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We talked to the Taylor Swift courtroom artist

In this courtroom sketch by Jeff Kandyba, pop singer Taylor Swift (left) appears with her lawyer and mother in federal court Aug. 8 in Denver.Associated Press

There’s plenty to talk about when it comes to the civil trial involving Taylor Swift and David Mueller, the former Denver DJ who Swift said groped her at her show in 2013.

After losing his job over the incident, Mueller sued Swift for $3 million in 2015. Swift countersued for $1.

Some of the discussion about the trial, though, has little to do with the content of the case.

Instead, it’s about the courtroom sketches by Jeff Kandyba.

Writer Anne T. Donahue tweeted this clever thought about the first sketch of Swift in the courtroom on Tuesday: “This artist’s rendition of Taylor Swift is a very good sketch of Rolf from The Sound of Music.”


Yahoo sports columnist Dan Wetzel asked, via Twitter, “sketch artist Tom Brady vs. sketch artist Taylor Swift — who drew it worse?”

In Boston we know that a questionable courtroom drawing can get as much attention as case itself. Jane Rosenberg’s sketches of Deflategate proceedings went viral when Brady appeared in court in 2015. At the time, Rosenberg said, “At least they can figure out which one is Tom Brady. That’s good, whether he looks good or bad. It’s not just a stick figure of a nobody.”

On Friday, the Globe chatted by phone with Kandyba about his take on Swift, and how he’s handling the criticism of his depictions of the singer. During a brief lunch break from the courtroom, he said that most people — including Swift fans hanging around the courthouse in Denver — have been kind about his work.

As for the many critics, he said they should know that drawing the star in court is not like photographing her at an event. He prepped for the trial by studying pictures of Swift, but “they’re all glamour shots. She’s not like that in the courtroom. She’s not doing a lot of smiling.”


Other artists who’ve covered similar, high-profile court cases around Boston had sympathy for Kandyba on Friday.

Jane Collins , a sketch artist in Boston who works with pastels, said it’s always difficult to draw people — even famous people — after only seeing them for an hour or so. She sketched the Whitey Bulger trail and said it got easier over time.

“He was hard to do, but we did him every day for nine weeks,” she said. “You get to understand what he looks like.”

(For the record, Collins isn’t a big fan of Kandyba’s Swift drawings, which she saw on the news Friday morning. Collins said the sketches make Swift look like a “Kewpie doll.”)

Christine Cornell, an artist who drew the Bulger trial and Brady’s Deflategate proceedings, said the big challenge for courtroom artists can be depicting an entire scene in one drawing. That’s what Cornell thinks went wrong with Rosenberg’s version of Brady — that the artist included too many people.

“She cast a very wide net,” she said. “I limited myself to the defense.”

Cornell said drawing a beloved, universal figure is extra pressure. Her toughest high-profile assignment was drawing Uma Thurman during the trial of her stalker. She said Thurman’s complexion was difficult to get on paper. If Cornell didn’t get it just right, it was someone else.

“It would start to look like Michelle Pfeiffer.”