Joseph W. Papin

Joseph W. Papin, (September 7, 1931 – March 9, 1992) also known as Joe Papin was a reportorial artist, illustrator, courtroom sketch artist, and political cartoonist.

Papin was born September 7, 1931 in Saint Louis, Missouri. He attended Ohio State University where he received his Bachelor of Fine Arts in 1955. He became a commissioned Lieutenant for the U.S. Army in 1955 and worked for the Army Pictorial Center, where he made training films for the Defense Department. He married Jane Arlene Scatterday on June 25, 1955. They had five children. He died on March 9, 1992 at the age of 60 from melanoma.

Joe Papin’s first assignment in New York City came from Russell Lynes, managing editor of Harper’s Magazine. Ben Rathbun’s article, „New York’s gay old lady: Whatever is happening to the Times?“ included a five-page spread of Joe’s sketches of „behind-the-scenes at the New York Times.“. After that his career took off. He was a freelance artist from 1957 to 1992, Papin’s work appeared in USIA’s American Illustrated, Harper’s Magazine, Newsweek, Business Week, The Reporter, American Heritage, Forbes, Playboy, The National Review, and other specialty magazines. Among newspapers he contributed to the Herald Tribune, The New York Times, and worked on staff at The New York Daily News, where his reportorial drawings depicted the major trials for over twenty years and his illustrations and political cartoons accompanied editorial articles. He illustrated over forty-five adult and children’s books, lectured at colleges and for professional societies, gave many demonstrations, and had his work featured in national art shows. His courtroom art collection of over 4,000 drawings currently resides at the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. and is in the process of being catalogued. Papin’s work was featured in the Library of Congress exhibit „Drawing Justice: The Art of Courtroom Illustrations“ which ran from April 27, 2017 to Oct. 28, 2017. “While the legal system is generally open to all of us, courtroom artists open the door — via our newspapers, televisions and now computers — to gain privileged access to a trial,” the library’s Sara Duke, the show’s curator, says of the unique role of these talents. “But artists don’t act merely as recorders of a moment. They distill for us how people gesture, their relationships to other people in the room and moments of action in the court that define the trial.”

His drawings often accompanied Theo Wilson’s articles. Theo Wilson, who also worked for the Daily News, described as the „best-known, most respected trial reporter in the world“ by the New York Reporters Association, tells of some of the trials they covered together in her memoir Headline Justice, Inside the Courtroom- The Country’s most Controversial Trials. Wilson refers to Papin’s work as „remarkable“ and Papin as a „miracle worker“ due to his accomplishments during the Patty Hearst Trial. The art show „Reportage Drawing: Four Courtroom Artists,“ according to Robert Long of the East Hampton Star, brought „several of the most notable, most highly visible practitioners in the genre here. Joseph Papin, perhaps best known for his work for the Daily News (including a famous front-page rendition of David (Son of Sam) Berkowitz while under cross-examination), tends to work with heavy, fast strokes, with little filling in, when portraying emotional moments of a trial.“ His work was exhibited nationally along with eight other artists in an art show that traveled the U.S. „Papin’s pen and ink drawings suggests the nervous energy, the vagaries, and the uncertainties of any trial“ said Suzanne Owens, one of the curators of the Syracuse University art show. He was the recipient of seven Page One Awards for graphic excellence in journalism and the New York Press Club Art Award for Reportorial Art/Courtrooms: Outstanding Artist of the Year. Writer and editor Scott Edelman refers to „Joe Papin, famed courtroom sketch artist.“ While at the New York Daily News he covered most major trials in between the years 1970 and 1991, including such famous trials as Watergate, Patty Hearst, Jean Harris, the Son of Sam (David Berkowitz), and the Pizza Connection Trial.

In 1959 American Artist Magazine featured an article about Papin entitled The Street is my Studio which detailed his work as a artist. Papin’s work encompassed the areas usually covered by photographers. He drew U.N. scenes, military and international subjects, concerts, parades, horse races, hospital emergency rooms, and street scenes. New York Press Club’s Byline Magazine wrote „Joe’s facile pen captures news events at places where cameras may be barred.“ Author Nick Meglin said Joseph Papin, „carried a sketchbook and drew in subways, in coffee shops, on street corners.“ Eric Stenson of the Asbury Park Press said „Joseph Papin is a reporter… His pen interprets a story with images rather than words. Ken Aktins from the Denton Record-Chronicle said „Joe Papin is a reporter. He works for one of the largest newspapers in United States—the Daily News—and has covered some of the most historic moments in recent American history. His professional title is artist. The tools of his journalistic trade are an assortment of pens and a sketchpad.“ Atkins continues with „Papin has been drawing scenes of life—the grand and the commonplace…from a straightforward, objective viewpoint.“

Papin’s work stirred up some trouble during the John Gotti Trial in 1986. Anthony Rampino and John Carneglia were not thrilled with the way they were being represented in Papin’s drawings. And John Gotti did not like the fact that Papin was drawing the prosecutor too pretty. The headline of The Daily News article on September 5, 1986 read Our art D.O.A., Gotti Complains. „Reputed mob boss John Gotti and his pals threw boastful taunts at Daily News courtroom artist Joe Papin.“ A few days later another article appeared in the Daily News entitled Murder Ink Jabbing Pen at News. „Two pals of alleged crime boss John Gotti turned critic again yesterday, informing Daily News Courtroom illustrator Joe Papin they plan artistic retribution.“ Papin was told during an elevator encounter in Brooklyn General Courthouse that they are embarking on careers as sketch artists….We’re working on a good drawing,“ ….We’re going to publish it in the Mafia magazine.“ UPI United Press International published the story the next day.

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