Elizabeth Williams (artist)

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Elizabeth Williams
Courtroom artist Elizabeth Williams sketching Dominique Strauss-Kahn at his New York court hearing on July 1, 2011
EducationWashington University in St. Louis
Parsons The New School for Design
Syracuse University
Otis Art Institute
Alma materParsons The New School for Design
Known forCourtroom artist

Elizabeth Williams is a New York City-based illustrator, courtroom artist and author.[1] She has covered many high-profile court cases such as those of John DeLorean, Martha Stewart, John Gotti, Michael Milken, Bernard Madoff, Dominique Strauss-Khan, Michael Cohen, and the Times Square Bomber.[2][3][4] Williams is the author with true crime writer Sue Russell of The Illustrated Courtroom: 50 Years of Court Art, a history of American courtroom sketch artistry published by CUNY Journalism Press in 2014.[5][6]



Williams’ career began in Hollywood, California, where she was a fashion illustrator for designers such as Michael Travis and in the atelier of Bob Mackie.[1][7] Following the suggestion of a teacher she decided to pursue the possible career as a court artist. While working as a fashion illustrator she went to an art show in San Diego, California, where she saw the courtroom art of well-known sketch artist Bill Robles.[1][8] After a meeting with Robles, she began to work as a courtroom artist.[7] The first court case she covered was the San Bernardino, California hearing of a child molester in 1980.[2][9]

After Williams met Robles at a trial in Los Angeles, California, that they were both covering and he began to mentor her.[10] The first high-profile trial she covered was the 1984 drug trafficking trial of John DeLorean for Los Angeles-based channel KABC-TV.[2] Later that year Williams returned to her native New York and began working as a courtroom artist in New York City.[10] While in New York City, Williams gained a reputation for reporting on white-collar crime.[1] She covered the trials inside traders Ivan Boesky, Michael Milken, Raj Rajaratnam, and Martha Stewart.[1] Williams also reported on the trials of financial figures such as Bernard Madoff, Bernard Ebbers, and Dominique Strauss-Khan.[3][11] Non-financial trials reported on by Williams include those of John Gotti, Times Square Bomber, terrorist Abu Anas al Libi, and Russian spy Anna Chapman.[2][5]

In 2012, 61 of Williams’ sketches depicting the Sean Bell trial were acquired by the Lloyd Sealy Library at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice.[12]

Along with crime writer Sue Russell, Williams authored The Illustrated Courtroom: 50 Years of Court Art, which was published in 2014 by CUNY Journalism Press. The book is a retrospective of American courtroom sketch art of high-profile trials produced from 1964 to 2014 and contains work from artists Howard Brodie, Aggie Kenny, Bill Robles, Richard Tomlinson, and Williams.[5]

Education and style[edit]

Williams studied art at the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts at Washington University in St. Louis, the Parsons The New School for Design, Syracuse University and the Otis Art Institute.[10] Much of her artwork is created with brush pens, colored pencils, oil pastel and oil paint sticks.[2]


  1. ^ a b c d e Alexandra Stevenson (April 14, 2014). "Capturing on Canvas the Downfall of Wall Street's Criminals". The New York Times. Retrieved July 22, 2014.
  2. ^ a b c d e Daniel Fitzsimmons (November 6, 2013). "Reporting By Drawing". New York Press. Retrieved July 22, 2014.
  3. ^ a b John W. Miller (December 13, 2011). "Live Blog: Sandusky Waives Right to Hearing". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved July 22, 2014.
  4. ^ "In this courtroom sketch, Michael Cohen, center, reads a statement in federal court in New York, Thu..." Associated Press. Archived from the original on 2018-12-09. Retrieved 2018-12-08.
  5. ^ a b c Justin Jones. "O.J., Martha, Jagger, and Manson: Capturing Celebrities in the Dock". The Daily Beast. Retrieved July 22, 2014.
  6. ^ Michael D. Goldhaber (June 12, 2014). "Legal Artistry: Courthouse Drama Drawn in Real Time". American Lawyer. Retrieved July 22, 2014.
  7. ^ a b Irene Plagianos (April 21, 2014). "50 Years of Courtroom Drama on Display at Downtown Gallery". DNAinfo New York. Archived from the original on August 12, 2014. Retrieved July 28, 2014.
  8. ^ Lynn Neary (June 22, 2014). "'The Illustrated Courtroom' Finds Art In Real-Life Legal Drama". National Public Radio. Retrieved July 28, 2014.
  9. ^ Chester Jesus Soria (April 29, 2014). "New York City artist captures courtroom history in new book". Metro New York. Archived from the original on July 29, 2014. Retrieved July 28, 2014.
  10. ^ a b c Julie Shapiro (July 3–9, 2009). "Artist captures the sketchiest character of all: Bernie Madoff". Downtown Express. Retrieved July 28, 2014.
  11. ^ Sarah Van Arsdale. "Elizabeth Williams: The Eye of a Sketch Artist" (PDF). New York Institute of Photography. Retrieved July 28, 2014.
  12. ^ "Classified Information the Lloyd Sealy Library Newsletter" (PDF). Spring 2012. Archived from the original (PDF) on July 28, 2014. Retrieved July 28, 2014.