Alexa Coe, 26, is a London-based artist whose work is about the cross over between play and refusal of feminine culture. “I like to find paradox within the images, to create ambiguity. The images are usually laced with a tad of erotica.” She explains. “My girls are even presented usually half way in between dressing and undressing, they stand in flux, much like the pursuit of feminism, which although is always moving forward, often struggles against pre-existing prejudice. I work purely in pencil or ink on paper. Drawing for me is about an authenticity that is lacking from society, especially when it comes to gender orientated imagery."
Alexandria Grace Coe
Birth date 22/10/90
Where are you originally from? England
Where do you currently live? England
Preferred art medium Drawing / pencil
Hobby or interest aside from art? I also teach Yoga, which is purely a pleasure thing rather than to make money. Though is a perfect way to explore ideas and aid creativity.
Guilty pleasures? A good G + T, or may be three…
Who are some of your favorite artists? Andy Warhol, Egon Scheila, Sanja Ivekovic….
Favorite movie? Hard to choose… but it would be currently “A girl walks home alone at night”- it’s a film noir, feminist, Iranian black comedy with an amazing soundtrack.
Favorite book? To kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee. No book has left me with such hope as this one.
There is a Live Nina Simone album from 1976. Its very raw, and angry with these little satirical anecdotes from the late great herself.
What are 3 things you want to achieve?
To Live in another country for at least a year
See my work in a great gallery
Publish a book
What is something you deeply love about yourself?
I can truly listen to others. This often means I need to spend a lot of time in solitude so I can tune back in to my own needs, but I do pride myself on being to be empathetic to most situations.
How has Instagram worked for you as an artist?
It is an amazing support network. It has become a research tool like a database full of inspiration. More importantly it offers validation, which artists don’t always receive.
“[Instagram] is an amazing support network.
It has become a research tool like a database full of inspiration. More importantly it offers validation, which artists don’t always receive”
Briefly describe the circumstances under which you grew up
I grew up in a suburban town living within a slightly dysfunctional family, which definitely makes you see things in a different way to the norm. My parents are artistic and I was surrounded by the tools, space and books to inspire me.
How do you think these circumstances influenced your art?
Suburbia isn’t that inspiring. But the dull surroundings of the environment led to me dwell in my imagination and draw out my fantasies. Gladly my parents and their friends taught me more about art than school so it felt second nature.
What would you say are your artwork’s main themes?
The Female identity, both defined and undefined by culture.
How would you describe your style?
Loose, figurative lines, with lots of negative space. “less is more” is definitely my style!
Can you remember a specific experience from your life that has shaped who you are and what you do as an artist today?
Leaving home to live in London. I never wanted to go back. The city changed who I was and that ultimately changes how you think, see and communicate.
What are you communicating with your art?
It’s often spontaneous so that’s it something hard to pinpoint. It’s about confusion and loss. The void of female identity that I defiantly felt as a young woman entering adulthood, both having unreachable expectations but hitting an invisible glass ceiling. I am concerned with the body as a language; the restriction of that as well as the celebrations.
“I am concerned with the body as a language;
the restriction of that as well as the celebrations”
(Certain) Artists tend to have a stereotype attached to them of being dramatic with addictive personalities. What do you feel about this assumption?
I wouldn’t say all artists are extrovert, sometimes-super introvert. Though I definitely would argue it comes with the artistic mind. I think you need a little bit of madness to see and think in a unique way.
As an artist, do you find yourself drawn to any addictive disorder?
I don’t think so. Then again I think having an artistic practice keeps you sane.
Have you had any struggle with mental illness and if so, would you like to share your experience with us?
I suffered with depression and ED in my late teen / early adult years. It was a very dark period of my life but I do think having an extreme reaction to my body and my mind has helped me to now see clearly the false images and pressures of beauty culture.
Artists paths are normally non-linear. Can you recall for us what your path has been like?
I have been to art school (twice) My Bachelors is in Textile Design, and a Masters is in Fashion Communication. But my path to illustration was due to determination and love of the practice. I realized what I didn’t want to do and that brought me back to my first love; drawing.
Though my Tutor on my Masters was an amazing teacher, who taught me to own your work, this has continued with me to now and has made me very determined.
What kind of patterns, routines or rituals do you have to keep the creative juices flowing? I practice Yoga once a day, usually go on a walk to clear my head. A good Latte and Spotify on full volume usually aid the process too.
Do you think your ethnicity, gender, and/or personal preferences drove you towards becoming an artist?
I don’t think if I had been a boy I would of not wanted to be an artist, but I definitely wouldn’t make the same work. My work is a reflection on my background, and my experience of gender within my environment. I think its impossible to truly make authentic work about issues we cannot truly empathize, so I keep my work close to my own heart.
“[Drawing] Is like having constant banter within a conversation; it just flows”
If you could change one thing in how the world works, what would it be? Gender equality. It would solve more than sexual inequality but bring more equilibrium to the world. This world could do with a lot of feminine energy at the moment.
What is your opinion of the art world as it is right now? is there anything you'd like to change?
More funding opportunities and less people asking artists to do things for free!
How do you think the internet aids/complements the art world? and how do you think it deteriorates it?
It has given a voice and a space to share work that would of over wise been impossible. On the other hand it has meant companies want artists to do things for free.
What draws you towards your particular art medium?
Drawing with either pencil/ or ink, feels very instinctive. It’s a bit primitive and I love how instantaneous it is. It’s like having constant banter within a conversation; it just flows.
How have you developed your own unique style?
I think for a while I was trying too hard to be someone else within my work. A close colleague at university told me I should “be myself”, therefore to be “feminine, and be sensitive, because there isn’t enough of that in the world. And the feminine can be powerful.” This has stuck by me ever since and changed the way I saw my work.
What is the main obstacle you have had to overcome as an artist?
To find belief in myself…
Describe briefly the current cultural circumstances you live in now? I live in Shoreditch, East London. It’s a very diverse place. One angle you see the ever growing sky-scrappers, the other is filled with hipsters and the other view is of cultural diversity. Its very inspiring place, even if it’s not beautiful!
How do you think these circumstances influence your art?
You see the world through a number of eyes. You see the richest and poorest and its makes you constantly hungry to be better. Its not an easy life in the city but it is culturally rich. East London is full of creative so you always feel connected to someone. •