Let’s be honest: drugs are responsible for some of the world’s greatest art. From Robert Louis Stevenson to The Beatles to Snoop Dogg, artists of every stripe have long used intoxicants to alter their perceptions of reality and show us things we’ve never seen before.
Bryan Lewis Saunders is a multi-hyphenate creative who’s been a performance artist, videographer, poet, and painter, and the way drug use has influence art inspired him to attempt a unique and dangerous project: painting 30 self-portraits while on 30 different drugs. “Today we live in a narcissistic and obsessive culture, totally overflowing with drugs,” he explained in an interview. “And as an artist I am the filter.”
It should go without saying, but don’t try this yourself. Some of the substances listed below are incredibly dangerous for human beings, and only qualify as “narcotics” if you’re really, really desperate. Even a professional drug-taker like Saunders had to adjust his painting schedule after the experiment led to lethargy and “mild” brain damage.
The result is a unique, weird series of paintings, and a reminder that under the right circumstances, our brains can come up with some crazy weird shit.