Art

The Magical World of Phoebe New York

Elizabeth Schoettle is an artist and a creator of magical worlds. Her alter-ego character, “Phoebe New York”, delves deep into the life of modern women

art by Elisabeth Schoettle - interview by: Icarus Blake
Addict © Elizabeth Schoettle

Addict © Elizabeth Schoettle

Elizabeth Schoettle is an artist and a creator of magical worlds. Her alter-ego character, “Phoebe New York”, delves deep into the life of modern women. Ironic, irate, loving and smart, Phoebe always makes us think about the content beyond the aesthetics. These collages are a powerful rendition of the conflicts of our society.

Bed Heart © Elizabeth Schoettle

Bed Heart © Elizabeth Schoettle

In a young artist’s life, there’s often a moment when you look at yourself in the mirror and decide that making art is what you love, and that you’re going to do it for the rest of your life. Did something like that happen to you? If so please tell us about it.
Growing up, and even as a young adult, I never really saw being an artist as an option for me, which is strange, because I come from an artistic family. Now I’m obsessed with creating art, mostly for myself because I get pleasure out of doing it. Maybe this is a cliché, but it’s more like art chose me, instead of the other way around. Thinking back, I have always been one of those people that is looking for something—sometimes looking for a direction, sometimes craving pure freedom and sometimes seeking a way to transform an object into something else. Becoming an artist was a natural thing that just kind of happened to me: I realized making art is the best way for me to simultaneously pursue freedom and direction. It actually officially dawned on me that I could see myself as an artist just after 9/11 when I was a New Yorker stranded in Paris, but that’s a long story to tell another time.

Dick Head © Elizabeth Schoettle

Dick Head © Elizabeth Schoettle

Tell us a bit about all the different techniques you use with Phoebe and how they evolved over time.
Phoebe’s development started with me using found objects to create what I’d guess you would call “people”. Eventually one of those “people” became Phoebe, but even early on I was already using things from my environment—vintage or antique clothes, photos, book covers, anything that interested me—as the raw material for my art. Her head started out square, not round, and it was actually kind of prehistoric-looking. Perhaps Phoebe evolved just like we did from cave people? One day I must have picked up a sharpie and drawn an eye and a mouth as the first version of Phoebe’s head, but I don’t remember doing it… To me it has always seemed like she just develops and evolves naturally like a person does. Phoebe isn’t static because she really is the result of a blend of my “found objects” technique, her specific personality and emotions, and my imagination.

vanishing cream © Elizabeth Schoettle

vanishing cream © Elizabeth Schoettle

Phoebe has a complex personality, at times she happy and full of love, other times pensive and introspective. Can you tell us how you, and she, manage all these moods?
Phoebe’s moods change with my moods, and yet there are days I’m not sure of either of our moods until I actually start to work. I never set out with an expectation of what her mood, or my mood, will be on any given day, and sometimes I surprise myself with an unhappy collage coming from what I thought was a happy mood, and vice versa. Phoebe is my channel for love, for pain, for all the good and bad of life and, through her, I can create using both positive and negative feelings and experiences. I tend to be a very pensive, thoughtful person—in some ways I think I’ve always thought too much about everything. Phoebe does the same, only she does it for me in a way that makes it fun. So, for me, Phoebe is a means of self-exploration, and then self-expression. I wouldn’t say that either of us actually “manages” our moods, but my art gives me hope that pain has its place in life, and can sometimes be changed into something good, something positive.

I Cant Reach You © Elizabeth Schoettle

I Cant Reach You © Elizabeth Schoettle

A related question: how much of Libby is Phoebe, and vice versa?
I’d say that Phoebe is just one aspect of me, one part of my personality. I also express myself in other ways, like writing my novel, and through self-portraits and line drawings. So I’d say that she comes from me, rather than saying that she is me. I also put Phoebe in situations that I’d never put myself in… I’m pretty afraid of traveling, and yet I’ll put Phoebe out there riding on top of a plane, and into all kinds of other wild and fun situations. So Phoebe is much more adventurous than I am.

I Did It © Elizabeth Schoettle

I Did It © Elizabeth Schoettle

Have you ever thought of introducing external characters in Phoebe’s story?
Not really. Phoebe likes to be the center of attention, and it seems to work that way. I think I will keep Phoebe the center of the action, but of course she’s free to visit with other characters from present-day and the past once in awhile.

I Regret Nothing © Elizabeth Schoettle

I Regret Nothing © Elizabeth Schoettle

Phoebe seems ready to tell more complex stories, have you ever thought of developing a book or an animated character?
Yes, absolutely. Right now I’m working on a feature length documentary with director Jyll Johnstone. It’s about my life as an artist, and of course that means Phoebe is very central to the film. I’ll be interested to learn whether you think we successfully bring her to life in the film… The goal is to be creative. We’re also working on a book that features Phoebe, and deals a lot with, what else, the idea of love… Or should I say the feeling?

It Doesnt Hurt © Elizabeth Schoettle

It Doesnt Hurt © Elizabeth Schoettle

I see that Phoebe has also become a sticker and she is all over New York walls. That adds an element of performance art to the mix. Why did you decide to do that, and do you plan to continue and evolve the sticker concept?
It’s funny: My dream for years was to rent one of those huge billboards in SoHo and put her up there. Phoebe can be a shy, awkward character but her ego always shines through and she definitely wants to be seen. Think about it—she stars in collages, soon she’ll be available in prints and she’s obviously at home on Instagram. Perhaps it is her destiny to break free of these various “boxes”, even though each one has been more expansive than the last, and creates larger-scale vignettes in urban landscapes? Don’t worry, I’m not picturing a Phoebe King Kong, but a group of my supporters have been printing the stickers and posting them with me, so Phoebe’s traveling to different cities and we’re having fun. I think the success of the stickers are a kind of karmic resolution for how hard it’s been to get her (and me) to be seen by NYC’s traditional art galleries. Now I think of all of New York City as her gallery, and that’s kind of fun.

Longing To Belong © Elizabeth Schoettle

Longing To Belong © Elizabeth Schoettle

When you think of Phoebe, you think hard-core New Yorker or just a modern woman that could live anywhere? And if the answer was that Phoebe is a true New Yorker, what are the particular attributes and characteristics of New York women?
I usually think of her as a quintessential modern woman, but at the same time she is definitely energized by New York, so to me, yes, she is a hardcore New Yorker. I think in many ways New York is the hardest place in the world, the most tiring, and yet I couldn’t live anywhere else. My Phoebe art is inspired by my experiences in NYC. She’s shows us the highs and lows of what the city offers. Keeping up in New York is challenging, both literally and figuratively. People from elsewhere can marvel at how fast we all walk. But there is one part of Phoebe that’s not limited to New York, and that’s her love of nature. She has a love of flowers, sun, sky, and open spaces, and I think that’s part of her because I grew up on a farm and here in New York I sometimes miss that close connection to living things. But overall, yes, I think it’s safe to say she’s a true New Yorker. I don’t think I could have created her anywhere but here in this truly insane but wonderful place

love stairs © Elizabeth Schoettle

love stairs © Elizabeth Schoettle

Where will Phoebe be five years from now?
I think in many ways Phoebe exists outside time, so I couldn’t say where she’ll be in five years. She’s a very modern woman, but also timeless; there’s a confusion to where Phoebe is in terms of time, and I like to explore that. Regarding her development over the next five years, I like to think of Phoebe as someone who will continue to deepen, and look within, and stay true to who she is, and to who I am.

Instagram: @PHOEBENEWYORK
Tumblr: PHOEBENEWYORK.tumblr.com
Film: www.canobiefilms.org
Website: www.libbyschoettle.com
Email: info@phoebenewyork.com

Never Feels Like a Person © Elizabeth Schoettle

Never Feels Like a Person © Elizabeth Schoettle

Red Heart in Bed © Elizabeth Schoettle

Red Heart in Bed © Elizabeth Schoettle

Lets Makeup © Elizabeth Schoettle

Lets Makeup © Elizabeth Schoettle

Duckies © Elizabeth Schoettle

Duckies © Elizabeth Schoettle

Dont Touch Me © Elizabeth Schoettle

Dont Touch Me © Elizabeth Schoettle

47 Responses to “The Magical World of Phoebe New York”

  1. Charles Johnstone says:

    Great article!!!!

  2. Bill O'Connor says:

    Love this article, and Libby’s work!!!

  3. edmee\verlyn says:

    Absolutely remarkable and sensational. Libby seems to express our feelings so well. The art is so endearing.

  4. Katrina says:

    Libby is the creator of “magical worlds”! and it’s a fun place to be! Thanks for the great article!

  5. robin cohen says:

    it is amazing how such depth of feeling can be expressed with such beautiful simplicity!

    • libby schoettle says:

      Dear Robin, thank you so much for the kind words. Simplicity for me is key, so glad you feel that about my work.

  6. TheFashionDonkey says:

    Phoebe is heartbreak and hope, as visual poetry.

    • libby schoettle says:

      Dear Jennifer, Thank you for the comment, and for your support! I’m so grateful. Poetry is one of my favorite words!

  7. Mel says:

    I’m a huge fan!!!! I love this article. Libby…we need to have coffee or a martini. Love Pheobes World!

    • libby schoettle says:

      Hi, Coffee would be great! Thank you for this, or Phoebe thanks you! Really glad we met, I so appreciate your belief in her, and support:))

  8. Carlos says:

    Amazing Phoebe! You’ve done it again…you have great talent!..congratulations.

  9. rcmcgraw says:

    Great interview. Phoebe is….the best!

  10. Margy Schoettle says:

    Profound and extraordinary interview. Wonderful Phoebe art. Phoebe is someone quite special for us all to know and love.

    • libby schoettle says:

      Hi Mrs. Schoettle, so wonderful to hear from you!!!! You’re the best in the world. Thank you! ooxoxxx

  11. Kate says:

    Fabulous article! I’m a massive fan from Melbourne, Australia. Libby’s work really speaks to me and I can’t wait to see what lies ahead for Phoebe!

    • libby schoettle says:

      Hi Kate, I’m so glad you liked the article, I am go grateful to CBK for publishing it. It’s my first interview about Phoebe, so thank you for the comment, and your belief in me. Really terrific to hear. Have a great day!

    • libby schoettle says:

      …oops typo, …so grateful to CBK..

  12. Stephany Hotckcock says:

    Fantastic interview. …love Ms. Phoebe! Looking forward to all that is coming for her/ you in the future!

  13. Mila says:

    Wonderful! Great to see an artist & her work getting well-deserved attention! I adore Phoebe.

  14. Adam Cost says:

    there only one thing to say:
    F
    Phoebe is super coo!

  15. Adam Cost says:

    there only one thing to say:

    Phoebe is super coo!

    • libby schoettle says:

      Ahh, Phoebe was so happy to see your message!!! Coming from (you) the coolest! Thank you~~~!

  16. Nick Blair says:

    Great article and a lot of very interesting works I had not seen before. Some excellent work, great to see. thanks

    • libby schoettle says:

      Hey Nick, what a surprise! Thanks! And you’ve seen almost everything! Look forward to seeing you guys soon! Hope you’ve been well.

  17. Thomas says:

    Excellent interview — superb body of work, want to see more!

  18. Helena says:

    Impressive Libby! I’ll keep an outlook for the stickers around the city.

  19. Susanne says:

    Fabulous! We love Pheobe! She loves to travel so can’t wait for Pheobe S.F.!

  20. Jane says:

    Phoebe speaks to everyone’s little person inside, and it’s a kind of relief to see her out and about saying what we think, but cannot admit.

  21. Sarah Sturm says:

    I adore her so much! Love her work! Greetings from Leipzig – Germany

  22. Mellowmanik says:

    Awesome artical, you, your art and Phoebe deserve it. Would make for some pretty cool t-shirt prints

  23. Christina Colon says:

    Great Article, Just a quick question “when was this article posted?” if you can please provide me with a date and time, it would be greatly appreciated.

    Best regards,
    Christina C

    • libby says:

      Hi Christina, thank you, so glad you enjoyed the article! I believe it was printed on April 24th, 2015