11 May 2015

Perhaps best known for her work with Tanpopo and Helmetgirls, Camilla d’Errico is an urban contemporary painter, illustrator, character creator and comic artist with a unique talent of drawing incredible artwork blending “East meets West” drawing styles. Based in Vancouver BC, Camilla brings her talent to numerous clients and has in the past collaborated with Dark Horse Comics, Image Comics, Random House, Tokyopop, Hasbro, Disney, Sanrio and with Neil Gaiman. In 2012, she was one of the artists spotlighted during the Tomb Raider 15th Anniversary celebrations. For the event, Camilla created her own artwork inspired by Tomb Raider (2013) entitled The Depths.

I had the honor of talking to Camilla recently about her work. Check out our discussion below.


G&G: How familiar were you with the character of Lara Croft before taking on this project?


Camilla: I grew up with Tomb Raider so I’ve been around to play the very first game that starred Lara Croft. I’ve seen the movies and played some of the games so I felt like I had a pretty good sense of the character going into the project.


What tools did you use for "The Depths" and how long did it take you to complete the piece?


I created the original art with pen and ink then I scanned the drawing and colored it in Photoshop. This particular digital painting took me a long time to create, I’d say I spent a week coloring her. It was the first time I’d colored an underwater scene so there are a lot of little details and color elements that I had to be mindful of to give the sense that she was struggling in a tempestuous ocean.


Something which makes your work so captivating is the use of fantastical elements. Even for the Tomb Raider drawing, there’s the large emotive eyes and the way the current sweeps up Lara’s hair. For you as an artist, what makes this fantasy element so appealing?


The thing that makes art worth doing for me is the emotion, whether its my own personal feelings or the emotions that I want to convey. I loved the challenge of creating an illustration that captured Lara’s determination and strength in such a desperate situation. I had a lot of concepts that I created and there were many of them with Lara on the washed up on the beach or standing on the island looking determined but in the end we went with this concept because it was so unique. The perspective of Lara fighting for her life wasn’t something they’d come across and it resonated with them because we never see that, not even in the game do we see her swimming out of the wreckage. I love the character of Lara. I think she’s a strong female character that would do anything to survive and she’s clever and witty, but this time it was literally her vs nature and that wasn’t something we’d seen before. I didn’t want her to look scared or weak, I wanted her to be her beautiful determined self in a hopeless situation.




 

Do you ever get nervous when revealing a new piece?


For sure! I wish I had nerves of steal but it’s not always easy to put something out into the public sphere that I’ve created which I’ve put a lot of my own feelings or personality into. Every time I create art and reveal it there is a sense of foreboding, will people like it, will they hate it, how will their reactions make me feel? It really is like standing naked in front of an audience and hoping that you’ve worked out enough and hope they can’t see if you have cellulite. I do believe in being proud of your own artwork and not letting any negative comments put you down so I’m not shy about my art but I am nervous occasionally.


When you work on a piece, what’s your process like, how do you get from the first concept to the final piece?


For me it always starts with hours of thinking through the concept and sketching out my ideas. I want to get out the initial ideas that are obvious and not challenging so that I can discover a unique concept. I have to have an emotional reaction to the piece before I consider it viable. I want to relate to the painting or drawing and see something captivating in the character that I want to explore. From there I twist it and find a surreal element that bends the laws of physics and gives the character a new subconscious aspect that isn’t obvious to the viewer. I wish so much that I could say that the art flows naturally and exactly as I’ve drawn it in concept to final product…but that would be wishful thinking. So much of the time the art changes and develops into something beyond the sketch and I let it. I don’t hold onto the sketch and force the painting to be what I want it to be, I let it flow and ebb and eventually the end result is what it is. Sometimes I love it, sometimes I’ve surprised and sometimes I hate it, but that’s art, it’s not a science or mathematical equation, it has a life of its own. I do love all the art that I create though and I’m always proud of it.


Your schedule is packed full of conventions and travelling, how difficult is it to balance working on a project and travelling to shows?


It’s often very challenging. I love going to conventions and tradeshows and art events, I love meeting my fans and making new ones and if I could I’d travel to all the conventions! But I do need to balance it out or else I’ll spend more time in transit than I do creating art. I take my work with me on the road too, so I’ll bring paintings or comics with me to work on during my down time after the shows. When I’m at home I focus on my art and try to balance it with my social life and home life. I work hard and I try to keep myself active too but most of my time is spent working and creating art. I have a really hard time turning off the creativity and I’ll push myself to constantly create so that I don’t end up having to pull all nighters like I used to when I first started doing art.



 

What projects are you currently focusing on?


Well there are a few things on the go right now! I am working on a sequel to my Pop Manga booked called Pop Painting. I’m really excited about this book because it’s the first time that I talk about and show in depth how I paint my original artwork. I have spent over a year on its development and we’re just finalizing it now for a fall release. I can’t wait to release this book! It’ll be the first ever How To guide to painting pop surrealism.

My next project is Tanpopo #3 which I’ve been working on slowly because it’s one of those projects that requires my full attention and I only work on it when I’m inspired. I do all the writing, penciling, coloring and text for the graphic novel so it takes a while to produce the 160pg book. But I’m hopeful that I’ll have it ready for a spring release.

I also have my third art book release with Dark Horse that will collect and feature all of my paintings from 2012 to date. This book will be the first ever collection of my rainbow girls! I have so many people asking me about the paintings and when I’ll do an art book and now I can say that in the spring of 2016 they can buy the collection in hardcover!

I’m really excited to release my series of mini paintings called Beauties & Beasties that will debut in July during San Diego Comic Con. Last year I released my first series of mini paintings at the convention and this year I want to release the paintings prior to SDCC so that people online can have a chance to purchase the pieces and even pick them at in San Diego. It’d an ambitious little project because I have about 10 paintings on the go and I need to get them done by July but I think I can step up to the challenge.

Amidst the books I have upcoming merchandise releases with Modify Watches and Clearly Contacts a few other companies that I’m super excited to announce. So by the summer I’ll have a line of reading glasses and sunglasses, new watches and clothing! It’s going to be a crazy summer for me this year.



A huge thank you to Camilla for the interview and to Tasha for setting it up!
You can see more of Camilla's artwork and visit her store on her website: camilladerrico.com/


If you have a social media site, you can follow her adventures on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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