Artist Proof: In 1998 when Camilla d’Errico attended her first San Diego Comic-Con she realised that a 9–5 day job would kill her and this was what she wanted to do. She had an early addiction to Saturday morning cartoons, comics and manga when she was young. She was also that girl in class that was doodling sexy damsels & dragons on her textbooks rather than reading them.
Camilla’s unique style continues to be in demand and her client list includes Dark Horse Comics, Image Comics, Random House, Tokyopop, Hasbro, Disney, Sanrio, Neil Gaiman and she also works with video game and movie companies on character development. Her emotive and eloquent paintings have propelled her to the top of the ranks of the New Contemporary art movement, and she is represented by Opera Gallery of New York.
Camilla was kind enough to answer our questions even though she is super busy, as she preppares for this years Comic-Con which happens next week.
Artsprojekt: What’s your take on the life cycle of an idea from birth to growth and finally to death?
Camilla d’Errico: It’s such a natural part of the creative process, but a frustrating one. We have to understand our ideas and what will work and what won’t. I have a sketchbook full of ideas that are fun, but not perfect for the theme that I wanted to express. When an idea does move forward, it has to be nurtured and given its own room to grow. Anytime I’ve started a drawing or a painting, I let it dictate its own path and went with it as it took shape. I’ve never imposed on an idea as it was growing, because that would probably be the death of it!
AP: Your work often has a romantic, love and lost feel. You openly state that you are a hopeless romantic. What is the relationship between literature, painting and romance?
Camilla: There are many kinds of expressions in art, but I think that none strike us quite as much as romance. Literature is also riddled with story archetypes, but the most moving and memorable are all based on love. This I cannot help but to see as a red string that binds the fate of art and literature. We long for a love that would move the stars, and with this love we create romance in consequence. Its a tireless theme that we hunger for.
Manga is evidently an important part of your art. It is also a phenomenon that has a huge following and impact in art, publishing and culture. What art form today has the same kind of momentum?
The expression of characters and emotions is hard to see in many other forms of art, and what is so difficult to recreate for others comes so easily to Manga. They’ve truly captured the essence of humanity in their stories, regardless if they are transforming girls in tutus or basketball playing high schoolers. They can see the soul of the character and express that to the audience. To compare this to any other and find a second place is hard, but I would say that there are those within the art world that are also capturing the hearts of people with their works. The lowbrow, pop surrealist, new contemporary, new figurative, urban movement have some painters that seek out those emotions and capture them. It can be a tangled mess to find them but is a beauty there that might just catch your eye and also touch your emotional strings.
AP: Has it been difficult for you to ‘make it’, as a female artist? What was the greatest challenge?
Camilla: The foremost challenge of being a female artist is that people might think our art is only for women. There are different challenges in the different genres, as a comic book/manga creator I was openly accepted by my peers. The industry hungered for more women, it reached out for the female sensibility. As a painter, it was not a matter of hurdles to jump, but rather the challenge of being seen as having my own voice. The world of art compares artist vs. artist, so the challenges were to never be compared to another woman but to pioneer my style beyond gender.
AP: What has been the most important aspect in your artistic journey?
Camilla: To be unique and to be myself. There is an invisible pressure to create art that “everyone” will like. I create art that expresses who I am and my artistic individuality. Its no fun to want to be someone you aren’t, and so I strive to create art that pushes my creativity and themes.
AP: Your art has been classified by art movement, style, etc. Do you agree with these classifications and staying within their ‘lines’ or do you think they are unnecessary and that the most important thing is to paint, draw, and create art as Camilla d’Errico?
Camilla: This answer comes from someone caught in the middle of classifications. To me, genres help define the style and give people a place to search and categorize likes and dislikes. Having said that, to be placed in a category and subsequently dismissed for being in that imposed classification is difficult.
I often hear from people that they don’t normally like manga” but they like my art. So I can only hope that people will like my art because they simply like it, and disregard categories. Maybe that’s why people are often surprised when they like my work, because I’m trying to break out of the classification box!
AP: As an artist who has done a lot of merchandise and licensing, how would you answer the dreaded question of ‘selling-out’?
Camilla: The “selling out” question is a very fine line for an artist, but the difference in the answer is in the mindset, in the question of “why”. Why do I do licensing and why do I make merchandise? I absolutely adore merchandise, I find it hugely fun to see my art as a business card holder, or taken and transformed by an artisan into beautiful necklaces. Even when working with larger companies and creating a more mainstream product, I have to love it, and work with companies that share my philosophy. I enjoy sharing my art with many people, and merchandise is the best way to do that, the most varied and the most fun. When it’s not fun anymore then I’ll stop making products. As an artist also, it’s almost a must now to be your own brand. At the end of the day, everything I create has my signature style; it’s recognizable as being “me”, and I can take that across merchandise so that more and more people know that “me” and if they love it, they might be so inclined to visit my website, or my Faceboook or Deviantart and learn more about me and my art. It’s a way of reaching out to as many people as possible and sharing my vision and hopefully also inspiring others.
AP: You are a very outgoing person, which is unusual for an artist. How do you deal with the fans, the conventions, the panels, and the constant public interaction? How important is that for an artist?
Camilla: I really love interacting with fans and people at conventions, which is really contrary to who I am in my everyday life. I’m not as social as one might think, I have a core group of friends and I lead a quiet life with my boyfriend. But when I’m in a situation like a panel or an art show there is this energy that just buzzes from everyone sharing a common interest and passion. I really love talking to other artists and budding comickers, we share stories and they want to hear what I have to say, and we all learn from each other.
Secretly though, I get nervous every time I do a panel or at the beginning of convention, I’m not immune to the stomach butterflies ;)
AP: Please share with us what a day in the life of Camilla d’Errico is like.
Camilla: Everyday is different, but normally I wake up and have breakfast, then I’m on the computer checking my email and Facebook - you know, all those lovely web media related things. Then my religious activity is to drink my cup of tea while watching an episode of an anime; sometimes it’s a series I follow, and sometimes just a random one that I find online. It’s always good to be inspired in the morning.
After this little eye candy, I start working on my comics. Right now I’m focusing on Tanpopo #3, though its never just one project I have on the go but a couple. Sometimes I miss lunch because I can get tunnel vision work where I forget to eat, other times my stomach rules me completely.
I’m very lucky because once the later afternoon rolls around I get to take another break and go for a jog on the seawall of Vancouver. It’s beautiful, when it’s not raining, and gives me a great reason to get out and enjoy the fresh air.
Then its back to drawing or painting until dinnertime comes around. My life is all about comics, painting and eating! I don’t live a very exciting life, but I do live a fun one.
You can check out Camilla d’errico’s Artsprojekt store here