As a manga- inspired and almost completely self- taught painter and illustrator, Camilla D’Errico creates work that exudes an inherent joy. Her work touches on a certain darkness, yet shrouds it in an ethereal light. Camilla is a comic book artist who also works on canvas, collaborating with various publishers and galleries to bring her talents to the masses.
Her self- published graphic novel, Tanpopo, is, to put it simply, an exquisite depiction of a girl and her demons, with whispery verse and a delicate steampunk quality. I would recommend D’Errico’s work to anyone who wants to explore a beautiful mind.
Q 1 || You’ve mentioned before that your parents, like many parents across the world, did not really believe in your ability to ‘make it’ as an artist. In your early years as an artist, did you ever feel a sense of guilt for choosing to pursue something your parents may not have wanted you to pursue? What advice could you give to young artists facing the same situation?
My parents were very old fashioned people, they always believed in my talent and that I was very good at art, they just wanted me to “play it safe”. Careers as an animator or an art teacher were careers that to them were stable and wouldn’t cause me to become a starving artist. I don’t at all blame them for thinking this way, its practical. The life of a freelance artist is very hard, I mean, its tough, there are times even now when I’m overwhelmed by it, but its also very rewarding. I was always willing to work hard to achieve the impossible. My folks just wanted me to find a job doing what I loved but in a career that had a solid footing. They’ve seen me struggle and have always been there to support me, I honestly couldn’t have done it without them, so I don’t hold it against them that they didn’t want me to be a painter, rather I thank them. They pushed me to prove them wrong. I believe in fulfilling your dreams, defy the odds, play to win don’t let people tell you what to do with your life, its your life do what you can to achieve your goals. But to anyone that thinks its easy, its not, be ready to fail, to lose, to curse the gods because sometimes no matter how hard you try you can fall flat on your face. Just try. That’s what I did.
Q 2 || Though you are an extremely well- established artist, do you ever feel that there is something you have yet to achieve on a technical level? Is there anything new you would like to try or learn in the near future?
All the time. I’m always pushing myself to be a better painter, to be a faster illustrator. I never stop trying new things. I want to push my artwork to be more lush and technically perfect. Like most artists I see the flaws in my paintings so I’m hoping that one day I can look at my piece and think, “Hmm…its perfect.” Until I do I’ll keep working on my skills.
Q 3 || The characters you create are storytellers, each one open to interpretation by her audience. Do you ever base a character on yourself and your own story?
I’ve only ever painted my own story a couple of times. Though I have created a few paintings that once I’m finished I can see a story evolve that speaks volumes about what I was going through at the time. When I painted “Iguana” I had no idea I was recreating my personal journey within the two dimensional world of this girl and her iguana. I cried when I finished it. I saw so much in that painting that to this day it still remains one of my favourites.
Q 4 || You’ve managed to create an extensive network and gain exposure in an extremely competitive field- what are some tips you could give about self- promotion in the modern world?
Get out there and show your work. One of the ways that I’ve grown my fanbase was to go tradeshows, conventions, art shows and talked to the public face to face. I’m a very talkative artist, I get out and talk to people, I know that if I do then I’ll get noticed. Artists need to know that you can’t just start a website and sit back and wait for things to come to you. Go and get them. That’s the best advice I can give.
Q 5 || You’ve experienced censorship and pressure to limit the content of your artwork in the past; are you still affected by this or do you now look past it?
In some ways I still am. Comic conventions censor the art that is sold, so there are many pieces of mine that contain nudity that I can’t bring to a con. It is disappointing that I’m censored because my paintings show nipples but they allow the gratuitous imagery of women with thongs and swords that is so obviously sexual in nature to be sold. North America needs to learn that the difference between sex and nudity. A naked body does not equate to sex but pinup girls wearing nothing more than nipple covers in leather licking a gun does. By no means do I think that that art is bad, I just would like to sell my art alongside them.
Q 6 || In what ways do you aim to portray femininity through your artwork? How do you interpret the relationships between independence, innocence, purity, and the loss of it?
People are multi faceted, men, women, boys, girls, we are layered like delicious parfaits. I don’t think that people are just happy, or just dangerous, every single one of us has beautiful and ugly layers. I try to express several personality traits in each of my paintings without focusing too heavily on one thing. I like to give a sense of cuteness with a bit of creepiness. When I do that, I offer the viewer a juxtaposition of elements and emotions. I strive to show the complexity of my girl’s personalities by using colors, animals, symbols, each one is a piece to the puzzle that makes up who that girl is, what she is going through, what she is trying to tell the viewer. I’m balancing each element with the other to achieve the relationships you are seeing.
Q 7 || I’m really curious as to what your physical work space looks and feels like. How do you arrange your workspace to produce the best artwork you can?
Well at the moment I’m working from home so it’s a bit of a mess. I recently had to move out of my studio because the landlord rented out the building to a big game company, ah the life of an artist, never a dull moment! Currently I’m painting on my kitchen table. No matter where I am painting I have to have proverbial peace and quiet. I have to focus completely on my painting so I clear my mind and workspace of all distractions. It’s hard to paint when I’m starring at a dirty spot on my floor. Once I have everything in order I display several images on my table, this is to inspire me! I have nature books and prints of my paintings clearly visible. I always want to do better so I use my paintings as goals. I want my next piece to be better than the last. Then I put on an audio book, usually a vampire story and begin to paint. I need the novels to keep my mind from wandering. The narrators keep my mind in another world and separate me from reality so I don’t let my mind wander to emails or what to make for dinner. And no matter where I am painting, Loki is always by my side. He’s my little love nugget and just having him around sleeping or playing with his toys makes me feel alive. He brings so much love into my creative space.
Q 8 || Lastly, are there any projects or appearances you have coming up that you’re particularly excited about?
I’m always looking forward to NYCC. I love NYC so much its ridiculous. The city itself is so alive and wild with inspiration that each time I visit I find new reasons to fall in love with it. The convention itself is amazing with so many things to see and do that it’s nerd heaven. I will be in The Block this year with a big booth and I will also be on a panel with a couple of my favourite artists, Travis Louie, Tara McPherson and Mab Graves as well as the gallerist Jonathan Levine, whom I am very excited to meet.
I have several new projects on the horizon that I am looking forward to sharing. My book Pop Painting will be releasing next year with Random House. It is my first step by step guide to painting. I can’t wait for it to release! People have so many questions about my techniques and materials and this book is an in depth study on how I create my paintings. Finally I can give people the answers that they are looking for.
Dark Horse will be releasing my third artbook in my series with them called Rainbow Children. This collection features my gallery art from 2012 to the present. Its absolutely stunning and I think fans will really like seeing the art collected in this hardcover book.
I’m also working hard on my book Tanpopo #3 with Boom! Studios. My passion project and love of my comic life will be published next year as the 3rd in my hard cover graphic novel series. I think this is my favourite instalment so far. I know my fans have been waiting a while for it, but as I am doing all the writing, drawing, inking, coloring and lettering it is a labour of love that takes a while to create. I’m pulling out all the stops on this one!
There are a few more projects coming up, I have a two person show at Corey Helford Gallery in the spring, a new line of sunglasses and reading glasses as well as new paint sets with Holbein that will hit the shelves in 2016. It may be one of my biggest years yet!