Interview with Camilla d’Errico

March, 2012
VanCAF webcomic interviews

Camilla d’Errico is a fine artist whose distinctive characters have appeared in a variety of mediums, including paintings, sculptures, and comics — as well as on a host of merchandise. She lives in Vancouver.

If I wanted to see some of your paintings, where would I have to go? How many galleries are displaying your stuff right now?

Good question! We get lots of inquiries. The best thing to do is to e-mail us here at info@camilladerrico.com and ask about a painting. My available paintings are at multiple different galleries in different places, and some of them are with our d’Errico Studios team, so it’s a painting-by-painting basis!

What exactly is d’Errico Studios? Who runs it?

D’Errico Studios is my artist studio company. I’m the creative director and CEO, and AdaPia works as my manager and helps with administrative things. I direct things, so in that way I run it, but it’s also a team effort with a few helpers and businesses.

Is it a physical place?

I’m moving my workspace to a new studio office location this month, since I used to do almost all of my artwork and comicking out of my home. So that’ll be like my artwork HQ where I’ll do my painting and comics, since I like to set up my own creative space the way I like it with books and toys and supplies laid out a certain way.

A lot of the other work stuff happens online and on-the-go with traveling, so we take care of it that way. It would be really cool to have a permanent office one day, but I also need some creative space to be able to create work. And that’s why I looked to move my studio out of my home, to get some positive creative distance and be able to get into “the zone.”

Where were you born?

I was born in Ottawa, but my family moved to Lumby (Northern B.C.) shortly after, and I grew up there. Which was nice, because I got to have a lot of exposure to nature, which I love.

I moved to Vancouver after high school, though, to go to Capilano College’s Illustration and Design program, which they definitely didn’t have in Lumby. My parents still live there, so I get to visit them and reconnect that way.

You have a very Italian name. Who was the last person in your family to come from there?

Both my parents came from Italy to Canada!

Italian heritage and culture was a big part of my growing up, and it’s especially important to me from an arts and culture historical perspective.

I so admire and appreciate the traditional arts and architecture in Italian cultural heritage, and aim to grow my painting techniques (traditional media, classical representations of painting animals etc) out of that. But I’m also Canadian, and my family embraced that too, so we’ve had lots of exposure to culture and lots to learn from.

Unlike a lot of the other people we’re having at VanCaf, we have to buy your comics before we can read them. You’ve only got short “previews” on your website. Why do you take such a different approach?

My Tanpopo comic is serialized and available to read online at MTV Geek!

Reading and enjoying classic literature inspired my Tanpopo project, and re-creating that experience of sitting and getting lost in an imaginative experience for others is important to me. Having and holding and enjoying a book is a special experience I want to offer readers.

You really produce quite a vast array of stuff with your art on it. Prints, clothes, comic books, toys, jewelry, iPhone cases… What sells the best?

I think my art prints are something that gets to reach and share my art with the most people. Owning a print is something that can feel special on any budget, or for a gift or part of a convention or gallery experience.

Where’s your merchandise made?

Most of the merchandise I make is actually made in Canada and the USA.

It’s really important to me to make quality items where time and attention is put into the pieces. Sometimes I work with small artisans to do this, like handbags with Haut Totes (USA), jewelry and card cases with Classic Hardware (USA) and Trinket Jewellery (Australia).

Even the things I have digitally printed and not made by hand, like art prints, buttons and mousepads, I like to make with Eyesonwalls.com and Zazzle.com (USA). I work with artisan companies to make fine art items too, like Rubbish Rehab’s handmade chairs, and Clickforart.com’s limited edition pillows. I think that way the items have more personality, and feel more special for someone to own.

You mentioned someone named AdaPia earlier. Who is she?

AdaPia is my older sister (I’m the middle child of three sisters). She has been a big help to me, coming on board to help with my projects, like doing some editing when I write and plan out my Tanpopo comics. AdaPia loves art, so she enjoys what I do as well as having her fingers on the pulse of what else is going on, and helping me with managing some of the administrative ends of my work.

What’s a context in which you would never agree to have your art used? Are any products off the table?

It’s happened before — companies or platforms that work together with groups of artists to put their art on products have offered me opportunities, and I’ve said no thank you.

One reason would be if the “collective focus” in the different groups of art shown didn’t feel like something my art should be a part of — for instance, the level of sexual appeal. I like my female figures to be cute or sassy and have personality, elegant beauty, and femininity. And some sexuality is a part of that. I draw and paint female figures in the nude, but I want beauty and grace to come before sexy. So, in times where there’s a reversal in focus (independent of whether it’s to put art on electronics cases or add it to a collective gallery), I’m not as keen on it.