Case Study: Saunders’ Drug-Induced Self Portraits

It has been oft disputed whether drugs hamper or heighten creativity. Both sides of the argument have been supported by scientific study, and it has been a subject of contention in the artistic community for as long as people have been doing drugs and making art.

Washington, D.C.-based artist/musician Bryan Lewis Saunders sought to visually map the effects of drugs on his creative process.

Having completed over 8,000 self portraits in the past decade, Saunders wanted to expand the scope of his self-representation. With his series “DRUGS,” he ingested a different type of drug every day and proceeded to make a self portrait while under the influence of each. The results are an astounding and profound visual demonstration of how each of the drugs variably affected everything from his motor skills to his choice of colour, drawing implements and the style in which each portrait was rendered.

Check out a selection of the pieces below, or visit Saunders’ online portfolio for the full series.


Bath Salts

7.5mg Hydrocodone / 7.5mg Oxycodone / 3mg Xanax


10 mg Loritab


Computer Duster (2 squirts)

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