Are Self Portraits Narcissistic?

Reading or hearing someone labeling your actions or behavior as narcissistic is not a nice thing at all.  Since you are here on this page, I assume that you agree with that (who wouldn’t).

However, you should keep in mind that in terms of clinical psychology, narcissism is a serious personality disorder.

Being called a narcissist or classifying your behavior as narcissistic based on a single or a few actions is a ridiculous oversimplification that casts aside all other important details.

So if you are wondering whether you are being narcissistic when drawing yourself, let me ask you this:

Are You Being Narcissistic?

Are you drawing yourself as a god from Greek mythology, a comic superhero, etc. to relish the fact that you are so much better than everyone else and entitled to be worshipped?  If the answer is no, then drawing yourself is probably not narcissistic.

And if you are afraid of what other people might think of you if they see you draw yourself, then you just “brush it off” by telling them the following:

  • Drawing yourself is a great way to practice and improve your drawing skills when working from observation.
  • It is practical since you don’t have to bother (or pay) other people to model for you.
  • You can test new techniques without having to worry about the result. It is only yourself after all 🙂
  • Self-portraits have been around for a very long time and many famous artists have portraited themselves. According to Wikipedia, one of the earliest known self-portraits is from 1433.

There is no reason to hold back from drawing yourself because you fear other people will believe that you are a narcissist.

Why Associate Portraiting Yourself With A Personality Disorder?

Without having much more than a gut feeling and a somewhat confirming result from something called Google Trends, an online tool that shows developments in interest over time, I believe that the word narcissist is being used more and more.

Perhaps the increasing time spent on social media has made people more sensitive to the fact, that we share a lot about ourselves. Status updates and selfies are posted on social media on a regular basis, and if you think doing a simple drawing of yourself could be narcissistic, then what would you call all these selfies and status updates?

If you can imagine a thing I will call a “self-centeredness meter” that gauges your level of being self-centered, I think it is fair to say that this kind of behavior is at least one or two levels above.


… to measure the degree of your narcissistic actions 😉

Online media might also have part of the blame. Using captivating headlines such as:

  •  “[Insert trait or behavior] linked to narcissism according to a new study“, or
  • Research reveals 9 things that narcissists are more likely to do

Combine that with “loose” interpretations of scientific studies, and we have a recipe for misinformation.

What Does It Mean To Be Narcissistic?

Let’s first take a look at a short definition from the Cambridge Dictionary.

Narcissistic: “having too much interest in and admiration for yourself”.

The important part here is: “too much”. Answering exactly how much is too much is a very difficult task and it is an answer that is open to debate. However, we are talking about a serious amount

Remember that narcissism is a personality disorder that among others also involves a need for constant and excessive admiration and an expectance of being recognized as the superior.

You can find more symptoms associated with the disorder at

It is a big misunderstanding to call someone narcissistic based on one or a few self-centered actions.

Many Reasons For Drawing Yourself

When drawing yourself you are choosing yourself over someone or something else, but as I listed above there can be many motives other than self-infatuation. And even if it is your motive, I believe the important thing is the “too much” part.

I am drawing myself to practice and because I want a drawing of myself as my profile picture and for my “about me” page. Since this is a website about drawing, I think it makes good sense 🙂

Right now I am practicing drawing using a drawing tablet. I am fascinated with the possibilities of digital drawing and want to create a lot of stuff. This includes portraits of myself, my wife and family, and maybe even some friends.

And if someone asks me why I am not drawing someone else, then the answer is simple.

I am drawing someone with who I have a close relationship. And, if my behavior was so narcissistic, I would never publish a self-portrait given the fact that my drawing skills are still pretty bad (or need a lot of improvement).

What About You?

Why do want to draw yourself?

If it is to share it, then who is your audience and what are you trying to achieve?

I am very interested in knowing. Use the comment section below if you want to share your reasons.

By the way, I put together a post on getting better at drawing faces that might be useful to you.

About the author: My name is Marcus, I am a lawyer (LL.M.) and the founder of this website. Besides sometimes doing lawyer stuff, I like to draw and improve my skills as a “digital artist”, and I write about what I learn on this website. If you want to know more about me or reach out, then you can click here.

0 comments… add one

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge