A conversation with courtroom artist Vicki Behringer
From the Amber Heard / Johnny Depp trial, to Ghislaine Maxwell, to the Theranos Netflix show – courtroom art has made its way back into current events.
Not only is it visually incredible, the process and protocol of courtroom art is equally as fascinating. How does it come to be? Who commissions it? This interesting industry is as unique as it is niche.
The Placer County District Attorney’s Office has dozens of court art pieces adorning their halls. High profile cases from Mario Garcia, who kidnapped and murdered Christie Wilson, to murderer Luis Bracamontes – history comes alive looking at these pictures.
MEETING THE COURTROOM ARTIST
The courtroom artist for Placer County and all of Northern California is Vicki Behringer, who has been a courtroom artist since 1990, and who also happens to live in the Sacramento region. The DA’s office invited her to the office to learn more about what she does and what she enjoys about working in Placer County. Vicki has a friendly, warm presence and it is clear how passionate she is about her job.
A CHANCE OPPORTUNITY
Vicki says that breaking into courtroom art was a chance encounter. She was taking art classes at city college when a friend approached her saying that a local news station needed an artist in court the next day. She filled in not knowing what to expect, and never looked back.
FUNDED BY THE MEDIA
Courtroom art is funded by local media to cover high profile cases where the judge has decided to not allow cameras in the courtroom. This decision can be due to many factors such as victim privacy, opposition from the defense, the nature of a sensitive situation, among others. Once that decision is made, Vicki’s work begins.
Vicki explained deadlines can range from an hour to the end of a business day. Sometimes the deadlines will be as fast as each court break. For more in-depth sketches with multiple witnesses, or the full jury, Vicki will have until the close of the court day to complete her artwork.
AN AMAZING CAREER
Vicki is the sole artist for Northern California which has afforded her the opportunity to sketch high-profile cases such as Michael Jackson, the Unabomber, Scott Peterson and more. As it becomes increasingly common for courts to allow cameras in courtrooms, courtroom art is a cherished profession that may not continue past this generation – making Vicki’s work that much more important to spotlight.
In Vicki’s interview you will learn more about what tools she uses for her pieces, her favorite Placer County memory and what she likes best about her job. You can learn more about Vicki’s art at www.courtroomartist.com