In art, and in life, self-awareness is something that is necessary for growth. However, when that self-awareness turns into self-hatred, this can have devastating impacts not only on one's production but on one's livelihood.
In Ralph Steadman's case, his own self-awareness turned into criticism. However, his passion for drawing and creating art lived on, even though others saw them as meaningless. By rejecting the corporate world and pursuing art, Steadman chose to purse his passions of art and drawing.
This self-awareness in what he wanted can serve as an inspiration to everyone, whether your interests be business-related, medical, artistic or psychological.
A piece done by Ralph Steadman, titled "Don't draw, Ralph! It's a filthy habit…' HST. Self-Poortrait." The piece, UK issue no. 26, from 2006, was done with "pen, brush, and ink on paper with celluloid and collage and piece of ink-splattered paper from the desk."
The piece, done on a moderately sized rectangular piece of paper, framed upright, depicts Ralph Steadman as he sees himself, with glasses, a large nose and ears, and splatters of black and red ink covering parts of the canvas. Steadman's expression is angry, and the piece seems to simultaneously evoke a sense of self-awareness of his own passions and frustration with others' criticism. The small description of the piece located next to it on the wall states "Ralph - pen in hand in his piston-rod-and-flywheel spectacles - is accompanied by four tiny but significant vignettes of his career; a man at a desk holds his head in his hands; another screams; Sigmund Freud cocks a snook; and, in a final flourish, a Leonardo ornithopter takes flight from the STEADman signature."
The piece utilizes the small figures painted in certain areas of the piece to act as symbols of Steadman's life, and create an appeal to pathos by evoking empathy and understanding from viewers of his art.
For example, the man at the desk, with his head in his hands leads viewers of the piece to imagine a corporate hellscape, or Steadman's struggle with his own desires to draw, while others offer him little support. Another feature of the piece which is symbolically written to evoke a specific effect is the phrase "Don't draw, Ralph? It's a filthy habit….," which is coincidentally the title of the artwork. This blurb seems to be written for the explicit purpose of helping viewers of the piece understand the artist himself. Steadman has been told by many, directly or otherwise, to not pursue his passion of becoming an artist.
His angry expression in this self-portrait, as well as the dark colors and general depression which one feels from it, are indicators that Ralph Steadman has had struggles in his life, as anyone has, but the symbols of his later work and the impressive skill which he demonstrates in part of the piece prove that he has not let others' opinions limit his success or define his destiny.