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Bryan Lewis Saunders
January 19, 2011 6:32 AM   Subscribe

'On March 30th 1995, I started doing at least one Self-Portrait everyday for the rest of my life. At present I have over 7,900 of them. [...] After experiencing drastic changes in my environment, I looked for other experiences that might profoundly affect my perception of the self. So I devised another experiment where everyday I took a different drug and drew myself under the influence.'
posted by shakespeherian (47 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite

 
What a wonderful project! I hope you'll keep these and share your project further.
posted by FilmJulie at 6:36 AM on January 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


(It's not shakespeherian's project)

But it's still kind of nifty.

I am skeptical of the drugs one, though.
posted by empath at 6:37 AM on January 19, 2011


Seems a risky project, not only because of the inherent risks of taking a bunch of different drugs. What if one of the portraits, perhaps one created while under the influence of a particular risky street drug, turned out really amazingly great? I think there would be a terrible temptation to do it again and again, not necessarily chasing the high for its own sake but as a source of inspiration.
posted by jedicus at 6:43 AM on January 19, 2011


The length of the project is admirable, but the idea is boring and the results are boring. I don't believe the drug self portraits, and if he's been drawing daily since 1995 he should feel disappointed at his lack of progress because they're all much of a muchness.
posted by fire&wings at 6:43 AM on January 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


The drugs ones are actually really cool-looking and interesting, but, speaking as a supporter of responsible drug use, that doesn't seem very... responsible.
posted by oinopaponton at 6:44 AM on January 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Cocaine is a hell of a drug.
posted by Joe Beese at 6:48 AM on January 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


That's a hell of a lot of drugs. He must have a high tolerance to hydrocodone, oxycodone and Xanax to take that much and still be lucid enough to make a self-portrait.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:55 AM on January 19, 2011


No fear of redundany burnout at this point.
posted by Senator at 7:00 AM on January 19, 2011


I don't think they're "much of a muchness" at all. To the contrary, I think they're a remarkable self-document. After 15 years, though, I would have a hard time coming up with an original self-portrait too.
posted by blucevalo at 7:01 AM on January 19, 2011


i came in here to say something like, 'well, that's about the height of arrogance, isn't it?' then i looked at the pics. whoa. good stuff. it's almost a pity that 'everyday for the rest of my life' appears to be somewhere in the near future, given his penchant for drugs and (apparently?) pain.
posted by msconduct at 7:03 AM on January 19, 2011


It's a pretty cool (and scary) idea, but the fact that he used so many techniques kinda detracts from the project – it's impossible to know how much of the differences in his perception of the world and his visualisation of it are to do with his choice of medium, as opposed to the drugs.
posted by dudekiller at 7:04 AM on January 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


The problem is, after being presented with all of them at once, I kind of hate his face.
posted by The Whelk at 7:07 AM on January 19, 2011 [12 favorites]


I would enjoy the pictures more if my grumpy inner pedant could get past his confusion between "everyday" and "every day".
posted by caution live frogs at 7:07 AM on January 19, 2011


Fascinating and frightening at the same time.
posted by ralenys at 7:09 AM on January 19, 2011


The drug portraits are fascinating.
posted by SPUTNIK at 7:09 AM on January 19, 2011


i'm also digging on the sound recordings.
posted by msconduct at 7:10 AM on January 19, 2011


The rest of the description from the drugs link:

"Within weeks I became lethargic and suffered mild brain damage. I am still conducting this experiment but over greater lapses of time. I only take drugs that are given to me."

He's also a double spacer.
posted by Evilspork at 7:12 AM on January 19, 2011


Reminded me a bit of Louis Wain cats.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:12 AM on January 19, 2011


And I forgot to link what I originally came in here to link.
posted by Evilspork at 7:15 AM on January 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


The drug self-portraits seem to be evidence more of his conceptions about the drug, influenced by public opinion, no doubt. They don't seem to reflect accurate evidence about the neurological influence of the drugs on his artistic process. The range of media and technique he uses makes it impossible to tell how much of the art reflects drug influence.
posted by kozad at 7:16 AM on January 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


He's also a double spacer.

Look I didn't say I endorsed this reckless behavior.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:16 AM on January 19, 2011 [8 favorites]


this guy seriously needs to meet bob ostertag from his pantychrist stage.
posted by msconduct at 7:19 AM on January 19, 2011


I expected to hate these, but they're actually interesting.
posted by creasy boy at 7:21 AM on January 19, 2011


I don't even know what half these drugs are. Risperdal? I need to start googling.
posted by spicynuts at 7:27 AM on January 19, 2011


Reminded me a bit of Louis Wain cats.

I was going to say that, actually, but couldn't remember the name.
posted by empath at 7:31 AM on January 19, 2011


Yeah, I think the number of these marked "dosage unknown" or "in hospital" or both tell you what you need to know about the sanity of the guy's choices. Dude made some cool art, though.
posted by nebulawindphone at 7:36 AM on January 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Interview with the artist about his drug use.
posted by jet_manifesto at 7:52 AM on January 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


Dosing the great artists:

Rembrandt - Valium
Arcimboldo - Morphine
Giacometti - Butalbital
Schiele - Cough syrup
Schiele - Meth
posted by Iridic at 7:56 AM on January 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


10mg Adderall
10mg Ambien
15mg Buspar (snorted)
4 Butalbitals (doseage unknown)
1/2 gram Cocaine
2 bottles of Cough Syrup
1 "Bump" of Crystalmeth


Really?

1 shot of Dilaudid / 3 shots of Morphine (in the ER with kidney stones)

You don't say?
posted by DLWM at 7:56 AM on January 19, 2011


Jesus christ. Huffing gas? He can't be for real. That is the single stupidest way to have a terrible time.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 7:58 AM on January 19, 2011


MetaFilter: The length of the project is admirable, but the idea is boring and the results are boring.
posted by Rory Marinich at 7:59 AM on January 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


When Brandon and I got to NY, I unknowingly became very dehydrated and started hallucinating and had a psychotic break and ditched him at a monastery because I thought he was trying to poison me. I took the greyhound straight back to Tennessee where I had an epiphany. I thought not only am I going to draw myself everyday, I'm going to do a different drug everyday, after all there was one of everything in the building...

And that was when I officially started the project.


Well, naturally.
posted by ook at 8:35 AM on January 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Guy seems a bit nuts. And also, his "normal" self portraits all seem very different from each other, so there's no real way to get any sense of how the drugs are causing different kinds of art
posted by delmoi at 8:43 AM on January 19, 2011


If I had to draw a picture of myself every day I'd start taking drugs too.

He's clearly self-obsessed, but he is at least good at it.
posted by dickasso at 8:44 AM on January 19, 2011


The thing about the drug influenced portraits is that he seems to have abandoned a baseline for comparison. It doesn't look like he is trying to illustrate a "straight" portrait, he is employing different techniques for different drugs. That makes it difficult to discern the effect - if any - the drug is having on him. I suspect he has a pretty high tolerance for drugs in general, which also sort of skews the results.

Not that this is any kind of scientific experiment, mind you. I am just thinking that the gimmick of creating-under-the-influence loses even gimmick value when the result is indistinguishable from sober creations.

He's not a bad illustrator or artist, though a lot of the work is unremarkable. Seems to me he is still looking for his "voice" as they say. Making his subject the one consistent thing in the series is an attempt at that, but any individual piece doesn't - and can't - convey that.
posted by Xoebe at 8:44 AM on January 19, 2011


Wow, that guy is livin' the dream. I been doing it all wrong. Most of my daily self portraits are under the influence of 2 cups of deli coffee and a pack of ding-dongs.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:27 AM on January 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Pretty awesome. I wish I could say I had created something that remarkable. Great stuff.

They don't seem to reflect accurate evidence about the neurological influence of the drugs on his artistic process.

Why not? Sure, (like anyone) he will be influenced by preconceptions, but unless he's lying, he actually did draw all these while under the influence of those substances.

If this were a better world, he'd be getting a genius grant.
posted by mrgrimm at 9:42 AM on January 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


MetaFilter: The length of the project is admirable, but the idea is boring and the results are boring.

I feel like this may be a project that may be boring to pretty much anyone except the artist. I think it takes good amounts of patience, endurance, and inventiveness to set out to create so many self portraits day after day, year after year. I think he's probably learned a lot about technique and vision just by choosing the same subject over and over and working out a new way to see it. It's a bit wacky and I'd like to see what other works he's made, but I think he's proven that, at least for him, it isn't so boring an idea.

I do like the results, FWIW. It's wonderful to see so many techniques and lines depicting roughly the same thing over and over, it's a bit magical to me.
posted by fantodstic at 9:51 AM on January 19, 2011


My daughter's homework this week is to draw a self-portrait. I want to show her these because many do a good job demonstrating the proportions that she's supposed to use. I probably won't because some of them are pretty freaky
posted by vespabelle at 9:54 AM on January 19, 2011


Addendum: OOps, Rory, I was addressing his previous project. Not the current one with the drugs, which I think you're referring to. I don't know how I feel about that one...
posted by fantodstic at 9:56 AM on January 19, 2011


I intentionally drew a drunk self-portrait for one of my art classes in college. I think I got a B.
posted by Metroid Baby at 11:04 AM on January 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Bryan Lewis Saunders: Ultimate Narcissist
posted by zephyr_words at 11:23 AM on January 19, 2011


I was addressing his previous project. Not the current one with the drugs, which I think you're referring to. I don't know how I feel about that one...

The drug-influenced self portraits are a part of his ongoing daily self portrait project.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:18 PM on January 19, 2011


Doing a drawing a day for years is admirable but to focus exclusively on oneself? To me, that makes this a sad project. Self-incestuous. Creepy.
posted by chance at 5:20 PM on January 19, 2011


maybe snorting was what I'm missing with my Buspar. (15 mg taken once isn't exactly going to make you start seeing pink elephants. with the other common prescription drugs, he mentioned he'd taken them for a couple of weeks)
posted by rubah at 6:41 PM on January 19, 2011


Xoebe> The thing about the drug influenced portraits is that he seems to have abandoned a baseline for comparison. It doesn't look like he is trying to illustrate a "straight" portrait, he is employing different techniques for different drugs.

My experience of Drawing Under The Influence* is that part of the fun is that different drugs do make different techniques easier. I have an alternate identity for getting drunk and drawing sloppy, wild porn; she will giggle and say something's good enough a hell of a lot earlier than sober me or stoned me. Stoned me sometimes has astounding powers of visualization, and occasionally draws pretty complicated things direct in pen that sober me would have to pencil out first. Stoned me also sometimes gets into detailing a piece a lot further than sober or drunk me. And sometimes she gets really abstract and geometric; there's one sketchbook that deteriorated into weird hand-lettered typography.

The variety of methods he uses is not uncommon; some people simply play with a hell of a lot of media, especially when working spontaneously. Most 'draw something every day' projects I see tend to become multimedia simply because you get bored working with the same tool in the same way every day; sometimes you get a wild hair up your ass and give in to the urge to pull out a rarely-used medium, or to draw like a child with a crayon, or to ink with your own blood. (Which, according to a friend who did this years ago, is a hell of a lot harder than you think it is.) Some days you've got the time and desire to do a serious piece, some days you just dash off a quick bit of jokey crap to fulfill your self-imposed obligation.

Also, the adder-drawn-on-Adderall, with a zillion meticulously-rendered scales, is totally true to what friends who've been on it say it does to their art...

* just alcohol and thc, I'm much less adventurous than this dude is
posted by egypturnash at 11:41 PM on January 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


This is very impressive. What a fountainhead. I like how the weed portraits are the funniest ones. But I guess he isn't a guy that's easy to get along with.
posted by nicolin at 2:52 AM on January 20, 2011


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