Art, Sex and Feminism: 20 questions with artist Phoebe Collings James

A quick look into the life and mind of artist and model, Phoebe Collings James. Words by Karley Sciortino.

Phoebe Collings James is a British artist and part-time model, with a style I envy for its ability to be somehow uber glamorous and casual at the time time. Chic dress + sneakers vibes. She has a very calming, velvety voice, and she makes art that deals with the erotic, race, violence and feminism (good combo). She works across mediums, and has exhibited internationally, from New York to Antwerp to Mexico City to Beirut. She also founded Cunt Today, a collection of original writing and interesting/lol feminist musings from the internet. I particularly like this quote from Phoebe in Vogue last year: “Art is still a bit of a boys club and anyone who is female and young and at all desirable-looking to a male gaze is going to be immediately passed over for potentially not being serious. I think you have to let the work prove people wrong.”

Pics by Lotte Andersen, unless otherwise stated.

1. Where do you live, and why do you live there? I live in New York because it feels simultaneously like home and like being in a movie or a weird caricature of a city.

2.Your current hero: Zadie Smith. I love the way she speaks about London, it reminds me a lot of how I experienced the city growing up. The city is very contrary. The mix of people, cultures and class create a very complicated and energetic place to live.

e3106e8fb8e62bd0710b6b73262185493. A piece of art or an artist who greatly impacted your life: It was Picasso—my mum had a small, framed poster in our house from his blue period; a miserable girl clasping flowers. There was something about it that really got to me.

4. The outfit or piece of clothing that makes you feel the sexiest: Anything without underwear, especially dresses. Going commando is a very powerful feeling—you should try it!

5. Turn-ons? Someone who is good at flirting and HOT and smart or funny.

6. Porn or your imagination? Porn.

7. A book and a movie you recommend: OK, two books: The Word for World is Forest by Ursula le Guin, and White Girls by Hilton Als. As for films, I love action movies and thrillers. The new James Bond was amazing. I also watched an old Sharon Stone movie called Sphere the other day that was really good (I mean it was sort of bad but good). The Nina Simone doc was amazing and is still on Netflix. The old Hairspray is one of my favorites.

8. Your greatest fuck? I can’t say! He is such a fool, I wouldn’t want to give him the satisfaction. But we had sex more than 10 times over a weekend and the finale was very wet and hot. I had a white silk slip on and squirted so much it was drenched and see-through.

9. If you could have dinner with one person, dead or alive, who would it be? Paul Newman, possibly in his older Butch Cassidy days.

10. The movie you have seen the most times over the course of your life? X- Men, Baz Luhrman’s Romeo & Juliet, and the Matrix! On account of them all being great, but also by default that I owned them on DVD.

11. Your childhood hero(s): Storm & Jane Grey from X-Men, the Spice Girls (although I can’t remember now which one I liked best, but probably Gery), and Frida Kahlo.

12. The sexiest living person is: Christopher Walken or David Beckham or Thierry Henry.

slider-4 slider-3-1 slider-1-1Above 3 photo, of Phoebe and her work, by Andrew Woffinden

Your favorite place or setting to work: Somewhere quiet with lots of light.

Your favorite place or setting to relax: In the sun on a beach, naked with a drink and a book.

Guilty Pleasures? Chicken burger’s from rank chicken shops in London.

Your ideal date: Having drinks and a picnic in a park is quite good, because you can get a little tipsy, but also get to know one another better, because it’s daytime and more real. And you can make out under a tree with the suspense of not actually taking it further because there might be children watching and it’s illegal to fuck in public.

Something you admire in other people, that you wish you had more of: I wish I was better at small talk, so I wouldn’t end up in so many awk situations.


If you knew then what you know now about sex and relationships, what, if anything, would you do differently? Know and remember that 95% of the time I feel jealous rages it’s because I am procrastinating and need to do some work or because I don’t like or trust the person I am fuming at that much. The other 5% is usually because the person you are with is actually being a dick.

Your favorite restaurant: I love Italian food, I haven’t really got one place I go to religiously. Any good one will do. The best Italian I’ve had in Italy was in a restaurant set into the mountain just outside Vicenza which was really beautiful and delicious.

Best piece of advice you’ve ever been given? My mum gives me consistently good advice about everything. Particularly, her response to my complaining about anyone who’s giving me shit: “Fuck em!”




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