Why Do Artists Create Self Portraits?

The New York Diner by collage artist Megan Coyle

A self portrait is a representation of an artist created by that artist. Self portraits have been made in every medium imaginable – photographs, paintings, drawings, sculptures, and many more. If you’re an admirer of art, and have frequented museums and galleries, you’ve most likely seen quite a few self portraits – and I have to admit that I have made quite a few self portraits over the years. So, why exactly do artists make self portraits? Here are a few reasons why:

1) Practice

Self portraits help artists tackle the figure. The more an artist can render a portrait, even if it’s just of her or his self, the better an artist can get at depicting people. The human form is a pretty complex subject to tackle, so the more practice, the better.

2) A Convenient Model

It’s common for artists to draw from life, which means using models. Hired models can be pricy, and that expense can add up, so drawing from life by looking in a mirror is a lot cheaper. Also, making self portraits is really convenient – you can always pose for yourself whenever you want to, while hiring models or having someone pose for you means you’ll have to figure out scheduling.

3) To explore themes and ideas in their artwork

Self portraits can also be used for a series exploring various compositions with underlying meaning, such as the exploration of the artist’s self.

4) Record the artist’s self

Self portraits can also be used to record the way the artist looked at the time the portrait was made.


So there you have it, a few reasons why artists make self portraits. If you’re an artist and have another reason why you make self portraits, feel free to reach out to me and let me know what it is!

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