Cameras were barred from the courtroom when Lindsay Lohan stood to be handcuffed and escorted to jail on Tuesday. But the court didn't banish Mona Shafer Edwards. The court sketch artist to the stars remained and drew arresting images that offer the only glimpses of Ms. Lohan's last free moments. She spoke to The Globe and Mail's Sarah Boesveld from her home in Los Angeles.
How long does it take you to sketch? You did a few of Lindsay Lohan.
I will say fewer than five minutes. I do the drawing and then, because I don't want to make a lot of noise, I go out of the courtroom either in the halls or outside to do the colouring. Then I quickly rush to the [ABC TV]trucks and they shoot the work. I do better work when it's really fast than if I have a whole day, which I really hate. You have to pay attention and your adrenalin is up.
Does having celebrities in your presence pump your adrenalin?
I'm not impressed by any of these celebrities. I find myself just getting really sad rather than impressed. I think many times people use their celebrity to just get away with things. When I did Britney Spears, when she was at her worst, I really just wanted to take her home and take care of her. I've got a daughter the same age. It just made me sad that the parents aren't around. The same thing with Lohan. I thought that her mother was more caring about how she looked and the father was looking around like who he could get interviews with. What I think I get most concerned about is that everybody knows what these celebrities look like. And while I'm not a portrait artist, I've got to make it look somewhat like the person. That's difficult to do.
How did you help us recognize Lindsay Lohan in court?
I just thought about her eyes. And then she's got a really pretty nose and those injected lips. I always pick up something where I think it's the strongest feature. And people have been talking so much about her mouth. For all of the subjects I sketch, I pay particular attention to body language and clothing and animation in the sense of their expression and movement.
What about her behaviour in court?
Oh! It was nothing. She was actually quite defiant, to tell you the truth. She was not crying, she did not apologize. She was pretty much resolute and, I guess, resigned to what was going on and that was it. Maybe she'll grow up a little bit.
How long have you been a court artist?
For ABC News? Since 1985.
How many sketches do you do a year?
Wow, I don't know. This has been a great year, but there are good years and bad years.
Oh, it's very depressing. It's like there'll be work every day, or two in a day, and then the phone doesn't ring for six weeks. In the meantime, I do other projects - I just did drawings for an Amnesty International video commemorating the death of Neda [Agha-Soltan, a protester killed during a political riot in Iran on June 20, 2009. Her death was captured on YouTube] I'm on TV sometimes playing a courtroom artist. I play myself. I was in Shark, Medium, in a few movies.
You said you don't like celebrities and yet you live among them.
My brother is a big filmmaker [president of Castlerock Entertainment, Martin Shafer] What's really funny is a lot of the people I draw I see at premieres and parties.
This interview has been condensed and edited.