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The death care profession is more than just dealing with dead bodies, and we want to educate you about all the different career options you have in death care.

For the latest instalment of our ongoing series, Careers in Death Care: A Day in the Life, we caught up with Paloma Galzi to talk about what a forensic artist does and how her work helps identify missing and deceased children. Forensic artists use their artistic and technical talents to create Photoshop images and 2D and 3D facial structures to aid investigations concerning missing children.

Paloma holds a bachelor’s degree in fine arts from the California College of Arts in San Francisco, California. She earned a master’s degree in Forensic Facial Imaging from the University of Dundee in Scotland, which is presently the only institute in the world that offers a full forensic imaging program.

Paloma has been involved in several archaeological projects and forensic cases across the UK. Throughout that period of her career, she also worked on the UK National Crime Agency database, and was listed as an Expert Adviser in Forensic Imaging. The NCA fights organized crime, fraud, cybercrime, and protects children and young individuals from sexual abuse and exploitation.

Paloma later interned at The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) in the US, and has presented her work to various media outlets and associations, including the History Channel.




In 2018, she began working for The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children as one of only four full-time forensic artists working solely on missing children’s cases in the United States. She continues her work at NCMEC and has helped in several case recoveries and identifications throughout the years.


More from our Series, Careers in Death Care: A Day in the Life

Careers in Death Care – Your Career Options
Careers in Death Care: A Day in the Life of a DEATH DOULA
Careers in Death Care: A Day in the Life of a FUNERAL DIRECTOR
Careers in Death Care: A Day in the Life of a FUNERAL CELEBRANT
Careers in Death Care: A Day in the Life of an EMBALMER

Careers in Death Care: A Day in the Life of an Green Cemetery Director


Careers in Death Care: A Day in the Life of a FORENSIC ARTIST

Tell us about yourself and what brought you to become a Forensic Artist?

I am one of four full-time forensic artists working for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. We are the only four full-time forensic artists working on children’s cases for the entire United States.

I work on the age progression of long term missing children and create facial reconstructions of deceased children when positive identification has not been made. We rely on social media, where we post our images for the public to see, share, and hopefully recognize these children.

While finishing my BFA degree in California, I stumbled upon a hand-drawn wanted poster and discovered that you could draw for law enforcement for a living. I was fascinated.

What inspired you to become a Forensic Artist?

@galziforensicsCreepy case ##forensicart ##forensics ##science ##face ##truecrime ##pourtoi ##fyp ##pov ##murdertok ##crime ##share ##help ##foryou ##CA ##Yellow ##tiktokartists♬ look how far youve come – olivia


Back in college, I came across a hand-drawn wanted poster on TV, and I was stunned. I had no idea that drawing for law enforcement was something you could do, because at the time in my country (France), that did not exist. So, it piqued my interest right away. I researched the subject and found only one school in the world that taught forensic art, and it was in Scotland. Before graduating from my BFA program, I was accepted into the Master’s program of Forensic Facial Imaging at the University of Dundee, Scotland. I spent a year and a half studying and working on archaeological projects.

What is the biggest misconception about Forensic Artists?

That you have to be part of law enforcement to be a Forensic Artist. Is it more challenging? Yes, but it’s not impossible. Most forensic artist positions are available internally, so you need to make connections to even know about these positions. Forensic Artist jobs won’t be posted to typical job opportunity websites. For example, I did my internship at the company that I work for now. I stayed in touch with people at the company for more than three years, and when a position became available, I was recruited for it.

Run us through a typical day as a Forensic Artist

I usually work 2 to 3 cases a week. One case could be an age progression of a missing child, in which case it will take me about a day and a half to finish. I create these images with Photoshop, and by hand. If the case requires facial reconstruction in 2D or 3D, it will take a little longer. It takes around three days to create a 3D reconstruction with Freeform Modeling 3D software. The software allows me to sculpt virtually. Our case managers give us cases that need an update or a new image, too.

What’s one of the hardest things you encounter as a Forensic Artist?

When the child whose case you have worked on is recovered deceased. Sadly, it happens often.

What was one of the most memorable days you’ve had as a Forensic Artist?

When a child is either identified (from a facial reconstruction), or recovered alive (from an age progression). Usually, we get an email from our case manager informing us of the news, and sometimes we have pictures of the recovered child  from when they were alive. It has happened that someone from the general public has seen our image, and that led to a recovery or an identification. One example of this is The Bear Brook Murders, a case where one woman and three children were found deceased in 1985 and 2000, but were believed to have died between 1977 and 1981. We had updated their facial reconstructions a few years ago and released them online and on social media, including Facebook. A year later, in 2019, due to the public sharing those images online, three out of the four victims were finally identified.

How can someone interested in becoming a Forensic Artist start the process?

A Day in the Life of A FORENSIC ARTIST

Art is a big part of it. If you are not an artist or passionate about art, this will not be the field for you. I use Photoshop daily and use 3D software for digital sculpting. Anatomy training is crucial. As I mentioned before, there is a forensic art degree available in Scotland, UK. There also are workshops available in the US. I recommend attending a lot of workshops, communicating with people in the field to gain insight, and having contacts with law enforcement officials. Know the pioneers of forensic art, read all the books out there, and practice your drawing and sculpting skills. Know that it will take some time because forensic artist positions are hard to come by.

What type of education or training do you need to become a Forensic Artist? 

I have a Master’s degree in Forensic Facial Imaging from the University of Dundee, Scotland. It is presently the only place in the world where you can get this degree. The degree trains you on all aspects of forensic art: age progressions, composite sketches, facial reconstructions, and facial analysis comparison. Sadly, no degree such as this one exists in the US. However, some workshops are available to the general public. These workshops focus on one area of forensic art, such as age progressions or facial reconstructions. Most of them are available to law enforcement officials, but with a little push, you can get on the list for a few. Again, connections in this field are critical.



What advice would you give to someone starting out as a Forensic Artist, or interested in becoming a Forensic Artist?

@galziforensicsPart 3! For and by Ultimate. ##forensicart ##tiktokartists ##fyp ##forensics ##truecrime ##art ##children ##hope ##pov ##missingkids ##heretohelp♬ original sound – Galzi Forensics


Don’t give up because it won’t be easy to get a full-time job in the field right away. Start part-time, freelance, or start your own business. I started my own business doing this in London, UK, as a part-time job to build my reputation. I worked on cases with UK forces. I had another job on the side to pay the bills, but kept working on my forensics business. I also recommend attending all the conferences you can, and looking into the International Association for Identification, which has a forensic art section where you can become a member. Learn from the forensic artists that teach others, do the research, contact people, and make yourself available. Also: do not take on free requests when you are trying to make it as a forensic artist.

Remember to stay in touch with people in the field, and to keep your connections. That is how I was recruited for the job I have now!


More from our Series, Careers in Death Care: A Day in the Life

Careers in Death Care – Your Career Options
Careers in Death Care: A Day in the Life of a DEATH DOULA
Careers in Death Care: A Day in the Life of a FUNERAL DIRECTOR
Careers in Death Care: A Day in the Life of a FUNERAL CELEBRANT
Careers in Death Care: A Day in the Life of an EMBALMER

Careers in Death Care: A Day in the Life of an Green Cemetery Director


Do you currently work in the end-of-life industry? Would you like to be featured in a future Careers in Death Care: A Day in the Life article? Please contact us with your job title and tell us about your experience in the industry!

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