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INNERview: Camilla d’Errico

1 Agosto 2012
Book illustrator, penciler, mangaka, painter, fashion and toys designer. Camilla d?Errico is definitely a complete artist.
Born in Canada from Italian parents, she?s one of the most brilliant visual artists of our age.
I?ve met her and had a lovely chat with her, to find out more about her Italian roots, her influences works and passions.
Hello Camilla and thanks for your time! I know you?re incredibly busy – you?ve recently been out of town for your Gallery exhibition and a huge San Diego convention. How was that?
I?m home now from a marathon exhibition schedule- I left home June 28th to fly to Los Angeles where I exhibited at Anime Expo Los Angeles for 4 days over the weekend, then I stayed in LA and Palm Springs and got ready for my first Tanpopo Art Exhibition at Munky King Gallery on Melrose in LA. After that I was off to San Diego for the big San Diego Comic from July 10th to 16th. It was exhausting, but exhilarating at the same time! There are so many incredible creative people to meet and connect with in LA and San Diego. Not so many in Palm Springs though- that was my couple days of recovery 😉 But still amazing. Those blue-hairs at Bingo still know how to party! LA and San Diego are two of my favourite places to do shows though – nothing could stop me from going back to SDCC and getting some more of that fine San Diego sushi!
So, you travel a lot because of your work! Which country has a special place in your heart?
I love getting to travel, and definitely going to Japan and to Italy just touched my soul. The culture, and the people, and especially the food, was amazing in both places for different reasons. There are so many places I want to be able to visit- Paris, for one. I think I need to see the Louvre- not just once though, I probably need to go several times to really get to appreciate it. I also love going places that are rich in nature and wildlife, so I?ll definitely be open to adventure in the future.
To stay on topic, you have Italian roots. What kind of relationship do you have with out country?
Aside from my love affair with Italian food, I feel like growing up Canadian in an Italian family enriched me with two cultures. I have a deeply held respect and appreciation for classical arts and architecture, and I?m fired up with genuine Italian passions – which are helpful in both art making and winning friendly family arguments, hehe.
And what are the coolest places to go shopping instead?
Depends on what I?m shopping for! Artbook shopping is definitely Kinokuniya bookstore, I could spend weeks in there I?m sure. I try and get a couple of books from every show I go to where they have a booth. The fashion and clothes shopping in Rome was beyond incredible, I was in heaven! I also love getting to go to Portabello West, which is a local fashion market here in Vancouver, where most things are hand-made and very limited in number.
Let?s talk about your work. You?re one of the most brilliant exponents of pop surrealism. Could you help us understanding a little bit more about this new wave?   
Pop Surrealism is a movement in contemporary arts where painters and artists reflect on what earlier forms of Surrealism brought to the art world. Surrealism itself is heavily influenced by dreams, emotions, visual metaphors and symbolism, and Freudian psychoanalysis. I feel like the things I want my art to express fit into this mode of expression, where I can juxtapose imagery and types of art making. It?s like making art that fits because it shouldn?t fit, and can be experienced on different emotional levels.
You?ve started your career very young, and you?ve reached amazing goals in very little time. What?s been the biggest satisfaction by far?
I?m really happy to be where I am with the people I?m with, and that I get to meet and work with along the way. A couple of my big satisfaction moments were when my Tanpopo Kickstarter campaign with BOOM! Studios completed late 2011, at 150% funded. That was so rewarding, to see how many people cared about and wanted to support my passion project Tanpopo. Other moments that really stand out were being approached by Neil Gaiman to do an illustration for a written piece of his. I was totally star-struck, because I love his writing – but also had a private ?boo-yeah!? moment in the back of my head.
You?ve collaborated with a lot of people during your carreer. You?ve also worked for your countrywoman Avril Lavigne at your beginnings on the graphic novel Make 5 wishes. What do you remember of that experience?
I definitely remember how much fun it was to be a part of a project like that. It was intensely hard work, illustrating the whole graphic novel series., but it was also a crucial ?trial by fire? kind of experience. If I didn?t love doing it and feel passionate about it, I couldn?t have done a project like that.
After that, you started your series Tanpopo ? which is inspired by Goethe?s Faust?
Yes, the first chapter of Tanpopo takes heavy influence from Faust. I?ve always loved classic literature, even in school. I had a vivid imagination and literature spoke to me, but I also recognized that not everybody was able to really access literature with their imaginations that way. So I felt strongly about expressing stories influenced by literature in a visual way, which is what I?m doing with Tanpopo. The original texts are adapted and weaved around my characters, Tanpopo and Kuro, as Tanpopo embarks on a journey of self-discovery about what it means to be human. I?m continuing writing and drawing the next volume, and taking some inspiration from Shakespeare and Edgar Allan Poe 😉 It?s going to be fabulous!
I bet! So, literature is one of your main source of inspiration ? even the second volume is inspired by The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge and the third one is inspired by Strange Stories From a Chinese Studio. What kind of relationship do you have with literature?
I do love classic literature, as well as contemporary writing, Neil Gaiman?s writing really speaks to me creatively, and he?s definitely a master of his craft. Female authors and storytellers have a special place in my heart too, like the Japanese manga group CLAMP.  I think some stories are told best by women, especially some romance or fantasy. I love listening to Audio Books while I draw and paint, too. I?m guilty of listening to the Audio Books for The Vampire Diaries. I?m a hopeless romantic, I love a good romance story!
I love CLAMP as well! They?re my favourite mangakas together with Ai Yazawa! What?s yours?
I?ve got lots of favourites for lots of reasons- Naruto is just fun, and it?s been going on long enough that when I go back to get some new books there are lots waiting for me. CLAMP are a special favourite of mine too, I could read CLAMP stories until the end of time. Akira is pretty amazing too, every page is incredibly detailed. I collect lots of Japanese anime/manga art books too, that I enjoy going through again and again.
So, we managed to understand where inspiration comes from for you. Talking about techniques instead,  you use very different ones in your work. from oils and pencils to watercolours and digital techniques. Which medium you think allows you to express your creativity better?
I do make art in a couple of distinct ways. I draw comics by hand and ink them in pen, and then scan them to keep working on them digitally later- or work together with a colourist or letterer. When I paint, I have a preference to do black & white (sometimes with a hit of one colour) paintings in acrylic. My black & whites are very referential to comic making, so they don?t need the richness of colour blending that I use oil paints for. When I do full colour traditional oil paintings, I use Holbein Aqua Duo water-soluble oil paints. They give a lusciousness and depth that really expresses what I want my paintings to express.
You?re also a toy-designer, and recently you?ve started  designing your own clothing and accessories. How much fashion is important to you?
I love fashion, so it?s important to me as a passion of choice 😉 And I like when we get to choose fashions or wear something that really expresses a personal style or aesthetic. This can be hard to do when there are so many lines that are mass-produced; they become less special. So if I can make something very limited edition, that only a few people who really love it will be able to find and add to their collection, it makes it incredibly special. Some of the clothing and accessories I?ve been making are limited to less than 5, 10 or 20 pieces worldwide. That?s pretty special!
Yeah, you?re also launching pre-orders to have customized items from Camilla d?Errico!
Yes! I announce them on Facebook or via the the newsletter. I collect requests for a couple weeks and then make them to order, so it’s even more exclusive: limited fashion made especially for the collector! I just did this with some Donnie Darko inspired tanktops of my painting ‘Little Dressup Doll’, and everyone’s really excited to have something special made for them!
Last question: you?ve worked with Disney as well. From all of their characters from movies or comics which one do you think represents you the best?
Tough to say! Probably a combination of Ariel?s rebelliousness and Minnie Mouse?s irrepressible and timeless sense of fun and romance (my fianc? would be my Mickey Mouse of course). There?s also that brand new movie, Brave, that I haven?t seen yet – but I think that main heroine looks like a total fireball like me! 
Thanks so much Camilla! You?ve been incredibly sweet and patient to answer all my questions – and we can?t wait to see some customized drawing and shirts for TheQueenBeetch soon hehe 🙂
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