The job involves creating composite images of suspects or victims based on interviews with victims or witnesses, psychological analysis, and sometimes aging progression techniques. These images may be created as drawings, graphic images, and sculptural depictions.
In addition to excellent drawing and creative skills, strong ethics and people skills are required to interview and obtain information and to work with the investigative team. An interest in criminal investigation is also a plus, according to the Ask a Forensic Artist website, a strong desire to join law enforcement is a key to success in this field.
Karen Taylor, forensic artist
Employment for forensic artists can range from full-time employment with a law enforcement organization to part-time or free-lance opportunities. Requirements vary across organizations, and while there is no standard certification, information is available from the International Association for Identification (see link below for more information).
The International Association for Identification
A site with links to information on Forensic Art Certification requirements.
Ask a Forensic Artist
A great site created by a forensic artist with a wealth of information on what is required to pursue this career, including interviews and blog postings.
Facebook Group: Forensic Art Talk
A Facebook group for forensic artists.
All About Forensic Science
A free educational site about the world of forensic science.
Forensic Science Technician
A comprehensive guide to forensic science degree programs.
Karen Taylor worked as a forensic artist for 18 years for the Texas Department of Public Safety. Her work was featured on America’s Most Wanted, The History Channel, The Discovery Channel, and a character based on Taylor was created for the TV show CSI.
With the popularity of television crime shows like CSI, and real-life shows such as America’s Most Wanted, forensic art has entered the spotlight.