Vintage map

Browse all

Who is Petra Collins? The photographer whose aesthetic was stolen to create "Euphoria"

What you may not know about the Canadian artist

Who is Petra Collins? The photographer whose aesthetic was stolen to create Euphoria What you may not know about the Canadian artist

What if Sam Levinson had not created the aesthetic of Euphoria, but copied it? An interview Petra Collins gave to Hungarian magazine Punkt in January, in which the Canadian artist says she was personally contacted by the filmmaker to shoot a TV series based on her photos, has gone viral in the last few hours. Excerpts from the article have been posted on social media, "I moved to L.A. and worked for HBO for about five months. I was like, "I am directing the show." I created a whole world for it, did the casting, whatever. [And at] the last minute, HBO was like, "We are not hiring you because you are too young." Collins told how she oversaw the casting for the series and worked on it for five months before being fired at the last moment and was disappointed and shocked when she saw the first images of Euphoria: "A year later, I walked out of my apartment and saw this billboard [for Euphoria], and it’s exactly... a copy of my work. I started crying. I was so shocked. I mean, it happens to me so many times in my career but not on a scale like that."

@jstoobs Replying to @ this is genuinely so infuriating #euphoria #film #womeninfilm #petracollins original sound - stoobs

Reading these allegations outraged fans of the HBO show and Collins and sparked controversy over Levinson's misconduct, who was again accused of misbehaving with a female colleague. Remember when Rolling Stone revealed in March that The Idol, Levinson's controversial collaboration with The Weeknd, was originally directed by Amy Seinmetz, who abruptly dropped out despite completing "80 per cent" of the series in April 2022 because she was guilty of steering the project towards a "female perspective"? Now history is repeating itself, and Collins has not only been "duped" but has received neither recognition nor compensation, even though the aesthetic influence of her art in the series is obvious.


Who is Petra Collins?

Collins, artist, model, photographer, curator and filmmaker, is known today as one of the most exciting creative talents on the international scene. This is no coincidence, as her passion for the arts has always been a part of her. Born in 1992 to a Canadian father and a Hungarian refugee mother, Collins grew up in North York, Toronto, with her sister Anna. When a serious knee injury derailed her dream of becoming a professional dancer, she picked up a camera and began photographing Anna and her friends, trying to capture in pictures all the emotions of a complicated youth marked by learning difficulties, mental illness, financial problems and toxic love affairs. "Art for me was always a way to survive, but also a way to play. I wanted so much to be a teenager. I guess what I captured was half my angst and half the longing for something that never happened ... for that youth that I would love to relive," she said in an interview with NOWNESS.


Petra Collins' early successes and collaborations

After dropping out of school in the middle of the OCAD program because she could no longer fund herself, Collins moved to New York City with a suitcase full of negatives and began making a name for herself in the photography world, posting on Tumblr and collaborating with Rookie, Tavi Gevinson's online zine. The turning point came in 2013 when her Instagram account was suspended for a photo that showed her in an unshaven bikini. The story hit like a bomb and Collins was hailed as a feminist icon who champions natural beauty, creating such hype that the creative launched an entire project called Discharge. Since then, Collins has become an in-demand fashion and portrait photographer, filmmaker, curator and model. She has done covers and editorials for many magazines and brands, is a testimonial for Gucci, has modelled for Calvin Klein and Blumarine, done advertising campaigns for major brands, exhibited her work at MoMA and Miami Art Basel, and published numerous photography books. She has also portrayed or shot videos for celebrities such as Zendaya, Selena Gomez, Cardi B, Carly Rae Jepsen and Olivia Rodrigo.


Petra Collins' aesthetic

Petra Collins' style has undeniably influenced not only Euphoria, but also many other projects and artists. The young Canadian's work, in turn, has been inspired by icons of photography such as Ryan McGinley, Nan Goldin and Cindy Sherman. Her language? Dreamlike images, pastel colours, neon lights, glitter, lo-fi style, teenagers, focusing on a contemporary femininity that explores the complexity of a young woman's life in search of herself. All from a female perspective, with a feminine gaze that combines tenderness, empathy, eroticism and a subversive component. Indeed, Collins' early works have been interpreted as intimate and authentic explorations of adolescence, but rather girl-friendly despite their nostalgic, ethereal and "gritty' mood. In recent years, however, Collins' aesthetic has evolved to become more mature, disturbing and "hard-edged" An example of this? Fables, a 2021 series in which actress Alexa Demie adorns herself with monstrous prosthetics to embody what Collins calls "erotic folklore".