We had the good fortune of connecting with Michael W. Streed and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Michael W., what do you attribute your success to?

Treating everyone with respect and giving them the time and attention they deserve. I come in daily contact with people of all ages, income level, education, health, rank, etc. Each one of them has a unique perspective on life and a story to share. Whether they represent a large company, small company or are individuals, they ALL receive the same treatment and level of respect.

I’m also freakishly prompt about answering phone calls and e-mails. I answer ALL of them. Customer service is the most important aspect about my SketchCop® brand. I want my customers to feel happy. I believe in a “win-win” way of doing business. It’s a delicate balance I know, but it’s important to me and vital to the continued success of my brand.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.

Being a forensic artist is a niche form of art. It’s a blend of art & science. Most important is the art of communication. There are also several other disciplines under the umbrella of forensic art such as age progression, forensic facial reconstruction, 1-to-1 facial comparison and analysis, to name a few and I’ve been fortunate to develop an expertise in all of them.

When I started my career I travelled around the United States to study under the best in the business. My career came full-circle in 2018 when I was invited to Ghana, West Africa to share my expertise in forensic facial imaging with the faculty and students at the University of Cape Coast. It provided me with a great perspective on global crime and reminded me how thankful I am for the opportunities my career has provided.

The skills and perseverance that contributed to much of my success has allowed me to make a significant difference in headline making cases and those that didn’t receive the same media attention but were no less important. To have my art responsible for taking some of the worst human beings off the street is a feeling that’s hard to describe.

It’s been hard work. And as much as it can be rewarding, it can also be frustrating. Many have a tendency to pay more attention to the finished product versus the struggle to get there. Memory is not perfect and neither are the people working hard to get past their fear to confront their attacker on canvas. Some are law-abiding citizens, some are criminals But when I work with them to create the faces of evil, they are all equal. If not for them I wouldn’t be successful as a forensic artist. It’s one of those careers where my day changes with a phone call or an e-mail. It’s definitely interesting and unusual. Never dull, that’s for sure. It’s been such a satisfying career I cannot imagine myself doing anything else. But I’ve always been attracted to professions that aren’t your typical ‘9-5’ careers. My police career for sure wasn’t that and neither is my career as a forensic facial imaging consultant/expert.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I’m lucky enough to be married to my best friend. We’ve had some amazing adventures together. But, if a childhood best friend travelled out my way, our itinerary might look something like this…

I would first introduce my best friend to the city I grew up in – Orange, located in central Orange County. To start the day we would enjoy a nice omelette at Urth Cafe or a Mediterranean style lunch at Byblos Cafe in Old Town Orange.

From there we would hit the Orange County coast and wind our way north to the Santa Monica Pier and then Sunset Boulevard.

Making our way east we would continue through Beverly Hills and Rodeo Drive before cruising the Sunset Strip and maybe hit Pink’s Hotdogs or Trejos Tacos.

Another area we would visit would be Farmer’s Market, Olvera Street and perhaps Union Station. From there head up to Griffith Park and Griffith Observatory to get a birds eye panorama of the city.

On the way back to the Inland Empire we would stop off at the Original Tommy’s World Famous Burger at Rampart and Beverly. During the remainder of the week perhaps drive back up to LA and see the Petersen Auto Museum, the Getty and the Los Angeles Police Museum to honor the long relationship I’ve had with the department as one of their police sketch artist during several periods starting in 1980.

Too much to see and do in one week in Southern California. But Los Angeles has such an allure I would for sure invite my best friend back often to see more.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?

There are many for sure. A few I might unintentionally forget.

The first person would be my Father. He instilled in me a strong work ethic and stressed honesty. My Mother demonstrated kindness and generosity.

My first mentor, Los Angeles Police Department Composite Artist Fernando G. Ponce taught me how valuable victims were and how to treat them with kindness, respect and dignity. Another mentor, Horace Heafner, was a well-known famous FBI Forensic Artist who taught me about humility. Horace created the police sketch of James Earl Ray, the assassin of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He worked on many other famous cases but you would never know it.

My wife and family have given me unconditional love and support that make it possible to do the important work I do.

I enjoy reading and watching biographies. From each one I take a quality and try to learn from it, including some of their bad ones. I try to appreciate and learn from everyone I come in contact with. It’s all part of the art of crime solving.

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Image Credits
Gino Innocentes Jim Dorsey

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