On the outside, Vancouver seems all laid back in yoga pants and pretentious cocktails, but look a little deeper and we just may surprise you. There is a ton of unsung talent in Vancouver, quietly paying their dues and gaining recognition everywhere it seems, but at home. Recently, Killahbeez got the chance to talk to one of Vancouver’s hidden talent gems, artist/illustrator Camilla d’Errico.
You may, or may not have heard of Camilla, but you definitely will have heard of her work and the clients she has worked with: Dark Horse Comics, Sanrio, and Disney to name a few. Growing up, Camilla fell in love with art via her childhood obsession with comics and manga, citing comic artists Joe Benitez and Michael Turner as her early inspirations. Manga titles Cardcaptor, Sakura, and Chobits also heavily influenced Camilla’s work. The combination of western and eastern styles created a delicious blend that came to mark Camilla’s own unique flavour of art.
Mostly self-taught, Camilla does all her work primarily using Holbein DUO oil paints on wood panels, or paper, which she then scans. When asked why she doesn’t go fully digital, Camilla stated that she enjoys “using the imperfections, the individuality of each board to help guide the painting.”
Camilla’s portfolio is varied and prolific. Besides producing artwork for several different comic titles, including Sky Pirates of Neo Terra, Tanpopo, Burn, and her upcoming new series Helmet Girls, Camilla somehow also has time to work on her series of paintings depicting wide-eyed, dreamy, girls. There is a definite theme to Camilla’s paintings; each one features a female subject, with eyes wider than any circle lens can achieve, staring dreamily into the distance, in various positions and usually with heads adorned with animals, flowers, random objects, or all of the above. The paintings are a celebration of the female form, which Camilla finds “beautiful, evocative, sexy. Their bodies are delicate and elegant and a pleasure to paint. Females allow me to bring out more of that deep seated emotion that I use to paint.” Camilla hopes that viewers of her paintings will seek to discover their own interpretations and try to discern what emotion and thought is occurring. When I asked her for a hint of what each piece’s meaning could be, Camilla was coy, only saying “The animals represent different layers of the girl’s personality and story. In the same way that a dove can symbolize peace, my animals symbolize certain ideas.”
To obtain such a characteristic aesthetic, Camilla went through a lot of old fashioned trial and error. Through continued self-analysis and perserverance, Camilla’s painting and drawing became increasingly natural and her works more organically created. While she is becoming more and more recognized for her artwork, Camilla still has half her heart in illustration. Even though the two genres are very different, she sees them as also being similar: while one tells a story over several pages, the other must express it in a single image; however both extend one’s imagination into the supernatural world. It is this journey into the surreal that keeps Camilla fascinated as an artist.
Besides prints and comics, Camilla is a fierce marketer of her works with her creations being reborn into the form of plush figures, clothes, and accessories. Camilla attributes all her success in this area to the power of networking. For any other young artist dreaming for similar success, Camilla urges them to “network and make human connections to get ahead. Go to the galleries, introduce yourselves and your art. Hook up with one of the local clothing shops. Artists are renowned for being shy and introverted but you can’t afford to be that cliche. There’s a ton of competition out there and those who stand out and work hard at promoting themselves will be the ones to get noticed and get their name out there.” Camilla’s sister and business partner also played a large part in Camilla’s commercial success by handling her licensing contracts and she has since started her own blog, AdaPia, doling out advice to young artists about the business of art.
Judging by Camilla’s current to-do list, it doesn’t seem like she’ll be lacking in projects anytime soon. Over the next year she will be busy continuing work on her Tanpopo series, the debut of Helmet Girls, and preparing for her upcoming spring 2012 exhibition in Tokyo. Not too shabby for a Vancouver girl who lived for Saturday morning cartoons!