”Worlds where there are watermelon butterflies or super tanned men that ride giant green tigers, worlds where talking bears with glowing chests exist make my heart beat fast”.
Born with an imagination bigger than a giant green tiger, Camilla D’Errico frolics through fantasy worlds, bringing her manga inspired characters to life. We chatted with Camilla about her early inspirations and days in the studio making magic.
When did your creative life begin? Has art always been your path?
Growing up I loved Saturday morning cartoons such as Rainbow Brite, She-ra, He-Man, My Little Ponies and Care Bears, and from that love I decided I was going to be an animator. I wasn’t the best in my class but you could say that I have a stubborn streak that pushed me to improve my skills.
Up until I was 25 I had no intention of being a painter. I was set on my path drawing comics in Manga and anime. The Japanese style isn’t just big eyes and sailor girls (although those are a bonus!); it’s the story telling that really caught my attention. Manga and Anime create a very strong emotional connection between the reader and the characters. Then I crossed paths with The Ayden Gallery in Vancouver. When I started painting my anime inspired girls on canvas my creative world expanded. It was like discovering the earth wasn’t flat.
Do you have a mentor or an idol?
Greg Simkins, James Jean or Hikari Shimoda create masterpieces that just blow my mind. But as much as I love their art that is not what inspires me.
My inspiration comes from nature and paradoxes, literature and fairy tales, emotions and humanity, colors and photography.
What has been your most significant achievement or proudest moment as an artist?
I think the most amazing moment was when I quit my day job because I could work full-time as an artist. It was a huge and scary step but knowing that I could was such an amazing moment for me. I’d made it. I don’t think I ever took that for granted and I never will.
Have you got any other great passions besides art?
I’m almost afraid to admit I love writing fan fiction. I didn’t realize that I loved writing until I started watching Vampire Diaries. As the seasons went on I began to feel a growing frustration and disappointment with each episode I watched until I got to the point where I began to imagine myself writing the show.
So like any frustrated fan I scoured the Internet for more sources to explore and found a treasure trove of fan fictions. I write for fun, for pure pleasure and liberation. I’ve since created fan fictions of other series, such as the Walking Dead, and found a little bubble of bliss in my writing. I’ve had such a great time writing that I’m hoping to try my hand at a novel series inspired by my paintings.
Who would you say is your greatest inspiration?
Maybe the thing that inspires me the most is whimsy. I’m not a big fan of reality. I avoid it at all costs (except when terrible things happen and require action!)
I love to imagine worlds outside of our existence. Worlds where there are watermelon butterflies or super tanned men that ride giant green tigers, worlds where talking bears with glowing chests exist make my heart beat fast. If I didn’t have things like that in my life I think I’d just shrivel up.
Do you have an underlying message or theme that you carry throughout your practice?
If it stops being fun stop doing it. That’s a very important theme in my life. I never want my career or choices to be a burden. The great and talented John Buschema told me once that I should create art for the passion of it, because that passion will carry me through the hard times and the good times.
He told me that if you create art because you want to be rich and famous, then go be a movie star. It’s easier, but if you want to create art because it’s in your heart then no matter what, you will be successful. I’ve lived by those words for the past 16 years.
Have you got a favorite piece or series that is closest to your heart?
“No Ordinary Love”. When I was painting her I was aware of the elements in it and what they might mean, but I wasn’t aware that I was painting my innermost emotions. By the end of the piece I looked at it and started to bawl. I realized in that moment that this piece represented my unrequited feelings for someone that I was madly in love with.
He was the black crow the girl was holding and no matter what distractions there were in my life, no matter what dazzling people I met, I couldn’t let go of my feelings for him. He was the only crow that I wanted. And a couple of years after I painted that piece, I told him how I felt and now we are married.
What is the greatest challenge you have faced in your life and how has it impacted or changed your practice?
I’ve faced a lot of adversities in my life. I think the most significant one happened when I was in my twenties. I suffered from Bells Palsy and it left me with nerve damage on the right side of my face. I’ve lived with it for a decade now and it is still very hard when people notice it and point it out.
My smile is a little crooked and my eye doesn’t fully open and it is not easy knowing that I have a physical flaw that everyone can see. It took me a long time to accept it. Bells taught me compassion, patience, acceptance and challenged my perception of self worth and vanity.