember watching the nightly news and seeing the sketch artists’ work on tv.
    Add in a court reporter, and I began to wonder… why don’t conventions/companies do this? Hire a staff artist who’s good and fast (Sergio Aragones, Rick Parker, Thom Zahler), and create a visual record of a panel. The court reporter records everything, and there’s an instant transcript.

    Of course, hiring a court reporter for every panel would be expensive,

    Was Rose O’Neill, of Kewpie fame, a comics journalist who did illustrations for newspapers during the early 1900s?

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