Courtroom Artist Scott Snow Shows His Sketches at Gallery East

Pictured: JonBenet Ramsey Hearing

Blackwater Guards Arraignment
Blackwater Guards Arraignment

Exhibit February 1 - 25, 2022

An exhibit, “Courtroom Art Retrospective: 40 Years of Scott Snow’s Sketches,” featuring the work of Salt Lake City artist/illustrator Scott Snow, will be on exhibit in USU Eastern’s Gallery East showing from February 1 – 25.

Scott Snow has been a courtroom artist for over 35 years, drawing for all the major TV news organizations including CNN, NBC, CBS, FOXNews—as well as local news channels KUTV and KSL where he first started. He grew up in Salt Lake City, attended public school including Highland High School and legendary art teacher Harold Peterson. He graduated from Utah State University in 1978 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Advertising Art & Communications and a minor in Illustration & Painting. Besides courtroom art, Snow has established himself as a graphic designer and illustrator.

 Snow’s foray into doing courtroom art came unexpectedly. “I didn’t have a clue I’d become a courtroom artist,” he says. “It wasn’t premeditated. I was an illustrator and a freelance artist working in Salt Lake and building a small but steady reputation. Then opportunity knocked. An acquaintance called who worked at KSL-TV news saying they needed a courtroom artist. He asked if could do that sort of thing. Without hesitation I said yes but had no idea what I was getting into. Instructed to bring my art materials and talk to Spence Kinard, the News Director, I found myself in the newsroom drawing a reporter. This was my audition. When Spence returned his verdict was, ‘I think that looks enough like him.’ He summoned me to draw in court the next day. That was it. I was a courtroom artist.”

His method of working may seem a bit untidy to some people, but it’s effective. “I work in pastels on large colored paper with a towel on my lap—a rather messy medium. I’ve trashed a few courtroom carpets in my day, but pastels allow me to work up the subject very quickly and is very forgiving,” he explains. “I was the first to come into court in this region with pastels and large colored paper. Before my time, artists were using colored pencils on oversized white sketchbooks. It didn’t seem very appealing to me to have a white surface glaring at you beneath the drawings as they were shown on color television. I think it looks really nice to see the richly colored backgrounds with the drawings jumping off them on the TV screen. Colored paper gives the drawing a head start.”

Ted Kazinsky
Ted Kazinsky

Twenty nine selected drawings will be featured in the exhibit. “You’ll notice many different colors of paper in the show,” says Snow. “Each is picked for a particular reason as I start a drawing, either to compliment or contrast, create emotion or help tonalize a scene. Colors do some amazing things.”

“To start a trial, I render a wide courtroom scene the cameraman can move through during the news story. It includes the judge, the defendant and the attorneys. I need to get all this and simultaneously draw any important witnesses. The first day can be the most intense. A drawing might take a half hour to an hour, but sometimes the window of opportunity may only be a few minutes. Needless to say, a courtroom artist has to be fast."

“Everything you see in this show (except for the artist depictions like the Wilberg Mine Disaster or execution drawings) were started and finished in the courtroom,” Snow explains.  “No additional work or retouching takes place.  There just isn’t time. The drawings go right from my hands to the news crew.”

Snow created courtroom art for some of Utah’s most notorious hearings and trials. He also covered several major Federal court cases. Some of his most significant drawings, including those done for the Singer-Swapp Standoff trial, the Mark Hoffman Murders trial, the Bill Gates Software Suit, the Wilberg Mine Disaster, and Elizabeth Smart Kidnapping trial, will be featured in the exhibit.

USU Eastern’s Gallery East is located in the Central Instruction Building and its exhibits are free and open to the public during the academic year from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and closed weekends and holidays. The gallery observes COVID-19 precautions, including face coverings and a limit of 10 people in the gallery at one time.

The reception for Snow’s exhibit is February 4 from 6-8 p.m. He will discuss his work and answer any questions visitors may have.

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