Petra Collins

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Petra Collins
Born (1992-12-21) December 21, 1992 (age 27)
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Alma materOntario College of Art and Design

Petra Collins (born December 21, 1992)[1] is a Canadian artist, photographer, fashion model and director who rose to prominence in the early 2010s. Her photography is characterized by a feminine, dreamlike feel, informed in part by a female gaze approach. She is a resident photographer for Rookie magazine and a casting agent for Richard Kern. She has also directed a number of short films, including music videos for Carly Rae Jepsen, Lil Yachty, Selena Gomez, and Cardi B. In 2016, Collins was chosen as a face of Gucci. She has been labeled an "it girl" by photographer and mentor Ryan McGinley and by Vanity Fair and The New Yorker magazines.

Early life[edit]

Petra grew up in Toronto where she attended Rosedale Heights School of the Arts.[2] It was at Rosedale at the age of 15, Collins began practicing the art of photography.[3] Collins attended Ontario College of Art and Design for two years to study artistic criticism and curatorial practice.[2]

Early career[edit]

Collins began taking pictures in high school.[2] She met Richard Kern while assisting him on a shoot, and he became her mentor.[2] Simultaneously, Collins became a frequent subject of photographer Ryan McGinley, and would go on to become one of his proteges.[4] Collins began venturing into the art world, appearing in shows that featured her own work, and curating shows featuring her art collective, The Ardorous. Coinciding with the time of Collins's rising success in the art world, her Instagram account was removed from the platform after the artist posted a photo of herself unwaxed in a bikini. Following the removal of her account, Collins wrote an essay for The Huffington Post, speaking out against the misogyny which informs media depictions of women's bodies. In 2014, Collins' first solo exhibition, "Discharge", a photo series spanning between 2008 and 2014, from ages 15–21,[5] was hosted at the Capricious 88 Gallery in New York. "Discharge" continued to push the narrative of a more authentic view of girlhood and womanhood that her controversial Instagram bikini shot had begun. Collins went on to publish the photo series as a book with Capricious Publishing in 2014.

Art and photography[edit]

In 2010, photographer Petra Collins created the website "The Ardorous" as an online platform for young female artists. Reacting to the male-dominated art world, the group's goal is to question contemporary ideologies of femininity and recast women in positive, empowered roles. Petra Collins edited a book called "Babe" with a foreword by Tavi Gevinson, which is a culmination of over 30 international artists selected by Petra. The book centers around female identity and proves that feminism and sexuality aren't mutually exclusive.[6]

Collins has been featured and curated over a dozen shows since 2011, spanning from galleries in New York, to Miami's Art Basel, to shows at San Francisco's Ever Gold [Projects] in conjunction with SFAQ.[7] She is a frequent editorial photographer for such publications as Vogue,[8] Purple Magazine, i-D Magazine, Wonderland Magazine, Dazed & Confused, L'Officiel, Elle, and Love Magazine.[9] She has also photographed campaigns for brands such as Levi's, Adidas, Cos, Calvin Klein, and Stella McCartney.[9]

In 2016, Collins was named one of Dazed & Calvin Klein's 100 Creatives Shaping Youth Culture[10] and one of Vogue's 40 Creatives To Watch in 2016.[11] Collins was also named one of 30 Artists to Watch by Artsy.[12]

On Saturday, March 18, 2017, Collins collaborated with artist Madelyne Beckles at The Museum of Modern Art in New York City, New York with their performance piece "In Search of Us". It was a live, 3-hour long tableau hosted on Instagram, that featured live music by JunglePussy and a set by DJ Madeline Poole. The piece draws inspiration from the 1992 Essay "Olympia's Maid: Reclaiming Black Female Subjectivity" by Lorraine O'Grady. The live performance celebrates the female form as the performers confront traditional representations of the female form throughout the canon of historical art.[13]

Collins will be hosting her first public art piece with Contact Photo on April 29, 2017, at King and Spadina in Toronto, Canada.[14]


Collins has also become heavily involved in directing, ranging from documentaries, to music videos, to more abstract art pieces. In 2015, she directed a three-part documentary series entitled Making Space, which documents and explores what it means to be a young person in today's constantly changing, hyperconnected world. The documentary follows young girls in dance, as they discover and connect with the world around them through that medium. Other projects Collins has directed include Carly Rae Jepsen's music video for her 2015 single 'Boy Problems' and Cardi B's 2018 single 'Bartier Cardi'.[15] She has also directed advertisements for Gucci, Adidas, and Nordstrom. Her directorial work reflects the same colorful, airy aesthetic found in her photography.[16]



  • Carly Rae Jepsen - "Boy Problems" (music video)
  • Adidas StellaSport - "Break a Sweat" (film)
  • Making Space - "Time Will Tell" feat. Blood Orange (music video)
  • Making Space Part 3 of 3 (film)
  • Making Space Part 2 of 3 (film)
  • Making Space Part 1 of 3 (film)
  • Drive Time for COS (film)[16]


  • Georgia O'Keefe - Interpreted by Petra Collins (film)
  • Lil' Yachty - "All In" (film)
  • Lil' Yachty - "Keep Sailing" (music video)


  • Hungarian Dream for Gucci Eyewear (film)
  • Spring 2017 at Nordstrom (film)
  • Selena Gomez - "Fetish" (music video)


  • Cardi B - "Bartier Cardi" (music video)
  • "A Love Story" (film)

Modeling and acting[edit]

In 2014 and 2015, Petra was cast in a supporting role in Amazon's award-winning TV series, Transparent.[11]

Collins has previously been featured as a model in Calvin Klein's campaign.[17]

In 2016, Petra was tapped as a new face of Gucci, and walked in their 2016 F/W Fashion Show in Milan.[18] She also starred in their 2016 F/W campaign.[19]

Literary work[edit]

Collins' first book is "Discharge", published by Capricious Publishing.[20] "Discharge" features photos chronicling 2008-2014 from ages 15 to 21, and aims to eliminate the immaculate, pure vision of girlhood perpetuated in mainstream culture. The series was first an exhibition of the same name, hosted at the Capricious 88 gallery.

Her second book, "Babe", an art and photography collection featuring the work of thirty female artists from around the world, including her own, was published in 2015 by Random House.[21] The book explores feminine identities from an all-inclusive, female point of view. Some of the artists featured include Arvida Bystrom, Sandy Kim, Harley Weir, Jeanette Hayes, and Kristie Muller, plus a foreword written by Tavi Gevinson of Rookie Magazine.[22]


When shooting photography, Collins exclusively uses 35mm film.[23]


  1. ^ "CV". Petra Collins. Archived from the original on January 1, 2019. Retrieved February 2, 2013.
  2. ^ a b c d "Going back to school with teenage fashion photography phenom Petra Collins".
  3. ^ "People to Watch: Petra Collins looks through lens of next-wave feminism - Toronto Star".
  4. ^ "Ryan McGinley, the Pied Piper of the Downtown Art World". The New York Times. November 21, 2013.
  5. ^ "See: 'Discharge,' Petra Collins's First Solo Exhibition". The Cut. February 28, 2014. Retrieved April 24, 2017.
  6. ^ Collins, Petra (2015). Babe. Prestel Verlag. ISBN 978-3-7913-8103-9.
  7. ^ AnOther. "Petra Collins on Collective Crying and Celebrity Culture".
  8. ^ Wagoner, Mackenzie. "Petra Collins's Cool-Girls Club: Capturing Pat McGrath's Late-Night Makeovers".
  9. ^ a b "editorial - Portfolio Categories - Petra Collins".
  10. ^ Dazed (February 8, 2016). "Petra Collins".
  11. ^ a b Jansson, Mark Guiducci, Mikael. "Be Yourself! 44 Stars-to-Watch Wear Spring Fashion Their Way".
  12. ^ "30 Emerging Artists to Watch This Spring". April 13, 2016.
  13. ^ "PopRally Presents Petra Collins: In Search of Us | MoMA". The Museum of Modern Art. Retrieved April 24, 2017.
  14. ^ "Instagram post by Petra Collins • Apr 17, 2017 at 3:11pm UTC". Instagram. Retrieved April 24, 2017.
  15. ^ Cardi B (April 2, 2018), Cardi B - Bartier Cardi (feat. 21 Savage) [Official Video], retrieved April 27, 2018
  16. ^ a b "Films • Petra Collins". Retrieved April 24, 2017.
  17. ^ "Watch: Calvin Klein's CK One x Petra Collins x Dev Hynes x Ali Michael & More - Fashion Magazine - News. Fashion. Beauty. Music. -".
  18. ^ Piercy, Mackenzie Wagoner, Catherine. "Petra Collins on Walking in Gucci's Fall Show—And How Those Fuzzy Red Curls Became Her Signature".
  19. ^ Yotka, Steff. "Petra Collins Cements Her Status as Gucci's New Muse".
  20. ^ "Discharge • Petra Collins". Retrieved April 24, 2017.
  21. ^ Magazine, W (June 28, 2015). "What a Babe".
  22. ^ "Babe • Petra Collins". Retrieved April 24, 2017.
  23. ^ Lampe, Lilly (March 11, 2014). "Zeroing In On Adolescent Girlhood, Petra Collins Shoots From the Hip".