Jeff Kandyba has been sketching in Colorado courtrooms since the 1980s. But after over three decades on the job witnessing some of Denver’s most high-profile cases, Kandyba’s work has finally been given national attention thanks to Taylor Swift.
The pop star has spent last week in a Denver courtroom facing former radio deejay David Mueller, who was found guilty on Monday of assault and battery against Swift for groping her at a meet-and-greet photo session in June 2013.
Since electronic devices including cameras were not allowed in the courtroom, the closest anyone had to seeing Swift in the trial was through Kandyba’s work. And boy, did his sketches make headlines — many Swifties criticizing the artist for his work.
“LOL since when is Taylor Swift a 40-year-old mom??” one fan wrote on Twitter. “What a terrible court sketch. The sketcher needs to be fired.”
“How long before Taylor Swift sues this courtroom sketch artist?” asked another.
But according to Kandyba, the “Shake It Off” singer isn’t the easiest to draw.
“A person like Taylor Swift, who is very pretty — has perfectly proportioned dimensions on the face — is actually much harder [to sketch],” Kandyba told Fox-31 Denver. “The shape of her eyebrows has a really distinctive arch. They start off really close down here to her eyelid… Everybody’s got little idiosyncrasies about them that you want to pick up on.”
“It’s hard,” he continued. “Some people are just much easier to draw than others. If you give me somebody with a beard and glasses, got it!”
To prepare for trial, Kandyba spent weeks doing his research on Swift. “It made me very nervous going into it,” he said. “That’s why I did practice sketches ahead of time just to kind of try to figure out the nuances in her face.”
Though unlike still portraits, courtroom sketches have an additional challenge for the artist in that their subjects never stop moving.
“I’m probably sitting 35 feet away from her looking through binoculars — and if you’ve ever tried to draw anything looking through binoculars, it’s not the easiest thing in the world,” Kandyba explained to Westword. “You go more for resemblance, and hopefully you can at least get that.”
“I don’t think you can ever draw a personality like Taylor Swift well enough to have everybody go out and say, ‘That’s great.,’ ” he added.