Purple Magazine
— S/S 2014 issue 21

Petra Collins

Photo by Petra Collins

photographer / New York

interview by PAULA GOLDSTEIN DI PRINCIPE

 

PETRA COLLINS — My work is kind of dark. I started taking photos when I was 15, and a lot of it was simply me trying to figure out being a teenage girl.
PAULA GOLDSTEIN DI PRINCIPE — Where did you grow up?
PETRA COLLINS — In the suburbs of Toronto, then I moved to the city when I was 13.

PAULA GOLDSTEIN DI PRINCIPE — And how did you become an artist?
PETRA COLLINS — For me it’s just a natural part of living. It’s something I’ve been doing since I was little. I hate saying it because it sounds cheesy, but I literally have to do it to live.

PAULA GOLDSTEIN DI PRINCIPE — Richard Kern was a mentor of yours?
PETRA COLLINS — I did casting and modeled for him, but I also offered to assist him on shoots. I had no idea what I was doing. So it was basically just him teaching me how to set up lights. I learned a lot from him, both technically and also about how to conduct business. I go to him for advice, because I don’t have an agent or anything.

PAULA GOLDSTEIN DI PRINCIPE — You’re part of a community of emerging female artists. What drove you to set that up?
PETRA COLLINS — At first I didn’t know how to get my photos out. Submitting to magazines is such a catch-22 when you start out. People don’t want to give you a chance until someone else has given you a chance. So I was like, why don’t I just make this for myself and for other people that I really admire? I just started this website, The Ardorous, in my last year of high school. I contacted every single artist that I really loved and a lot of them responded.

Photo by Petra Collins Photo by Petra Collins

PAULA GOLDSTEIN DI PRINCIPE — Has working as part of that community helped you develop your own ideas?
PETRA COLLINS — I work on my own, but I think it’s really important to have a community of artists that you look up to and look at. The dialogue is important.

PAULA GOLDSTEIN DI PRINCIPE — You designed t-shirts for American Apparel depicting a vagina with menstrual blood. Did you set out to shock when you did that?
PETRA COLLINS — Well, I mean, in the beginning I really just felt compelled to do it. I just thought it was pretty and beautiful. I knew people were going to react to it, but I didn’t realize it would be that big a deal. I was floored.

PAULA GOLDSTEIN DI PRINCIPE — Do you think your graphic depictions of female sexuality have created more controversy because you’re a young woman? If it had been, say, a 45-year-old man, would it somehow have been different?
PETRA COLLINS — Yeah, people don’t like to even think of girls as having agency over their sexuality.

PAULA GOLDSTEIN DI PRINCIPE — Are people more comfortable with a young woman in the role of the muse as opposed to the protagonist?
PETRA COLLINS — Totally. That’s why I love Sandy Kim’s work. She is both at the same time.

PAULA GOLDSTEIN DI PRINCIPE — Do you think the Internet has empowered a generation of young people to be both muse and protagonist in a way they couldn’t be before?
PETRA COLLINS — Totally. For example, Tavi Gevinson’s magazine, Rookie, wouldn’t have happened if we didn’t have the Internet.

PAULA GOLDSTEIN DI PRINCIPE — You were banned from Instagram after sharing an image of your bikini line with some hair sticking out.
PETRA COLLINS — I think that has to do with us as a society always wanting women to be submissive and not in control of our own sexuality. Once we hit puberty, we’re taught to revert our bodies back to being prepubescent, back to looking like toys.

PAULA GOLDSTEIN DI PRINCIPE — Would you classify yourself as a feminist? Is that a word you would use?
PETRA COLLINS — It’s such an annoyingly complicated word. I would call myself a feminist, yes, but it’s such a negatively viewed word. I would rather just say that I like equality for women.

Photo by Petra Collins Photo by Petra Collins

PAULA GOLDSTEIN DI PRINCIPE — What’s next for you?
PETRA COLLINS — I really want to get into film at some point. That was my first love. It’s just hard to do because you need more people, a bigger budget, and more time. But Tavi and I are going to do something. We’re talking about it. I would do the visual side. Tavi and I really click creatively, but she’s the writer. I have no skill with beginning, middle, and end.

 

[Table of contents]

S/S 2014 issue 21

Table of contents

purple NEWS

purple BEST OF THE SEASON

purple INTERVIEW

purple FASHION WOMEN

purple FASHION MEN

purple LOVE

purple DOCUMENTS

purple BEAUTY

purple TRAVEL

purple NAKED

purple NIGHT

purple STORY

purple VISUAL ESSAY

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