I would like to get something out of the way right from the start. The ever fetching Camilla d’Errico is my loving wife of almost 2 years. So this interview may, possibly, be a tad biased. But we made a deal, ill interview her and she will send her fans to my new web page. The key to a healthy, loving relationship isn’t trust…well it IS but it’s also about making businessy type deals for mutual benefit.
About 11 years ago we met at an art class that my Ma curated. Camilla was the instructor my mom found at a local college and I was the oldest one in the class of 12-14 year olds. I was 22 and felt about as out of place as a college student in a grade 6 class and Camilla was the instructor. At first I came for the artwork…but then, later, I stayed for the girl. So I’ve known her well before her fame and attention. It was clear to me that she was irrevocably in love with art (and me) and that she would without a doubt realise her dream of becoming a successful full-time artist.
I’d like to answer a question that I’m never asked: ‘What’s it like being married to someone famous?” Ah an excellent question thank you for asking (hey who’s interview is this?) At first, when we started dating it was intimidating to be with someone who was way better than me at the thing i loved doing most. As an artist it was an internal struggle to let go of my jealousy for her talent. The hardest part early in our relationship was accepting that I could never be anywhere near as talented as my girlfriend at the thing I love doing more than anything, creating things. Some people are just naturally talented, some might disagree but in my eyes it’s true. I myself really had to work hard to become, even just a decent artist.
Camilla and I are different in the way that she has committed herself to putting all her eggs in one basket. To become a specialist you have to totally focus on that one thing. She’s an artist through and through. Whereas I’m more of a generalist, my interests are too broad to choose just one thing. I don’t have the attention or patience to focus on one skill and excel at it. Camilla has the talent which I can tell you she has worked her ass off for, but she also has the unnatural determination of a T-1000 killer robot. She says yes to everything still, even when she double books herself while working a convention that same weekend. She constantly challenges herself “I know I said I’d do 10 paintings for this show, but I’m going to do 13!” And ya know what? She does it! Yes it can be stressful, for both of us, watching her suffer through those last few brush strokes. But seeing that satisfied smirk on her face after she’s done is worth it.
So people line up for her just to say hi and to shake her hand, they ask to take their picture with her and want her signature. I’m there in the background holding her pen and getting prints ready to sign. I’m the one taking the pictures and that’s ok with me. She makes a difference for people but so do I in my own way. I left my jealousy and insecurity on the doorstep of that art class 11 years ago. She’s my wife and I couldn’t be more proud of her success and I genuinely mean that.
I’m done talking Goomba, it's your turn, ready? This is a video game themed site so I’ll start with a game question.
Until recently you’ve worked as a concept artist for a video game company. Which game recently has caught your eye visually and why?
I don’t want to say the obvious and say “Final Fantasy VII” because it’s coming out again and the entire world saw the trailer so we all (I’m just assuming here) wet ourselves in excitement. So I’ll go with the last game that had me as excited as a fat boy in a candy shop, “The Shadow of Mordor”. That game was amazing. I love the world design and the seemingly endless character designs of the orcs. The game play was exciting and the kills were pretty satisfying and the story was great too. I loved it.
You’ve been painting for 10 years now. You have developed a method and subject matter all your own. Do you ever feel that you’ve ‘trapped’ yourself within your own style?
A few years ago, yes, I did feel like I’d pigeon holed myself as the artist that painted girls with big round eyes with animals on their heads. I don’t think it occurred to me at the time that I was forcing the concept in my work. I was full of ideas about these animals and the symbolism they represented but after some time I felt like my heart wasn’t it in it anymore. I didn’t really know what to do then, should I keep doing what people knew me for or start doing paintings of the surreal and random imagery that was popping into my head. It got to the point where I was tired of painting all together. I took a year hiatus to really think about what I wanted to say with my art. It was the best decision I’ve made. When I began painting again my artwork was fresh and exciting and I couldn’t wait to create the next wild image that came to me. I’ve very grateful for my fans who’ve supported me along my journey because they made it ok for me to reinvent myself as an artist.
You’re at a gallery, and you see a great painting that catches your eye. Then you see the price and title of the piece, does that affect your overall impression of the piece?
That’s a very good question. I tend to fall in love with a piece regardless of the price, but the name is another thing entirely. A strong title really brings the whole thing together. I don’t like it when aritsts put “untitled” it’s lazy in my opinion. If you spend hours and hours on a piece you can spend some time naming it. I use the titles of my work to add to the painting, sometimes it might be an inside joke between me and my friends or its part of the puzzle that I want the audience to figure out. As for pricing, I’m by no means able to drop 10k on a painting, not even close, so I’m limited by money when it comes to what I can afford. When I have purchased original art it’s been my experience that handing over the money is like tearing off a bandage, it hurts at first but then I get to live with this beautiful piece of art forever. I look at my collection and appreciate it every single day knowing that I own the original and I can enjoy it forever. So the temporary pain of parting ways with my money is long forgotten.
Have you always been a total klutz? Or did you develop the skill over time?
Ha! Asked like someone who’s seen me fall up the stairs. I think it’s a talent at this point to be able to fall and spill things as often as I do. My whole life I’ve been knocking things over, sitting on sunglasses and generally causing as much mayhem as possible. I even came up with a theory that time travel is real and the future version of myself has been coming back in time invisible just so she can have fun by klutzing up my life. I have yet to catch her so my klutzy ways will continue.
As your fan base grows does it influence your creative choices? What’s expected of you versus what you want to create?
Getting more exposure means that the audience that sees my work is wider and more diversified so every now and then someone will make an unappreciated comment on my art or negatively review something I did. It always sucks when that happens but I learned a long time ago that you can’t please everyone. For the most part I create art for myself, paint and draw things that I love but I’d be dishonest if I didn’t admit that I’ve toned down the nudity in my work because of a few people’s comments. To me nudity is just that, the human body, it is not erotic or porn to paint breasts. However I know that nipples might not appeal to everyone so unless there is a specific reason for it, I won’t have nudity in my work as often as I used to.
Whats your favorite colour to paint with and why? This is not one of my questions but my grandfathers.
I adore teal in all shades imaginable. I’d eat the color if it was edible but I just have to settle for painting with it. I always feel so at peace when I’m using it, but at the same time it invigorates me. It’s my favourite color hands down.
You’re a story teller. I’d say you write almost as much as you draw and paint which a lot of people might not know about you. Who and what are you writing about currently and what compels you to spend so much time developing your stories?
I just recently started writing about a year and a half ago maybe…maybe more I can’t remember. It started because I was very unsatisfied with the show I was watching at the time, The Vampire Diaries. Honestly I was blown away by how poor the writing was getting and thought of all the different directions the plot and characters could have gone to the point where I started making notes. Then I discovered fan fictions and my whole world changed. There is a sea of writing online for people like me, people who like a show but then become dissatisfied and begin to write the shows in a way that they would like. I started with Vampire Diaries and then expanded into The Walking Dead. I’ve really fallen in love with writing so I’m using these fan fictions of mine as a stepping stone for future novel work. I have several ideas that I’m fleshing out and I think in the near future I’m going to sit down and write a series of novels based on original content. I never thought that I could find so much satisfaction from writing as I do from creating art and I’m really looking forward to focusing on that in coming years.
What elements do you think make a good and timeless story?
For me it’s all about character development. I am really drawn to stories that focus on a person’s journey and it doesn’t matter what they are doing or what is surrounding them as long as you take that character and transform them by the end of the story. Love, magic, supernatural elements, all of those are just the icing on the cake. Timeless stories for me have strong elements of personal growth and sacrifice and they don’t always end happily either. I’m definitely drawn to stories that don’t give you what you expect but give you a sense of finality and even if it’s not a happy ending it’s a satisfying one.
What is a trend you have noticed lately about storytelling that bothers you and why?
I’m really tired of supernatural creatures falling in love with human virgins. There is also a very obvious trend of having the main female character be mundane and bitchy. More and more of these characters are prevalent in stories and it’s driving me crazy. I understand the concept, have a character that is ordinary and make extraordinary people fall in love with them thereby making them special. Too many stories either have insanely inhumanly beautiful girls and guys or female characters that have no personality falling into amazing worlds. I’d really like to read about characters that are goofy or very athletic or excellent cooks, I don’t know, give them something that makes them stand out other than their clear dislike for dancing, looking at you Bella Swan.
Most people don’t realise how hard you work at conventions. What compels you to be at the booth when many other well-known artists don’t?
The reason why I go to conventions is so that I can meet my fans and make new ones so I spend all my day sometimes at my booth just for those opportunities. Many artists or creators have signing times, but I sign all day. To me there is nothing more incredible than to meet someone who likes my art and wants to talk to me. I began my career as a fan and now I have fans of my own, that humbles me every day. So even though I have to stand on cement floors for 8 hours and spend hours setting up and tearing down I work my butt off so I don’t miss out on those one on one interactions.
How does it make you feel when you look at other incredible artists such as Audrey Kawasaki, James Jean or Greg Simkins?
I adore their work! I get all warm and fuzzy inside when I see their art and I’ll admit it, sometimes I salivate a little. James Jean blows me away with each piece he does because its like a Beetle’s song, each one is as unique from one to the other and yet still screams James Jean. He really pushes boundaries with his work. Audrey’s girls are so seductive and alive that I get lost in their gazes. I’m always astounded by how she uses the woodgrain and has mastered her medium. She doesn’t have to use very much paint or color at all to render her life like characters and that is simply mind blowing. Greg Simkins art makes my brain twist and melt all at once! Looking at his work is like staring into the looking glass, up is down, birds are fish, objects come to life. He’s technical skills are drool worthy. He’s also a super nice guy that is all together too great to be real! I think there is one thing all three of them share, their work has movement and grace. It flows and ebbs. My eyes dance around their artwork. They are my art gods.
If you are working on a painting and it’s not going well what do you do?
There is a lot of kicking and screaming I tell ya! I think I always feel like my paintings aren’t going the way I want them to at some point. I call it the “ugly duckling” phase. This is the hump that I have to get over, grit my teeth and believe that it will be okay. From past experiences I’ve learned not to give up but to power through it. I don’t force the artwork to go in a direction it clearly isn’t, so there is some giving up on my end sometimes, but once I get back on track it usually works itself out.
Lastly, I know your going to the San Diego Comic Con in the coming week because im going with you. So whats for sale? Give us the scoop.
San Diego Comic Con is fast approaching and I'm stoked! This will be my 17th year in a row that I'll be attending...oh my gosh...I'm getting too old for this ha ha! It's definitely my biggest event of the year and i go all out for it. I've got multiple exclusives that range from limited edition watches, hand embellished fine art prints and new clothing releases not to mention my 2nd annual petite painting series "Beauties & Beasties". Last year I created a series of smaller and more affordable original art for SDCC and it was a great success so I am excited to release this year's series. I've blending rainbows with animals, humans are magical and part mammal and I even have my very first painting of a boy in the series. My booth number is 4723, and yes, I will be signing pretty much all day!
THIS GIF IS INCREDIBLE - J.M.