In March 1995, artist Bryan Lewis Saunders made a promise to himself to create a new self-portrait every day for the rest of his life. To this day, he has kept this promise; Saunders has made nearly 12,400 of them.

While this alone sounds like quite the experiment, in 2000, he set out to create an even more radical subseries within the project. The artist painted tens of self-portraits whilst being on mind-altering drugs, and so, "Under The Influence" was born.

Within weeks, he became lethargic and suffered mild brain damage. Saunders even became a frequent guest at the hospital. Nevertheless, he continued drawing. The artist sought "experiences that might profoundly affect his perception of self" and when you see just how different each of the drawings from "Under The Influence" is, you can't help but think he succeeded. Saunders said the brain damage resulted in "psychomotor retardation and confusion," but at least it was repairable. He's still conducting this experiment, but over greater lapses of time; though now he only takes drugs that are prescribed to him by a doctor.

Now have a look at the cool art, but don't try this at home.

More info: bryanlewissaunders.org | Instagram

#1

Psilocybin Mushrooms (2 Caps Onset)

Psilocybin Mushrooms (2 Caps Onset)

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Molly Block
Community Member
2 months ago

Ohh yeeahhhhhhhh! Can concur too.

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"The drug series itself began in 2000 when I moved into an 11-story building with the idea that I would make a documentary on all of the interesting characters there," Saunders told Bored Panda in a statement. "The building is well-known in Johnson City for its creeps and loonies."

After moving in, however, a really difficult period in the artist's life postponed the series. One of his good friends died in a fire, another tried to shoot himself in the head but ended up with brain damage and permanent confusion, and while he was still in the hospital, Saunders's lung collapsed.

#2

Ativan / Haloperidol (Doseage Unknown In Hospital)

Ativan / Haloperidol (Doseage Unknown In Hospital)

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Petra Christovová
Community Member
2 months ago

I do not get the fuss here (Bored Panda readers being offended by everything as usual .. :/) This is a psychoactive chemical substance too and if the artist had the opportunity to put in in the list as experiment, why not? The portrait has interesting informational value, he probably did not feel whole, like something is missing in his mind?

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To unwind, he went hiking with his buddy Brandon Bragg, something Saunders hadn't done before. "It was incredible," he said. "I had 5 pounds of art supplies with me! Every day, I saw tons of beautiful things in nature. I'm from the city and so every new kind of bark I saw, or toadstool, or wild animal gave me such a rich wealth of phenomena to draw and see myself in a totally different world. That experience was truly miraculous and healing. (To this day, that book is my favorite of all of the self-portrait books.) ... While Brandon and I were hiking one day, he asked me, 'Whatever happened with that documentary you were going to make with the veterans and the loonies?' And I told him how everything had happened so fast with the tragedies and how I thought the people would be really interesting to document, but in fact they were all on drugs, suffering in solitude, some too obese to physically leave their apartment, and for many, it was all they could do to get out of their recliners 3 times a day. I told him how when I first moved in, a paraplegic in a wheelchair showed me an encyclopedia of pills and said he could find at least one of every kind of pill in that book in the building and that book was huge."

#3

Alcohol

Alcohol

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wandile dludlu
Community Member
2 months ago

This one makes sense to me

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When Saunders and Bragg got back to NY, the artist unknowingly became very dehydrated, started hallucinating, and had a psychotic break during which he ditched his friend at a monastery because he thought he was trying to poison him. "I took the Greyhound straight back to Tennessee, where I had an epiphany. I thought, not only am I going to draw myself every day, but I'm also going to do a different drug every day. After all, there was one of everything in the building... And that was when I officially started the project." It was a combination of dark sadness and easy access that led Saunders to satisfy his drive to experience as many different things as possible.

#4

Marijuana (G13)

Marijuana (G13)

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Louis Hale
Community Member
2 months ago

Nice work

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He said the images first went viral in January 2011, and it was "excruciatingly distressing and morbidly terrifying." Saunders got quite a few hate mails. "They either wanted me to commit suicide myself, or they themselves wanted the honor of putting me down like an animal. Sleazy companies came out of the woodwork too," he recalled. "This time around it's been so much nicer and friendlier."

But the popularity of this one experiment is pretty big. "It gives people an opportunity to discover some of the other things I do or have done as well. Things that I feel are a lot more important, both socially and artistically. And it's also opened the door to communicate with some other incredible people who feel that they are alone in the world, and in one way or another are suffering and having trouble. I'm older and like to think I can be of some help in that department."

For more on Saunders and his work, check out his book.

#5

Morphine IV (Doseage Unknown)

Morphine IV (Doseage Unknown)

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Molly Block
Community Member
2 months ago

WOW!! Amazing. Is that pencil and watercolor????

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#6

LSD

LSD

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Blue
Community Member
2 months ago

That is utterly terrifying

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#7

1 sm Glass Of Absinth

1 sm Glass Of Absinth

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Monty Is Fiennes
Community Member
2 months ago

Absinth was disappointing...esp. when I realised what it tasted like....

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#8

20mg Valium

20mg Valium

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Monty Is Fiennes
Community Member
2 months ago

relaxed...then sleepy...

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#9

Abilify / Xanax / Ativan (Dosage Unknown In Hospital)

Abilify / Xanax / Ativan (Dosage Unknown In Hospital)

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chrissy
Community Member
2 months ago

this ones actualyy pretty good

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#10

Bath Salts

Bath Salts

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Flisey
Community Member
2 months ago

WTF?! Bath salts?

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#11

Opium

Opium

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Louis Hale
Community Member
2 months ago

Makes me wonder what, if anything, other famous artists might have been on

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#12

4mg Dilaudid

4mg Dilaudid

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Blinding_Darkness
Community Member
2 months ago

Omg so this is what melting on the couch looks like! I'm gonna go tell my brother he's been doing it wrong. XD

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#13

2 Bottles Of Cough Syrup

2 Bottles Of Cough Syrup

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LittleMissLotus
Community Member
2 months ago

wait... did he literally USE SOME OF THE COUGH SYRUP TO PAINT?

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#14

Nitrous Oxide

Nitrous Oxide

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Aragorn II Elessar
Community Member
2 months ago

NO

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#15

1/2 Gram Cocaine

1/2 Gram Cocaine

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Bharathi Raja
Community Member
2 months ago

This looks like a wild dream. There's a Jet Ski and he's been doing mathematical calculations too!

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#16

DMT (During And After)

DMT (During And After)

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Shinobi Shabby
Community Member
2 months ago

Everything that we experience, and everything that we not capable of experiencing... damn that deep

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#17

90mg Abilify (After 3 Months Usage 3x Maximum Dose)

90mg Abilify (After 3 Months Usage 3x Maximum Dose)

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Louis Hale
Community Member
2 months ago

A visually interesting interpretation, but very scary understanding

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#18

1 Shot Of Dilaudid / 3 Shots Of Morphine (In The ER With Kidney Stones)

1 Shot Of Dilaudid / 3 Shots Of Morphine (In The ER With Kidney Stones)

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EmiC _21
Community Member
2 months ago

cool drawing wtf kidney stones?!?! why is he still doing this?!?!?!?!

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#19

Khat (Chew And Tea)

Khat (Chew And Tea)

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Monty Is Fiennes
Community Member
2 months ago

Like the painting....

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#20

10mg Ambien

10mg Ambien

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MustardLemon
Community Member
2 months ago

Wait is that supposed to be his arm or someone else's??

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#21

3mg Klonopin

3mg Klonopin

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Monty Is Fiennes
Community Member
2 months ago

Hhahahhhahahaha...

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#22

Marijuana Resin

Marijuana Resin

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Blinding_Darkness
Community Member
2 months ago

Haha I love the bent paperclip over his face 🤣

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#23

Carbon Monoxide Inhalation

Carbon Monoxide Inhalation

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Vincent Philippart
Community Member
2 months ago (edited)

Carbon monoxyde inhalation? WTF, this is so dangerous

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#24

Celexa (Dosage Unknown)

Celexa (Dosage Unknown)

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Elaine Mattingly
Community Member
2 months ago

Hopeless.

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#25

15mg Buspar (Snorted)

15mg Buspar (Snorted)

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JessG
Community Member
2 months ago

What’s Buspar?

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#26

1 "Bump" Of Crystalmeth

1 "Bump" Of Crystalmeth

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Jeff Diamond
Community Member
2 months ago

GET THESE BEES OUT OF MY TEETH!

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#27

Pcp

Pcp

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Bharathi Raja
Community Member
2 months ago

He is disintegrating.

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#28

Heroin (Snorted)

Heroin (Snorted)

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Jill Ferguson
Community Member
2 months ago

Who knew H makes you grow an elephant nose?

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#29

Huffing Lighter Fluid

Huffing Lighter Fluid

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• I Love Lemons •
Community Member
2 months ago

L- lighter fluid?!

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#30

Huffing Gas (During And After)

Huffing Gas (During And After)

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maleahisgay
Community Member
2 months ago

g-gas?

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Note: this post originally had 66 images. It’s been shortened to the top 30 images based on user votes.